Section 4 - History


Gladstone and Disraeli at Home and Abroad

The Revival of Conservatism:

  • General election of 1874 brought a firm victory for the Conservatives
  • Liberal policies had alienated most support that had brought him to power in 1868
  • Broke Liberal dominance after almost 30 years
  • Had a secure majority in the Commons 
  • Tory vote came largely from the counties, but also some borough and industrial towns
  • 26/33 seats in Lancashire went to the Conservatives
  • Cabinet contained a new generation of Tory leaders 
  • Remained socially exclusive in respect to its landed dominance
  • only 1 out of 12 of its members = not a peer or landed gentleman
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Party Organisation

  • Loss of the 1868 election made Disraeli realised that political parties must improve their organisation in order to reach the new, expanding, education electorate
  • Appointed John Gorst to overhaul party organisation 
  • Set up a Conservative Central Office in London
  • Gorst had the poower to choose the candidate
  • In 1870 = the National Union of Conservative Associations moved its HQ to Central Office
  • Gorst was able to direct its work in the constituencies to imrprove organisation
  • National Union grew in importance and became the body to which the constituency groups became affiliated
  • Disraeli used it as his 'sounding board' in 1872 to outline his policies 
  • Gorst targeted middle as well as working class voters
  • Overall rise in the borough vote was a significant factor in the victory in 1874
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Disraeli's Brand of Tory Democracy

  • After his defeat in 1868, Disraeli kept a lot political profile
  • Period leading upp to the 1874 general election - took advantage of Gladstone's increasing discomfort and unpopularity 
  • Began to plant the seeds of 'Tory democracy'
  • New brand of Conservatism, in order to revive the fortunes of the Conservatives
  • Two important political speeches in 1872 
  • National Union of Conservative Associations at the Manchester Free Trade Hall
  • Crystal Palace in London
  • Appeared to appeal to the working class vote - used the notion of Empire as a unifying force 
  • Ideal of empire = paramount importance to Disraeli 
  • Saw it is a strong political and economic union, with the monarch as its head
  • Interested in the new trends towards democracy and working-class voters
  • Strongly believed in maintaining tradition and privilge and knew that the party was not ready to abandon the old artisocratic heirachy 
  • If the working class placed their trust in the Conservatives = they could share some of the beenfits enjoyed by the more prosperous groups in society 
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Disraeli's Brand of Tory Democracy

  • Disraeli = responsible for a number of important social reforms 
  • Question mark over his sincerity in calling for social reform
  • It may have been a dig at Gladstone?
  • Working-class votes helped to bring the Conservatives back into power 
  • Electorate was tired of Gladstone's endless legislation
  • Disraeli presented his party as having a 'broad-based appeal' 
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Assessment of Disraeli's Social/Political legislat

  • Much of the legislation was adoptive
  • Facilitated change and improvement, rather than insisted on it.
  • Local authorities shied away from taking action on the grounds of cost
  • Still a reluctance to accept a too rapid expansion of State responsibility 
  • Few constructive social reforms 
  • Income tax was reduced to 2d - no surplus funds avaliable
  • Education act appeared to only prp up the voluntary church schools 
  • Compulsory school attendance could have alienated the working classes
  • Disraeli did establish the idea of Tory democracy through social reforms 
  • Indicated an awareness of the needs of the emergent working class
  • Improved influence of trade unions gave working classes a voice
  • Public Health Act = practical and lasted for over 60 years
  • Gave credence to the idea of a Tory working-clas sman 
  • Principle of State invervention was slowly extended 
  • Greatest achievement = Trade unions and Labour Laws
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Disraeli's Foreign and Imperial Policy (1875-8)

Foreign Policy: 

  • Similar problems faced as Gladstone
  • Maintaining the balance of power in in Europe = paramount importance
  • Balance had changed with the emergence of a strong united Germany in 1871
  • German Chancellor = Bismarck 
  • Created an alliance system that centred on Germany, weakened France and isolated Britain
  • Disraeli's foreign policy was designed to restore Britain's position at the centre of world affairs 
  • Also to uphold the country's interests abroad, particularly those of its empire
  • Disraeli pursued an active and interventionist foreign policy
  • 1872 speech at Manchester = Disraeli criticised Gladstone's handling of foreign policy
  • Accused him of feebleness in upholding Britain's prestige abroad
  • Disraeli's approach is often compared to Lord Palmerson's vigorous approach 
  • Decision were based on expediency 
  • He did not consider the question of motality in any given situation
  • Apprarent in the outcry over the 'Bulgarian Atrocities' 
  • Bitter confrontation between Gladstone and Disraeli 
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The Eastern Question

