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Disraeli and Conservatism, 1874–80

  • Angus Hawkins
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Abstract

1874 brought Conservatives into the sun-lit uplands of real parliamentary power. For the first time since 1841 they took office with a Commons majority: 350 Conservatives looked across the chamber at 242 Liberals and 60 Home Rule MPs sitting on the opposition benches. Their triumph was, in part, a result of the collapse of Liberal unity after 1870. The desertion of moderate Liberal support, in particular, had exposed widening fissures in progressive opinion. The transformation of Irish Liberal MPs into Home Rulers created further opposition disarray. Disraeli’s avoidance of haste, in not seizing office in 1873, had accelerated the process of Liberal disintegration. But Conservative victory was also a measure of the effectiveness of the rhetoric with which Disraeli clothed the Conservative party after 1872. He donned Palmerston’s mantle and captured new constituencies of electoral support.

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Notes

  1. 4.
    Sir A. Hardinge, Life of Fourth Earl of Carnarvon 3 vols (1925) iii, p. 46.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    W. F. Monypenny and G. E. Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli 6 vols (1910–20) v, pp. 190–1.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    T. E. Kebbel, Selected Speeches of the Earl of Beaconsfield (1882) ii, pp. 470–89.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    R. Blake, Disraeli (1966) p. 550.Google Scholar
  5. Paul Smith, Disraelian Conservatism and Social Reform (1967) remains essential reading on this topic.Google Scholar
  6. 20.
    See T. A. Jenkins, Gladstone, Whiggery and the Liberal Party, 1874–1886 (1988) p. 54.Google Scholar
  7. 22.
    See P. R. Ghosh, ‘Style and Substance in Disraelian Social Reform c.1860–80’, in P. J. Waller (ed.), Politics and Social Change in Modern Britain (1987) pp. 59–90.Google Scholar
  8. 25.
    Marvin Swartz, The Politics of British Foreign Policy in the Era of Disraeli and Gladstone (1985) pp. 6–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 34.
    Richard Shannon, Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation, 1876 (1963) p. 45.Google Scholar
  10. 38.
    E. Hodder, Life and Work of the Earl of Shaftesbury (1887) iii, p. 375.Google Scholar
  11. 51.
    Stanley Journal, 1851, Disraeli, Derby and the Conservative Party: Political Journals of Lord Stanley, 1848–69 ed. J. Vincent (Brighton, 1978) p. 31.Google Scholar
  12. 53.
    P. R. Ghosh, ‘Disraelian Conservatism: A Financial Approach’, English Historical Review, 99 (1984) pp. 268–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 54.
    Paul Smith, ‘Disraeli’s Politics’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 37 (1987) pp. 65–86; and Vincent, Disraeli (1990) .Google Scholar

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© Angus Hawkins 1998

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  • Angus Hawkins

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