By John Davis (auth.)
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He also understood that executive government rested ultimately on force, and did not hesitate to emphasise the fact in his pronouncements on Ireland. His Irish policy underwent complex changes down to 1902, but underpinning everything was the belief, first voiced in May 1886, that Ireland needed twenty years of firm government before reforms could be contemplated. Like an earlier generation of Tories, he was haunted by the image of the French Revolution - on which he amassed a large library - exemplifying the potential for anarchy within any society where authority collapsed.
This owed much to the ambiguous result of the 1885 general election. The election had been widely expected to produce a Liberal landslide, on the strength of untested assumptions about the new electors. Chamberlain believed that franchise reform Liberal Disintegration 31 would mark 'the true commencement of the Democratic gospel'; 21 his assertive behaviour during 1884-5 and his willingness to risk breaking up the second Gladstone ministry both reflect that view. In the event the Liberals gained 334 seats against the Tories' 250, with the 86 Irish Nationalists holding the balance.
Chamberlain believed that franchise reform Liberal Disintegration 31 would mark 'the true commencement of the Democratic gospel'; 21 his assertive behaviour during 1884-5 and his willingness to risk breaking up the second Gladstone ministry both reflect that view. In the event the Liberals gained 334 seats against the Tories' 250, with the 86 Irish Nationalists holding the balance. In the light of the claims made by Radicalism since the enlargement of the electorate, this outcome represented a setback.
A History of Britain, 1885–1939 by John Davis (auth.)