Gladstone's Plan for a United Kingdom

Gladstone and his Victorian Liberals still offer a great insight into the UK's divisions.

Almost half the Scottish electorate voted to leave the Union on September 18th. As Britons debate their constitution in the wake of that referendum, the visions and failures of the late Victorian era offer clues to what the UK might become in the 21st century. 

The muscular tartanry of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was an ironic prelude to the referendum: Glasgow was one of two Scottish cities that voted ‘Yes’ to independence. Yet this British take on the Olympics was founded as the Empire Games in 1924, when imperialism gave the Scots and English a common purpose. The end of Empire, together with the decline of Protestantism and, to a lesser extent, monarchism, weakened the economic and cultural bonds forged since the 18th century to hold together a Union based more on self-interest than mutual affection.  

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