Disraeli's Second Ministry

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  • Created on: 16-01-14 13:02

Liberal Weaknesses - 1874 Election

Why did the conservatives win the 1874 election? Liberal Weaknesses:

 -Liberal Party Split

-Liberals focused more on political reform than social reformhttp://getrevising.co.uk/revision-cards/disraelis_second_ministry/edit?card=1

-Gladstone alienated key groups of previous support for Liberals:

  • Whigs - meritocracy limited their influence, Irish land act attacked their property rights
  • Nonconformists - education gave protection to anglican schools. Education denominational
  • Brewers - Licensing act gave JP's more power, attack on their industry
  • Merchants and Industrialists - Gladstone attempted reform for working class, felt left out
  • Trade Unions (Working class/Artisans) - Criminal Law Amendment Act - 
  • Patriotic British Public - Gladstones foreign policy was aimed at peace keeping and he often acted against the interests of Britain

Alienation of these key supporters pushed them to support the Conservatives. 

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Conservative Strengths - 1874 Election

Why did the conservatives win the 1874 election? Conservative Strengths:

Disraelis New Conservatism:

-Disraeli emphasised Social Reform - gained w/c support (motive for social reform can be questioned)

-Disraeli was interested in new trends towards democracy to attract working class using social and political reform  as he saw the importance of artisan votes.

-Disraeli wanted to maintain tradition and privelage he didnt want to abandon aristocratic hierarchy. This had cost Gladstone's Liberals many supporters - elite class

-Disraeli aimed to reorganize the conservative party in order to reach the new expanding electorate

-Disraeli wanted to uphold the Empire, he provided opposition to Gladstones foreign policy failings.

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Why did Disraeli introduce social reform?

There was a question of Disraeli's motives: a ploy to pull in w/c support or a dig at Gladstone for introducing social reform? Did disraeli have a consistent commitment to social reform or was he an oppurtunist with no plan for social reform?

Why were Reforms introduced?

  • People expected social reform after what Disraeli had said about them -Disraelis crystal palace speech, Disraeli's book sybil (two nations divided)
  • Government could make practical changes (that were often an extension of existing reforms passed) that were non controversial
  • Social reforms should that the government cared about ordinary workers and families 
  • Disraeli was simply responding to pressure groups

Why were Reforms limited?

  • Government shouldn't interfere too much in peoples lives -Laissez faire, local councils should carry out reform. 
  • Reduction of taxes more important that social reform and appealed to middle class supporters 
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Social Reform

1875 Artisan Dwelling Act:
+ Act gave local government power to purchase and redevelop insanitary and overcrowded slums. 
+Long term importance - established state intervention of private dwellings
-Absence of compulsary purchase in the legislation - reduced effectiveness
-Many city councils chose to ignore the non compulsary permissive legislation

1875 Public Health Act:
+Laid down minum standards of drainage, sewage disposal and refuse. Long term improvement.
-Opposition came from laissez faire supporters who believed the act was too much state intervention and interference.

1875 Sale of Food and Drug Act
+Attempt to regulate food industry, what was added to food
-A reluctance to make compulsary the appointment of food analysts by local authorities reduced its impact

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Social Reform

1875 Employers and Workmen Act
+Introduced a contract of service, increased fairness, major step in labour law reform

1875 Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act
+Replaced the unpopular Criminal Amendment Act passed by Gladstone. Act altered conspiracy law, legalized peaceful picketing and gave unions right to strike. Act strengthened Trade Unions.
-Trade Unions didnt traditionally support Conservatives, giving them power didnt win Tories support

1874/ 1878 Factory Acts
+Was a consolidation of previous factory acts, set the regulations for factory conditions and reduced working hours of women and children (which inturn reduced mens) per week.
+Important as it established the principple of the state offering protection to industrial workingers. 
+Pleased tory MP's and Trade Unions. 
-Too much state interference argued supporters of laissez faire

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Social Reform

1876 Merchant Shipping Act
+Act introduced regular inspection of ships to ensure safety and better conditions for sailors.
+Important, state intervention in ensuring safety
-Reform was not of Disraeli but Samuel Plimsoll
-Reform was not compulsary and not fully implemented until 1890

1876 Education Act
+Attempted to improve school attendence by setting up attendence comitees, children wouldnt get a job without an attendence certificate
+Parents realised their responsibility to ensure their childs school attedence
-Act didnt introduce compulsary attendence.
-Act could be seen as supporting Anglican Schools - Would anger NonConformists

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Social Reform Disraeli V Gladstone

Disraeli - Improved lives directly 

+Directly affected and improved the lives of the working class (Factory Acts, Public Health Act)

-Social reform passed was merely an extension on many of Gladstones social reform introduced (Public Health Act, Education Act, Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act)

-Much of the legislation was non compulsary - ineffective (Artisan Dwelling Act, Merchant Shipping Act, Sale of Food and Drugs Act)

-Limited reforms due to Laissez Faire

Gladstone - Widened oppurtunities for people in the long term

+Gladstone in the long term improved the position of the working class, introduction of democracy and meritocracy gave the ordinary man a chance. (Army, Civil Service, Secret Ballot)

-Reform didnt do much to improve social or living conditions.

