To what extent does Gladstone’s ministry of 1868-74 deserve its reputation as a great reforming one? Gladstone’s ministry may deserve the reputation of a reforming one as he extended people’s rights to a certain extent. Gladstone improved the rights of the working classes through the Trade Union Act of 1871. The Act was significant as it meant that Trade Unions could now essentially function as an entity and it settled their future power within British Society.
The fact that Gladstone had made improvements specifically for the Trade Unions shows that he was thinking of the lives of the working classes and it could be argued that he did his best to improve them. However peaceful picketing was outlawed by a reinstatement of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1825. This was a less liberal move on Gladstone’s part and limited the effect of the workers strikes. Henceforth limiting the power they possessed to make change therefore the reputation of the ministry could be questioned.
Though reform is being made, it is not exactly benefitting the masses hugely. Moreover this Act was more beneficial to the working classes than the Friendly Society Acts, so in this sense Gladstone was trying to improve the statuses of the working classes hence forth making the reputation of the ministry justifiable. Additionally Gladstone passed the 1869 Municipal Franchise Act this gave female householders the vote in Municipal elections. This was the first time they were allowed to vote in any kind of election so the passing of this Act was highly significant.
Though the Act wasn’t hugely significant at the time as there weren’t many female householders, the long term impact of it was to be highly significant. As this Act brought women into politics and it was going to lead to campaigns for women being able to vote at a Parliamentary level so the Act had a huge significance and shows that Gladstone was trying to reform the political system. Therefore Gladstone’s ministry did deserve the reputation as they were making reforms which had a relatively huge significance of the working classes and women.