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The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain
ISBN 0300057792 / 9780300057799 / 0-300-05779-2
Publisher Yale University Press
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Liberalism was the dominant political force of Victorian Britain, yet it remains an area relatively undocumented. Between 1830 and 1886 a coalition of anti-Conservatives known at various times as Whigs, Reformers and Liberals were in office for over 40 years and lost only two out of fourteen general elections. The argument of the book attributes much greater coherence to Liberalism than most previous historians have recognised, and seeks to understand its stability and success by concentrating on parliamentary politics. The author stresses the importance of "parliamentary government" as the key method of securing the rule of a propertied but rational, diverse and civilised elite. He examines the strategies of Grey, Russell, Palmerston, Gladstone and others and concludes that Galdstone's idealist religious temper fatally diverged from the Liberal mainstream and led in 1886 to the destruction of the party. [via]