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Publication date: 8th April 2013 by Professor Eric Evans, Dr Rosie Kennedy, Professor Stanley Henig, Professor Richard Grayson, Professor Keith Laybourn, Dr Daniel Todman, Dr Helen Parr &
Part 1. Politics, Reform and War
Social & Political Change in the UK 1800-present: Part 1. Politics, Reform and War

Gladstone and Disraeli - Reform and Rivalry

In this podcast Professor Eric Evans discusses the relationship and rivalry between Gladstone and Disraeli and their reforms.

 

1. The rivalry and antipathy between Gladstone and Disraeli: Backgrounds and early careers. Envy, prejudice and antagonism.

 

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2. Conservative and Liberal differences. Religion: Liberals - Anglican and Nonconformist supporters, Conservatives: Anglicans/Landowner supporters devoted to the primacy of the aristocracy and landowners. Liberal cautious desire for reform and extension of voting rights. Disraeli commits his party to reform and revives his party with a new identity.

 

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3. Commitment to reform - how significant were Gladstone's reforms? Gladstone not a democrat. Economic and social turbulence & the influence of Sir Robert Peel. Administrative reform to local government, army and the law. Making things more efficient. Forster's Education Act: making education more available and new non denominational school boards.

 

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4. Public Health Act, the Licensing Act and the downfall of the Gladstone government. Disraeli elected under the banner of liberating people from regulation and the dead hand of the state.

 

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5. Disraeli 1874 - building on Gladstone's legislation. Was Disraeli genuinely a social reformer? Disraeli's focus on foreign policy and the expansion of the British Empire. The threat of the new German Empire and the Russian Empire.

 

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6. The legalising of Trade Unions by Gladstone and the legalising of peaceful picketing by Disraeli. Housing Acts: Better housing and sanitation for working people and tenants. What were Disraeli's motives? New Education Act. Eye catching legislation for new voters.

 

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7. The Balkan Crisis - After 2 years social legislation dries up as Disraeli makes foreign policy a selling point to the new electorate. Hopes from Disraeli's rhetoric to the new working class electorate disappointed - Disraeli had no real interest in detailed social legislation but had an overall objective to make the Conservative Party a viable part of government.

 

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Suggested Reading:

R.Aldous, The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone versus Disraeli (Pimlico Press, London, 2007)

E.Biagini, Gladstone (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2000)

H.G.C.Matthew, Gladstone, 1809-1898 (Clarendon, Oxford, 1998)

E.Feuchtwanger, Disraeli (Hodder Headline, London, 2000)

T.A.Jenkins, Parliament, Party and Politics in Victorian Britain (Manchester University Press, 1996)

Eric J.Evans, The Shaping of Modern Britain: Identity, Industry and Empire, 1780-1914 (Pearson Education, Harlow, 2011

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