By Malcolm Smith (auth.)
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Extra resources for British Politics, Society and the State since the Late Nineteenth Century
It has been pointed out, too, that Joseph Chamberlain tended to see Africa as one great big Birmingham whose slums needed to be cleared. 29 But the distinction between the idea of Empire- 44 BRITISH POLITICS, SOCIETY AND THE STATE as-mission which so appealed to Liberal radicals, and the seamier appeal of jingoism, could often be a nice one. A. A. Crambe's The Origins and Destiny of Imperial Britain - were full of the concept of 'England's Mission'. The public schools, developing rapidly through the 1870s to cater for the increased demand for military and administrative recruits that stemmed from Imperial development, imbued the sons of the middle class with diluted aristocratic ideals of service to the state.
Trade unions campaigned for legislation on those causes of poverty more deeply structured into the economy, arguing that the regulation of working hours and the introduction of minimum wages would not only end the exploitation involved in making working people work overlong hours to compensate for low wages, but would also spread employment more evenly around the available pool of labour. These measures, however, would involve a more radical rethink of the role of the state than anything yet proposed within the major parties, because they would take the government into the core of the relationship between labour supply and demand.
Gladstone had to resort to the questionable expedient of selling peerages in order to try to offset both these problems. The House of Lords proved to be a particularly acute problem, nevertheless, blocking Home Rule Bills which the Liberals could only just get through the House of Commons with Irish Nationalist support. Inevitably, therefore, Home Rule became inextricably tied to the question of reform of the House of Lords. 'Respectable' political opinion found it difficult to stomach a party that carried dissolution of the United Kingdom as its apparently major commitment, and was prepared to overthrow the constitution in order to secure it.