Monday, 14 December 2009

Gladstone's legacy

I posted about the developments at St Deiniol's Library earlier this year and speculated how the GOM might have viewed them. The custodian of the library, Peter Francis, interviewed on BBC Radio recently, opined that Gladstone would have welcomed the inclusion of the study of Islam. The reverend gentleman quoted from a speech from the Midlothian campaign: "Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own." There is much more on the Liberal History Group web-site; this page contains much that still rings true today.

Following his bicentenary, the group is to hold a meeting in the National Liberal Club in London at the end of January
"to find out what Gladstonian Liberalism was and how it came to dominate late Victorian politics, and to discover just how much of the classical liberal inheritance the Grand Old Man has actually passed down to the current-day Liberal Democrats". People draw a distinction between Gladstone's "non-interventionism in economic and social affairs, self-help and an emphasis on personal and political, as opposed to social, liberalism" and David Lloyd George's (and, for a time, Winston Churchill's) approach.

Gladstone's birthday was on 29th December. Coming so late in a year which has been full of anniversaries, and during the twelve days of Christmas, it may not be celebrated with the fervour associated with his contemporary, Charles Darwin, but Gladstone's contribution to British politics was as crucial as Darwin's was to the world of science.

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