Liberty does not consist in making others do what you think right.Gladstone could only have approved. He decried the concept of 'positive freedom' as 'construction,—that is to say, taking into the hands of the state the business of the individual man', and held firmly to the principle that we are to take charge of our own lives and not to rely on the State.As Daniel put it at Charlotte Gore's blog earlier in the year, the man 'was a friggin' hero.'You can read two very good articles about Gladstone in newspapers of very different political stables: Simon Heffer in the Telegraph a few days ago (link) and Geoffrey Wheatcroft in today's Guardian (link).
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Happy Birthday, Gladstone!
It has been a year for birthdays. Calvin and Darwin, famously; but also a Prime Ministerial anniversary. Arguably the last properly liberal Prime Minister we had, William Gladstone was born on the 29th of December 1809. He was of the Liberal party, and held firmly to the classical liberalism of his contemporaries. He argued vociferously against the income tax, and succeeded in halving it over his period as Chancellor. He was in favour of enfranchising the working classes and a clear believer in limited government and individual responsibility. It was his Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Harcourt, who said of freedom: