The Conservatives in the age of Disraeli

A2 HY4 WJEC revision notes for Disraeli and the conservative party. Checked by My Head of History lecturer and didn't need changing. Hope this helps!

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The Conservative in the age of Disraeli ­ PM 1868, 1874-80.
Tories in early 1830's
Stood for order, tradition & hierarchy
Support for those who feared change to constitution
Supported by landed interest
1840's: The party had internal tension. The more progressive direction taken by the Liberal Tories had softened the Party's
appeal yet there were still many traditional reactionaries who did like Peel's attempts to court more M/C interests.
Disraeli saw the Corn Laws debate as a chance to revenge himself upon Peel; he became a spokesman for traditional Tory
backbenchers. In the wake of the repeal the party was split. Peel was followed into opposition by the majority of the Cabinet,
the chief whip and the manager of the party's electoral affairs.
1846: What remained of the party had to elect new leaders and create their own organisation. In this `new' party, Disraeli
played a leading role.
Derby & Disraeli (D&D) were determined to continue Peel's work of broadening the base of appeal. They realised that a party
based solely on the landed interest would not go far. Conservatism needed to break away from Anglican exclusiveness,
protectionism and land. After the split with Peel, the remaining Conservative Party members had to be dedicated to
protectionism, although Disraeli realised that in the long run this was unrealistic.
1852: Protection had disappeared from the official programme of the Conservative party ­ the agricultural interest was
persuaded that it was unnecessary. There was an urgent need to unify & strengthen the party. D&D were at something of a
loss to gain a unifying policy. Wouldn't have minded the Peelites return but this may have ended Disraeli's leadership. There
was little hope for Conservative government, they held office briefly as a minority administration in 1852 & 1858-9 where
Disraeli = Chancellor of the Exchequer under Derby. Unable to win elections as most of their support came from rural shires
of England, & had little support in Scotland, Ireland & Wales.
Parliamentary Reform:
1832 Reform Act = designed to be the last but it wasn't! Gladstone & Russell took up the issue of PR again and from that point
both parties began to introduce Reform Bills ­ the Conservatives 1859 & 1867 and the Liberals (Russell) 1866.
The Conservative 1867 Bill = SUCESSFUL.
Liberals 1866 bill = extended borough franchise to more w/c men that ever before.
Conservatives allied themselves with right wing Liberals to wreck the bill, the Liberal collapse ushered in a conservative
government led by Derby (HOL) and Disraeli (HOC).
Although leading a minority government, Disraeli was determined to use the opportunity to do something positive and useful.
Disraeli realised that he could not prevent reform but that he could try to control it = conservative had much to gain!
Derby = Overall leader & Disraeli relied on his patronage.
1867: Disraeli produces some of his best speeches and was marked out as the next party leader.
1868: Derby retired. Disraeli = PM! (An achievement for his background) he had `climbed to the top of the greasy pole'.
D's main tactic = Keep the Whigs/Liberals split; essential as he lacked an overall majority. 1st bill = moderate & Liberals
Next bill = too radical and Liberals split again. With a few Liberal amendments it was passed.
1867 Act ­ Main Terms
Derby; "Leap in the dark".
It extended the borough franchise to all householders & £10 lodgers. The county franchise was extended to £12 ratepayers
and those who held land worth £5 a year.
Practical effects:
1. Electorate massively increased ­ almost X2 ­ 1 in 3 MEN had the vote;
2. Skilled manual workers enfranchised for the 1st time;
3. A major change in the balance of power in British politics.

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Limitations: Act was carefully designed to minimise the situation of an enlarged electorate;
1. Number of voters in the counties increased by 45% compared to 135% in the boroughs ­ D was prepared to let the
radicals have their way in the boroughs, so long as he has his way in the counties;
2. Only 53 seats were redistributed in 1867 ­ 25 went to counties where the Conservatives usually did best;
3. London, the Midlands and North = under-represented
4.…read more

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Improvements to Public Health & Living conditions Limitations of the Act
The Public Health Act 1875: This remained unchanged until 1929 so there were no
The compulsory duties of the local authorities had to ensure updated information of public health and hygiene.
that there was adequate sewage, drainage and water supply;
nuisances were to be removed, offensive trade regulated Permissive reform ­ more of guidance.
and contaminated food sought out and destroyed; cased of
infections notified to the medical officer. By R.A.…read more

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Liberal Party's obsession with attacking national institutions like the church and the
Disraeli's Foreign Policy
D = flamboyant and relatively unprincipled political operator but his foreign policy = an enigma.
1852: `These wretched colonies will be independent in a few years and will be millstone round our necks'.
1866: Said colonies were dead weights.
1866: D was involved in the Abyssinian Adventure (Ethiopia) 1867-8 to rescue British hostages.…read more

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The Russian declaration of war in 1877 sharpened the mind of the dissenters, and enabled Disraeli to
prosecute his policy with a renewed energy and the war helped him articulate its value.
1878 Treat of San Stefano ­ big Bulgaria was created giving Russia access to the Aegean Sea hence the Meditation Sea, D
seized his moment and set off for the Congress of Berlin to nullify Russia and promote the breakup of Big Bulgaria.…read more


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