Liberalism, local government reform, and political education in Great Britain and British India, 1880-1886

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This article attempts to shed new light on the character of late Victorian Liberalism by investigating its political priorities in British India. It takes as its particular focus the debates which raged between 1881 and 1883 over the Government of India Resolution on Local Self-Government. Along with the Ilbert Bill, the Resolution comprised the centrepiece of the marquis of Ripon's self-consciously Liberal programme for dismantling Lytton's Raj. When analysed in conjunction with contemporaneous Liberal discourse on English local government reform, the debates surrounding the Resolution help to clarify many of the central principles of late Victorian Liberalism. In particular, these debates emphasize the profound importance of local government reform to what one might call the Liberal project. Beyond its utility in effecting retrenchment, efficiency, and ‘sound finance’, local government reform was valued by Liberals as the best and safest means of effecting ‘political education’ among populations, in both Britain and India, with increasingly strong claims to inclusion within the body politic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-203
JournalHistorical Journal
Volume61
Issue number1
Early online date9 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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