Letter: MPs don't merit our sympathy

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The Independent Online
Sir: This is what W. E. Gladstone drafted to write to Queen Victoria on taking office as Prime Minister in 1880, referring to Sir Robert Peel, in whose governments of 1834-5 and 1841-6 Gladstone had been a minister:

In many of the most important rules of public policy, Sir R. Peel's government surpassed generally the governments which have succeeded it, whether liberal or conservative. Among them I would mention purity in patronage, financial strictness, loyal adherence to the principle of public economy, jealous regard to the rights of parliament, a single eye to the public interest, strong aversion to the extension of territorial responsibilities and a frank admission of the rights of foreign countries as equal to those of their own.

What a pity that Victorian values have become so unfashionable.

Yours sincerely,


Official Fellow in Politics

Nuffield College


11 February