-Introduction of Meritocracy and Democracy didnt directly affect working class in the short term

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Domestic Policy Similarities

Similarities - Both Disraeli and Gladstone believed in free trade and low taxes
Differences - Gladstone more concerned about cutting government spending. Disraeli more concerned to reduce local taxes, Gladstone wanted to abolish income tax
Social Reform:
Similarities - Conservatives Public Health Act built upon the Liberal Act which had set up sanitary authorities. Liberals would have ammeded the Criminal Law Amedment Act if they stayed in power. Conservatives Education Act built upon the Liberal Act. Many Conservative social feforms were merely an extension of Liberal Reforms, Conservatives benefited from hindsight.
Differences - Liberals social reform was based on achieving a meritocracy to increase oppurtunity, Conservative social reform aimed to elevate the condition of the people. 
Differences - Disraeli condemed the idea of Irish Home Rule. Conservatives strongly opposed the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland
Political Beliefs:
Similarities - Both parties defended the established Church of England
Differences - Disraeli remained elitist and old fashioned in attitude to established privelage, Gladstone saw need to establish a meritocracy, moral motives.


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Disraeli and the Eastern Question

Decline of Ottoman Empire caused the Eastern Question. Slavs in Balkans were keen to get independence from Turk Empire. 

Threat to peace of Europe due to interests of Russia and Austria-Hungary.

Austro-Hungarian Empire - included many slavs, concerned of a slav rebellion as this may lead slavs in Austria-Hungary to revolt and break up the Empire. 

Russia - Pan-Slav movement, believed that they should protect Slavs in Turkish rule. 

It suited Disraeli to commit himself to a policy of containing Russia's ambitions and to lend support to Turkey to achieve this.

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Eastern Crisis 1875-7

  • Balkan Christians suffered persecution in the Ottoman Empire (Broke agreement made at Treaty of Paris) 
  • Result was a revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Turks in 1875. This was a Balkan nationalist rising that spread to Buglaria.
  • Great Powers tried to deal with unrest by diplomatic means. 
  • Disraeli publicly expressed concern, worried the Dreikaiserbund would exploit the situation. 
  • Driekaiserbund issued the Berlin Memorandum, Disraeli refused to be a signatory on the grounds that he handlt been consulted on the terms. His true reason was he didnt want to weaken Turkey, a weakened Turkey wouldnt be able to stop Russian expansion into the Mediterranean - Damage British interests (access to India)
  • Disraeli now sent British navy into the Dardanelle straits, this showed Britain couldnt be included in European decision making.
  • Turkey saw Disraelis moves as support and stopped the Bulgarian revolt by carrying out hideous atrocities against Christians. - Strong reaction in Britain.
  • Gladstone made a violent verbal attack against Disraelis actions. 

Disraelis foreign policy actions had sabotaged a settlement of the eastern crisis, encouraged the Turks to carry out atrocities against Bulgarians and formed bad opinions of him, British public. 

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Conference at Constantinople - 1876

  • Disraeli called a conference to try and solve the worsening situation 
  • Demands for Turkish reform were rejected by Sultan
  • Disraeli refused to pressurise Turks
  • Conference broke up, Russia declared war on Turkey 1877, acting on behalf of persecuted Christians.
  • Disraeli said Britain would only remain neutral if Russia didnt threaten Britains position in Egypt and the Suez Canal
  • Public Opinion at home turned to Disraeli, patriotism
  • War ended the following year, treaty of San Stefano, Bulgaria > Big Buglaria due to Russias demands
  • Britain and Austria called for a European congress
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Treaty of Berlin - 1878

  • Disraelis main objective was to keep Russia out of the Mediterranean and reduce Russias influence in the Balkans. 
  • The "Big Bulgaria" proposed in the treaty of San Stefano was broken up, smaller state created and returned to Turkey
  • Agreement between Britain and Turkey, Britain receieved Cyprus, Turkey promised toleration of Balkan Christians in return for Britain guaranteeing Turkish Dominions. Britain could keep a watch on Russian ship movements to Suez Canal
  • Austria Hungary occupation of Bosnia
  • Independance of Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia enlarged.


  • Congress of Berlin - Personal triumph for Disraeli "peace with honour"
  • Strengthened Turkey in the Balkans
  • Averted full scale war but placed many christians under Turkish rule
  • AH occupation of Bosnia weaked Dreikaiserbund
  • Independace of Serbia - serbian nationalists, 
  • Laid foundations of future problems, 30 years later - outbreak of WW1
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Disraeli Imperial Policy

South Africa - Zulu War - 
1877, Colonial Secretary (Earl of Carnarvon) put pressure on the Dutch Settlers, the Transvaal Boers to accept the annexation of the Transvaal by Britain to deal with the threat of a Zulu attack Carnarvon appointed a Brtish high commisioner who disobeyed orders from London and got involved in a war against the Zulus. Disraeli was furious at the news of the war, his own reputation suffered due to the freedom he had given Carnarvon. 

Egypt and the Suez Canal
1875, Disraeli acted decisiviley over the purchase of shares in the Suez Canal, huge advantages :

  • Britain negotiated a low rate for British shipping to pass through the canal- stimulated trade
  • Deal helped establish a solid British interest in Egypt
  • Reduced travelling time to India and the Far East

British India
Indian north-west frontier with Afghanistan. Russia v Britain, who could gain control. Lord Lytton sent troops into Afghanistan and chased the Russians out. Criticism of Disraeli's lack of control of Lytton. But soon after a stable relationship with Afghanistan emerged.

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