  • Decline of the Turkish Empire during the 19th century
  • Once stretched from south-east Europe to North Africa 
  • Could potentially create opportunities for several other European powers
  • France, Russia, Britain, Austria-hungary and Germany became concerned with whether or not they could obtain advantage from supporting or turning their back on a troubled Turkey 
  • Suited Disraeli to commit himself to a policy of containing Russia's ambitions
  • Lend additional support to Turkey to achieve this
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The Eastern Crisis, 1875-7

  • Delicate balance of power between Russia, Turkey and Austria 
  • Treaty of Paris = Turkey would give better treatment towards the Christians within the Empire
  • Russia gave up any claim to protect them
  • Agreement was soon broken and the Christians suffered persecution at the hands of the Ottoman Turks
  • Result was a revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875 against the Turks 
  • Following year = spread to Bulgaria
  • Later affected Serbia and Montenegro 
  • Balkan nationalist rising and offered the chance for European interference
  • Greatest Powers tried to deal with the unrest by diplomatic means 
  • Disraeli publicy expressed concerns as he did not with the Dreikaiserbund to exploit the situation for its own ends
  • Reluctantly accepted proposals made to the Turkish government, by the Austro-Hungarian minimster 
  • These proposals were quickly unravelled when Turkey failed to cooperate
  • Dreikaiserbund continued diplomatic efforts by issuing the Berlin Memorandum in June 1876
  • Signed by Germany, Austria, Russia, France and Italy 
  • Demanded change and reform within the Turkish government
  • Disraeli refused to be a signatory on the grounds that he had not been consulted in initial dicussions
  • He was anxious that it would weaken Turkey to the extent that it would not be able to stop Russia expansion 
  • Damange British interests
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The Eastern Crisis, 1875-7

  • Disraeli sent British naval vessels to the Dardanelle Straits 
  • Britain could not be marginalised in European decision making 
  • Action was seen by Turkey as an indication of British support 
  • The new Turkish Leader, Abdul Hamid, stemmed the Bulgarian revolt by using a force of irregular troops 
  • Carried out artocities against the Christian population in Bulgaria
  • Strong reaction from Britain
  • Extent of artrocities was minimised by Disraeli
  • Scale of horror was revealed in the Daily News 
  • Gladstone made much political mileage in a violent verbal attack - "The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of East"
  • Proposed to expel the Turks from the Balkans 
  • Disraeli and Gladstone relationship was bitter as Disraeli felt he had destroyed British unity 
  • Offered unnecessary encouragment to the Russians 
  • Disraeli = indifferent to the sufferings of the Christians 
  • Moral outrage in Gladstone 
  • End of 1876 = Disraeli's foreign policy actions had sabotaged a settlement in the Eastern Crisis, encouraged the Turks to carry out atrocities against the Bulgarians, and caused expressions of deep outrage against him at home 
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The Conference at Constantinople, 1876

  • December 1876
  • Try and stem the worsening situation, but demands for Turkey to reform were rejected by the Sultan 
  • Disraeli refused to pressurise the Turks, going against the advice of Lord Derby
  • Conference broke up 
  • Russia declared war on Turkey in 1877 on the grounds that it was acting on behalf of the Christians
  • Britain would only agree to remain neutral on the condition that Russia did not threaten position in Egypt and the Suez Canal, or enter Constantinople
  • Public opinion had turned in Disraeli's favour
  • Outbreak of 'jingoism' and anti-Russian feeling
  • War ended quickly the following year with the Treaty of San Stefano 
  • Russia proposed doubling the size of Bulgaria, over which it had huge influence
  • Britain and Austria demanded a European Congress 
  • Disraeli knew that Russia was weak financially and ilitarily 
  • Postured by ordering the British fleet to Constantinople and moved Indian troops to Malta 
  • Derby resigned in frustration at Disraeli's brinkmanship 
  • Lord Salisbury became foreign secretary 
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Treaty of Berlin, 1878

  • The Treaty of Berlin was eventually agreed after a series of secret negotiations 
  • Disraeli's main objective = keep Russia out of the Mediterranean and reduce influence in the Balkan's
  • The 'Big Bulgaria' proposed in the Treaty of San Stefano was broken up 
  • Smaller state created and returned to Turkish suzerainty 
  • Agreement reached between Britain and Turkey
  • Britain = recieved Cyprus 
  • Turkey = promised toleration of Christian subjects in return for guaranteeing Turkish dominions 
  • Britain could keep watch on Russian ship movements to the North and South of the Suez Canal 
  • Agreement between Austria-Hungary an Britain secured Austro-Hungarian occupation in Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Indepdence of Serbia and Montenegro = guaranteed
  • Serbia = englarged 
  • Congress of Berlin = personal triumph for Disraeli 
  • Successful = Congress agreed to limit Russia's gains and the overall results strengthened Turkey in the Balkans and, therefore, the front of Russia
  • Averted full-scale war 
  • Placded many Christians under Turkish rule again
  • Austro-Hungarian occupation in the Balkans weakened the Dreikaiserbund 
  • All the agreement lay the seeds for the Great War, 30 years later 
  • Disraeli claimed 'Peace with Honour'
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Imperial Policy

  • Traditional view = Disraeli aimed to pursue the expansion of the Empire
  • Historians have cncluded = he wanted to preserve, not expand, the Empire
  • The Empire brought the power and prestige which gave Britain influence in Europe 
  • Little evidence to suggest he had any great designs for the empire
  • Advertised the importane of the empire to his increasing popularity
  • Took few initiatives 
  • Left much of the decision makig to his ministers or officials abroad 
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South Africa and the Zulu War, 1877-9

  • Colonial Secretary put pressure on the Dutch settlers to accept the annexation fo the Transvaal by Britain to deal with the threat of a Zulu attack 
  • Meant to be part of a bigger plan to form a South African Federation
  • Incorporating British and Dutch settlements but as part of the British Empire
  • Carnarvon appointed a British High Commissioner = Bartle Frere 
  • Disobeyed orders from London and got involved in a war against the Zulus 
  • British force of 1000 men died at Isandhlwana in 1879
  • Several months before the situation could be recovered 
  • Zulus declared defeat at Ulundi 
  • Disraeli = furious at the news of the war, but had given Carnavon too much of a free hand 
  • His own reputation suffered as a result 
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Egypt and the Suez Canal

  • 1875 = Disraeli acted decisively over the purchase of shares in the Suez Canal 
  • Government of the Khedive of Egypt was on the verge of bankruptcy 
  • Needed £4m to avoid insolvency 
  • Disraeli consulted Queen Victoria who gave the purchase her blessing
  • Money was raised through a loan with Jewish bankers (Rothschilds) 
  • Smart move by Disraeli
  • Britain was able to exert influence over the suez canal, there would be huge advantages:
      • Britain negotiated a low rate for British shipping to pass through the canal, and this helped to achieve cheaper inports and exports and so stimulated trade
      • The deal helped to establish a sold British interest in Egypt
      • Reduced the travelling time to India from the Far East 
      • Provided an easy and speedy means of increasing military and naval forces in the Far East and more especially in India, where security concerns were growing 
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Disraeli and British India

  • Trouble = Indian North-West frontier with Afghanistan 
  • Battle of wits between Russia and Britain as to who could gain control of Afghanistan first
  • Disraeli thought to encourage good relations with the Amir first, so he would be sympathetic with British conerns 
  • Colonial Secretary was in charge of British policy in India 
  • Lord Lytton = appointed Viceroy with the remit of setting up a British mission in the Afghan capital, Kabul
  • Lytton supported a forward or expansionist policy in India
  • Reservations from Salisbury and Derby about Lytton's suitability for the job
  • 1878 = Tsar sent a mission to Kabul 
  • Lytton was ordered to take no action until all diplomatic channels had been tried
  • Lytton sent troops in Afghanistan despite orders and chased the Russias out 
  • A British mission was established in Kabul
  • 1879 = resentment against the British spilled over into a massacre of the entire mission
  • A strong force of British troops = immediately dispatched 
  • Order wasn't restored until after 1880
  • Much criticism of Disraeli's lack of control over Lytton and aggressive policy
  • Soon after = stable and lasting relationship with Afghanistan emerged
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Achievements of Gladstone's Second Ministry, 1880-

  • General election of 1880 = victory for the Liberals
  • Gladstone was riding high on a successful election campaign 
  • Mounting anger against Disraeli's foreign policy decisions had drawn back Gladstone
  • Gladstones argued on the Bulgarian atrocities was the beginning of his success
  • Noticeable division within the Liberal party
  • Old Whigs = led by Hartington who feared Gladstone's radicalism
  • Radicals = led by Chamberlain who was at odds with Gladstone over the need for increased taxation to pay for an extensive programme of social reform
  • Irish Nationalist Party = led by Parnell and now strong enough to make its presence felt
  • Leadership of the Conservatives was taken over by Salisbury 
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Domestic Policy

  • Much of Gladstone's Second Ministry was taken up with the problems relating to Ireland
  • He was responsible for some other far reaching political reforms and actions
  • Moved Britain towards greater democracy 
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Electoral Reform

  • The Corrupt Practices Act, 1883
  • The Franchise Act, 1884
  • Redistribution of Seats Act, 1884
  • The Corrupt Practices Act = extension of the Secret Ballot Act of 1872
  • Closed the loopholes that allowed corruption to continue 
  • Ensured that candidate's election expenses wre set to a specified limit
  • Made clear what campaign money could be spent on 
  • Election agents had to produce accounts
  • Clearly defined illegal and corrupt practices
  • Introduced stiff fines and prison sentences for anyone breaking the law
  • Politicians now had to win support by promoting better policies 
  • Reinforced by a growing working-class electorate 
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Electoral Reform

  • Real impetus for electoral reform came from Joseph Chamberlain
  • Part of his strategy to take control of the Liberals and replace its leadership 
  • Believed that electoral reform could produce mor Liberal voters from the labouring populatio in th rural areas who still did not have the vote 
  • Mainly agricultural labourers and a large number of miners
  • No logical argument against extending the franchise
  • Gladstone's ministry was running into trouble over Ireland 
  • Agreed to electoral reform as a means of winning back popularity 
  • Gladstone took the credit for the reform 
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Electoral Reform

  • Real impetus for electoral reform came from Joseph Chamberlain
  • Part of his strategy to take control of the Liberals and replace its leadership 
  • Believed that electoral reform could produce mor Liberal voters from the labouring populatio in th rural areas who still did not have the vote 
  • Mainly agricultural labourers and a large number of miners
  • No logical argument against extending the franchise
  • Gladstone's ministry was running into trouble over Ireland 
  • Agreed to electoral reform as a means of winning back popularity 
  • Gladstone took the credit for the reform 
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The effects of electoral reform

  • Franchise reform removed discrimination over voting - no longer tied to property
  • Uniform franchise in both counties and boroughs now existed
  • Agricultural labourers and miners in rural areas brought into the voting system
  • Electorate doubled to 6 million voters 
  • Two out of three men now had the vote 
  • Enfranchised th working classes and reduced the influence of the landed classes
  • Great step towards democracy
  • Redistrubution of seats brought an end to the over-representation of the rural areas and under-representation of the industrial towns and cities
  • Most constituencies were now singl member and equally sized in terms of population
  • System of constituencies was tied in with the distribution of the population
  • Fair representation across Britain
  • Encouraged political organisations to improve their organisation 
  • Radicals brought into contact with new rural voters, while the Conservatives strengthened their support in the boroughs - introduced a modern system of electoral representation
  • New Irish voters consolidated the position of Parnell and the Irish Nationalist Party 
  • Strengthened the Home Rule fight
  • Liberals lost old Whig support by the abolition of so many seats
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The effects of electoral reform

  • Radicals took on a more influential position in the Liberal Party
  • Marked the beginning of the end of Gladstonian Liberalism
  • Gladstone's administration achieved little less in terms of reform
  • Distracted by the crises abroad and the problems over Ireland
  • Gladstone was increasingly difficult to work with and Chamberlain's ambitions harder to contain
  • Chamberlain's plans attracted th voters who gave them the majority in 1885 
  • Marked the beginning of Gladstone's short-lived third term in office
  • Liberals = severely weakened 
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Gladstone's Foreign/Imperial Policies to 1885

