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What Gladstone did

G.R. Searle, 24 February 1994

The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain 
by Jonathan Parry.
Yale, 383 pp., £30, January 1994, 0 300 05779 2
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... This impressive study of Victorian politics is built around a challenging thesis: that Gladstone, far from being the creator of the Liberal Party, was in fact a maverick who stumbled into the leadership of an already flourishing Liberal Party and, through his zealotry, restless ambition and ignorance, single-handedly proceeded to destroy it. Jonathan Parry also provides a forceful celebration of a particular kind of political system, which he sees as achieving perfection under the ‘propertied but unsnobbish’ Whig Ministers who ruled the country in early and mid-Victorian Britain ...

Honest Graft

Michael Brock, 23 June 1988

Corruption in British Politics, 1895-1930 
by G.R. Searle.
Oxford, 448 pp., £19.50, November 1987, 0 19 822915 1
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... Dr Searle began by investigating the radical right in Edwardian Britain. He soon decided that the accusations of corruption constantly made by its members deserved serious historical attention: they could not all be attributed to anti-semitism and ‘political paranoia’. This led him to widen the scope of his work until it comprehended the whole ‘plutocratic era’ from the 1890s ‘to about 1930 ...

A Win for the Gentlemen

Paul Smith, 9 September 1993

Entrepreneurial Politics in Mid-Victorian Britain 
by G.R. Searle.
Oxford, 346 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 19 820357 8
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... the middle class to perform the historic role for which they had cast it. It is the merit of G.R. Searle’s study to show that matters were more complicated than that. Deference apart, there is a well-rehearsed string of reasons for the failure of the middle classes to seize political power after the repeal of the Corn Laws, none of which ...

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