Politics in the age of gladstone and disraeli
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Politics in the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli. # unravellingbritain Week 6 Dr Robert Saunders. DisraeliGladstone. 1848-68: Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons 1852, 1858-59, 1866-68: Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons

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Politics in the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli

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Politics in the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli

#unravellingbritainWeek 6 Dr Robert Saunders


  • 1848-68: Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons

  • 1852, 1858-59, 1866-68: Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons

  • 1868, 1874-80: Prime Minister

  • 1852-55, 1859-66, 1873-74, 1880-82: Chancellor of the Exchequer

  • 1865-66: Leader of the House of Commons

  • 1868-74, 1880-85, 1886, 1892-94: Prime Minister

The Gladstone ‘pissing pot’

1. The Poet and the Priest

Benjamin Disraeli: ‘The Asian Mystery’

Disraeli on Chartism, 1848

‘Why are the people of England forced to find leaders among demagogues?

The proper leaders of the people are the gentlemen of England.

If they are not the leaders of the people, I do not see why we should have gentlemen’.

The Revolutionary Epic (1834)

‘Fling to the heady wind

The cold philosophy

That vaunts of human REASON; nobler far

The faculty divine

IMAGINATION on her airy throne

Thus in human life,

Upon the mass the man of genius breathes

His spell creative, thus their swelling hearts

Rise to his charm!’

Politics as Theatre

Gladstone: Politics as Priesthood

  • ‘I believe in the degeneracy of man – in sin – in the intensity and virulence of sin. . . . Sin is the great fact of the world to me’ (1888).

Gladstone at Blackheath, 1876

Gladstone the Orator

‘Without an effort … the great orator held his audience for nearly two hours. I stood so far off that the features were indistinct, but I was spellbound by the music and magnetism of the wonderful voice … I was only conscious of the presence of a great human personality, under whose spell I was and from whom I could in no way escape. … I felt lifted into a holy region of politics, where Tories cannot corrupt or Jingoes break through and yell’.

Gladstone at Blackheath, 1876

The Liberal Party

  • Whig aristocracy

  • Nonconformists and Liberal Anglicans

  • Provincial manufacturers and businessmen

  • Trade Unionists and the ‘respectable’ working class

  • Scotland, Wales and Ireland

Free Trade

  • Gladstone (1860):

  • in legislation of this kind, you are not forging mechanical supports and helps for men, nor endeavouring to do that for them which they ought to do for themselves; but you are enlarging their means without narrowing their freedom, …you are appealing to their sense of responsibility, you are not impairing their temper of honourable self-dependence’.

The Tory Party, mid-C19th

  • The Base

  • Agriculture

  • The Church of England

  • Key Issues

  • Key issue: Agricultural Protection

  • Disraeli:

  • ‘We must have our eyes opened to the futility of attempting to govern this country by the landed interest alone’

  • ‘[We] stuck to Protection till the country positively shat upon it’


Decline of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire

The Midlothian Campaign

  • ‘Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own.’

The Primrose League (est. 1883)

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