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‘Hawarden Kite’

‘Hawarden Kite’. After the general election of 1885 Gladstone's Liberals with 333 seats were balanced by 251 Tories who had an understanding with Parnell's 86 Irish MPs. Gladstone suggested that the Conservative government should sponsor a Home Rule measure, which it was not keen to do. In December 1885 Gladstone's son Herbert leaked to the press that his father had a scheme for Home Rule. The Conservative government was defeated and resigned, and Gladstone formed his third administration, splitting his party on the Irish question. The satirical name given to Herbert Gladstone's initiative was taken from Hawarden in Flintshire, where Gladstone had made his home. There is no evidence that Gladstone knew of his son's intention, though few of his political opponents gave him the benefit of that doubt.

J. A. Cannon

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