A History of Britain, 1885–1939 by John Davis (auth.)

By John Davis (auth.)

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Extra info for A History of Britain, 1885–1939

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Much of the Whig aristocracy served as colonial governors, and a far wider section of propertied Liberalism held colonial investments. The rhetorical endorsement of empire voiced by the Oxford Moderate Liberal G. C. Brodrick in 1885 placed him a long way from the views of Spurgeon: I like to know and to realise that, travel where I may- in Mrica, in America or in the isles of the Pacific Ocean - I cannot travel far without seeing the Union Jack floating over some peaceful and prosperous settlement of my countrymen, with English faces, English manners, English ideas, English religion and English laws, talking of England as their home, cherishing equally the English sentiments of loyalty and of liberty, and speaking that familiar but noble language, which is the glorious inheritance of the English race.

31 It was a prescient comment. In so far as there was a conflict between property and democracy, Ireland was the most obvious arena for it, since property rights - meaning, as usual in this period, the rights accruing to land-ownership- were less widely accepted in Ireland than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. But the conflict of 1886 was more than a battle between property and democracy. The conjunction of two processes - one the widening of access to the British political system through franchise extension and the growth of party democracy, the other the economic repercussions of the agricultural depression- had encouraged 'democracy' at a time when property felt vulnerable.

Pouring public money into landlords' pockets did not worry him. Policy in Ireland was shaped by the emergency which Salisbury inherited. It was never as clear what Salisbury actually wished to do with power in mainland Britain. The legislation aimed at purifying and strengthening the Church of England was probably closest to his heart and, indeed, closer to his heart than to the hearts of many in his party. He considered the Established Church the strongest barrier against 'the spirit of rash and theoretical change'.

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