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Sir Robert Peel: The Man and the Times

Sir Vince Cable discusses Sir Robert Peel's political career and shares the story of how Peel made Britain into a champion of free trade.

Sir Robert Peel is famous today as a great reformer, economic revolutionary, and hero of the working people. However, there is little from his early career that would have foreshadowed this reputation.

In the film, Sir Vince Cable explores Sir Robert Peel’s life and career. He discusses how Peel served in the government in various positions including Home Secretary. Peel was also quite involved in party politics founding the Conservative Party and eventually becoming Prime Minister.

Today, Peel is most famous for abolishing the Corn Laws and making Britain a champion of free trade. While this is certainly true, Vince discusses how in many ways Peel’s hand was forced by the great Irish ‘potato famine.’ Throughout British economic and political history, the issue of ‘free trade’ versus ‘protectionism’ has reverberated but more often than not free trade’ has prevailed.

Please discuss in the comments which way you think this debate is leaning today. Should a country open itself up to free trade with other countries around the world or is it better to protect one’s own industries?

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The Politics of Economics and the Economics of Politicians

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