‘Gladstone’s conversion to Home Rule was a calculated political act’. Assess the validity of this claim

Start by posing the question as a puzzle to be solved. Why would Gladstone convert so suddenly to Home Rule – one of the great voltes-face of the 19th century? Stress the comment in his diary of September 1885, shown on slide 2, in which he expresses his vehement opposition to Home Rule.

Then display slide 3, a contemporary political cartoon. What message does this convey about Gladstone’s motivation?

Students are then told that they are going to work out alternative motivations for themselves. To do this they are given a set of 15 influence cards (provided as RS2) to work on in groups of 2 or 3, no more. Can they see if there are any patterns of causation? Can they come up with what seems to be the most likely explanation for Gladstone’s actions? How they do this is up to them. Some will want to group ideas, others to link, some to prioritise. When they are satisfied with their early attempt at an explanation of a complex issue, ask then to compare the way they have thought through this problem with neighbouring groups. Follow that with class discussion.

So if it is complex why are some historians

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