  • Gladstone had made clear his opposition to Disraeli's foreign and imperial policies
  • Critised Disraeli on the grounds of aggression, immorality and cost 
  • Difficult to work out where Gladstone stood on foreign/imperial affairs 
  • First Ministry = criticised for severe disinterest
  • Once in office for Second Ministry = he appeared to turn around into a pro-imperial stance 
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  • 1878 = Egypt on the verge of political and economic collapse
  • Britain had considerable investments in Egypt and the Suez Canal
  • Gross misuse of funds by the Khedive that had been earmarked to buld up the infrastructure 
  • Khedive was deposed in favour of his son 
  • Anglo-French Dual Control Commission was put in place to restore financial stability and look after investors
  • Gave itself the power to pass reforms and cut expenditure 
  • Stirred up nationalist feelings
  • 1881 = Egyptian Army Officer led a nationalist rebellion, seized power, formed a government and banned foreign intervention in Egypt 
  • Gladstone sanctioned the navy to join France and send warships to Alexandria 
  • Egyptians prepared a defence against the Anglo-French fleet
  • Last minute = French withdrew
  • Confused orders led to an attack on Alexandria by the British fleet and there was a breakdown of law and order
  • Little alternative but to invade Egypt alone
  • Established Britain as land power in the Middle East for the first time
  • Nationalist feeling = short lived 
  • He was defeated by British troops, captured and dported
  • Gladstone = intended to sort the problem and withdraw from Egypt as quickly as possible 
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  • Justified reason = He believed British interests and the strategic position of Egypt to be greater importance
  • Further justification = to bring order and stability to Egypt 
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The Sudan, 1883-5

  • Sudan was under the control of Egypt 
  • Authority had been undermined by actions of religious extremist, the Madhi 
  • 1883 = The Khedive sent force into the Sundan under British officer, Hicks
  • Aim was to supress the Madhi
  • Battle of Shkan = Hicks was killed and the army ambushed and trapped
  • Gladstone expressed some sympathy for the Mahdi's position and his right to fight for his people's freedom and right to self-government 
  • View that had little sympathy in the 'Empire England'
  • The army of Egypt was in a perilous position
  • Glastone made the decision to send General Gordon to carry out the evacuation
  • View that Gordon had his own agenda - to refuse to withdraw until he had taught the Mahdi a lesson
  • At first = Gordon held the Nile Valley against the Mahdi
  • He was pushed back into Khartoum
  • Gordon requested relief troops
  • Delay and the reinforcements arrived two days too late to save Gordon
  • Seen as a national hero - badly let down by British authorities
  • Continued policy of withdrawal from the Sudan - leaving the Mahdi in control
  • Gladstone = peak of unpopularity 
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Transvaal and the Boers

  • Zulus were defeated in 1879
  • Sir Garnet Wolseley made high commissioner of the Transvaal 
  • Making it a crown colony instead of giving it the self-governing status as promised 
  • Gladstone strongly criticised the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 by Disraeli
  • Expectation from the Boers that they would have independence
  • 1881 = Gladstone stalled on the issue
  • Fighting broke out between the British and the Boers 
  • Boers inflicted a humiliating defeat on the British at Majuba Hill in 1881
  • Gladstone chose to compromise and granted independence with the British crown maintaining sovereignty 
  • Soon dropped after the Boers' angry reaction
  • 1884 = British government finally recognised the South African Republic 
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  • Gladstone intention = withdraw from Afghanistan
  • Dissuaded by the Indian Viceroy, Lord Ripon, who was anxious not to create unrest on the border and allow the Russians to take advantage
  • Gladstone agreed to continue to ference of Afghanistan 
  • Felt the policy carried risks as the British did not have the necessary control in Afghanistan to ensure success
  • 1885 = Russians seized Afghan town, which lay close to the Russian border
  • Russians expected to get away with it 
  • Gladstone threatened force
  • Russians withdraw and agreed arbitration
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Summary of Gladstone's Foreign/Imperial Policies

  • Egypt = Gladstone had to consider British interests first
  • Occupation of Egypt surprised many and was greeted with approval by the public
  • Caused John Bright to resign from Cabinet 
  • Concerted European action over Egypt failed
  • Situation caused friction between Britain and France 
  • Turkey = annoyed by being side-side
  • France and Germany looked for colonial opportuniies for themselves
  • Gladstone = appeared to be on the back foot and pulled out of areas of informal British control to make way for other European interests
  • Gladstone was against interference with nationalist movements
  • He believed that they had a right to express themselves
  • Up against the pro-imperialist positions held by the majority of MPs
  • Transvaal = Gladstone hesistated which became a costly mistake 
  • Seen as giving way to force
  • Boers thereafter regarded the British as weak
  • Sudan = mistake in the choice of Gordon 
  • Gladstone handled the whole incident badly 
  • Britain was humiliated by withdrawal, leaving the Mahdi victorious 
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Summary of Gladstone's Foreign/Imperial Policies

  • Little sympathy/understanding of Gladstone's foreign policy actions
  • Often appeared contradictory
  • Successes met with criticism and created divisions within the party between the Radical anti-imperialists and the Whigs who often supported a pro-imperialist position 
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