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Learning from Gladstone

In the centenary year of Gladstone's death, what can today's party of progress learn from his extraordinary career?

Thirty years ago, Gladstone was merely a figure of the past. The Labour party-then the only effective agent of change on the left-stood for thoroughly non-Gladstonian objectives: high government spending; an elaborate unconditional welfare system; redistributive taxation; Keynesian economic management; and public ownership. It was also a party shaped by its large trade union base. Today, in the centenary year of Gladstone’s death, how the wheel has turned!

The Blair government’s chief legislative initiative is constitutional reform, particularly the government of Scotland and Wales and reform of the House of Lords, both Gladstonian concerns. The Scotland and Wales bills will…

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