CLIO mr brice - page 49

The split of the Conservative party that followed
after the debate was inevitable, and those loyal to
Peel (including Gladstone) formed their own Peelite
party faction, and the protectionist group, including
Disraeli, united under Lord Derby. From this moment
on, Gladstone would not forget Disraeli’s character
assassination of his beloved leader.
The conflict between
Gladstone and Disraeli was
to grow as the aftermath of
the Conservative split took
place. As their careers grew
and developed, so did the
ideological divide between
them. By 1848 Disraeli
was part of a triumvirate,
leading the opposing party
faction and, by 1852
he had succeeded to the
position of Chancellor of
the Exchequer with Derby
in Office. However, this
was not a position in which
Disraeli excelled, with
many noting that he was
out of his depth, having
little knowledge of finance
and economics. Gladstone
was infuriated that his rival
had acquired such a high
position before him, and
when Derby’s ministry
fell, Gladstone jumped at the chance of taking over
Disraeli’s position under a Whig-Peelite coalition. The
1850’s and 60’s were a mixture of Conservative minority
governments, and also Whig ones. Gladstone and
Disraeli were constantly entering and leaving the role of
Chancellor, but it was clear that the Conservatives were
beginning to lose their power and influence. In 1859,
the Whigs, Peelites, Radicals and some Irish MPs (who
were loosely formed factions in parliament) decided
that they wanted to bring down the Derby and Disraeli
ministry which they felt was acting inadequately and
inefficiently. They decided that if they unified, they
could create a strong and opposing force which would
keep the Conservatives out of power. This was a defining
moment in British political history. It was known as the
Willis Room meeting and it was here that these political
groupings came together to form the ‘Liberal Party’. This
development had a huge impact on both politicians,
with Gladstone beginning to flourish under the Liberal
party, establishing his own strand of ‘Gladstonian
Liberalism’, but Disraeli’s political career hitting rock
bottom as he remained out of office until 1874.
By 1868, Gladstone had become the Prime Minister,
beating Disraeli to it and earning himself the name ‘The
People’s William’. He had dazzled the electorate with his
ideas on free trade, abolishing income tax and getting
in touch with the ‘grassroots’; visiting factory workers
and showing an interest
in the needs of the public.
His first ministry, which
lasted 6 years, would
consist of him excessively
reforming, trying to deal
with religious issues,
as well as dealing with
England’s troublesome
neighbour, Ireland.
Gladstone used his moral
compass to try and please
many different groups
in society. However,
this did not work in
his favour, and Disraeli
picked up on it as he
began touring the country,
making speeches which
heightened the growing
sense of public unease
about the propensities of
Gladstone’s Liberal party
and their blundering
reforms. Disraeli attacked
Gladstone mercilessly during these 1872 speeches,
criticising his foreign policy and offering better
alternatives, and by 1874, Gladstone’s time reforming
was up; Disraeli took over as Prime Minister.
Gladstone
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