Do you agree with the view that Gladstone’s conversion to the policy of Home Rule for Ireland was driven primarily by political ambition?
- Gladstone converted to the policy of Home Rule in 1885, shortly after the November 1885 election. He remained committed to this policy for the rest of his political life, despite the fact it had a divisive effect on his Liberal Party, and the fact that introducing Home Rule to Ireland would be very difficult. Historians and contemporaries, have cited many different reasons as to why Gladstone converted to Home Rule, the three main reasons being that by 1885 there was no real alternative; several ways of settling the Irish question had already bee tried but had not solved the problem, secondly, it was the morally right thing to do, and lastly for Gladstone’s political ambition. Sources 1, 2 and 3 contain material, which both agrees and disagrees with the historical claim in the question; that Gladstone converted mainly for political ambition. For example sources 1 and 3 both suggest that they agree that Gladstone joined the Home Rule purely for his political ambition, whereas Source 2 completely disagrees with this statement. This essay will first consider the case that Gladstone’s conversion was driven primarily by his political ambition, before considering the case that other motivations for Gladstone’s conversion were more important. The conclusion will reach the judgement that Gladstone’s conversion to the policy of Home Rule for Ireland was not driven primarily by political ambition.
In some ways, sources 1, 2 and 3 do agree with the claim that Gladstone’s conversion to Home Rule was driven mainly by political ambition. In source 1 Parnell has made it clear that he won’t budge from the Home Rule. ‘England will be wise in time, and concede to constitutional arguments and methods’ therefore implying that Gladstone needs to convert to Home Rule, if he wants the support of Parnell and the Irish Party. Source...
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