Similarities Between Gladstone And Benmin Disraeli

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The United Kingdom is one of the most powerful nations during the Victorian era, and its Empire now spreads all over the continents. The second half of the 19th Century could potentially be analysed through the foreign policy of the two main political figures at the time: William Ewart Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli. Both are ambitious, charismatic leaders, and both were several times elected as British Prime Ministers. The following texts, which we will analyse, represent both parties: firstly, W. E Gladstone’s speech to the House of Commons on May 1877, on the debate concerning the Eastern Question, and secondly Benjamin Disraeli’s speech at the Crystal Palace concerning the maintenance of the Empire on June 24, 1872. Both texts aim to convince…show more content…
The Liberal prime minister declares, at the end of his first paragraph: “And then I ask you, what quarrel can ever arise between any two countries, or what war in which you may not, if you be so minded, set up British interests on a ground of interference ?” (l.8-10). The very history of the empire shows that its extension was made at the expense of many other countries, such as the political instability of “India” (l.11), as raised by the politician, which led to the growing power of the East India Company. But this also means that the British empire is at risk: with its will to conquer and meddle, it creates conflicts which can potentially backfire on them. In this sense, Mr Gladstone’s foreign policy is rather isolationist, that is to say that the best interest of the nation is not to military intervene if possible: it is costly and unnecessarily dangerous. Less colonial extension would mean less occasion to use the army. As such, he does not completely view colonies as Mr Disraeli does: a military and strategic asset. He explains, (l.22) that the country “[...] could call from aid from colonies themselves.” Colonies can only enhance the military capacity, in numbers, of the British army. Many Indian soldiers were thus used by the East India Company during conflicts. But it is also a strategical location, and…show more content…
It is known that Mr Gladstone, as a liberal, defends free trade. Although this aspect is not brought up in his speech, a reference is made in Mr Disraeli’s speech. Mr Disraeli says, (L.8): “it has been proved to all of us that we have lost money in colonies.” and explains that this argument has been used by his political opponents as a justification to “disintegrate” (l.32) the empire. Although, as previously explains, Mr Disraeli’s concedes that the colonies are in need of reform, it is only an argumentative tactic to strengthen his own argument. The Tories are aware of the weakness of the colonies, and are prepared to act upon it. It is only a matter of reform, easily solved if resolved by the right person, as Mr Disraeli implies in his speech with his detailed solutions. To him, the economic weaknesses of colonies are not relevant arguments to justify the reduction of the colonial empire. Moreover, Mr Disraeli clearly expresses his economic protectionist ideas, by mentioning the necessity of implementing an “imperial tariff” (l.19), an interesting opposition to the liberal notion of free trade. Colonies are an economic disadvantage for the Liberal Party, but Mr Disraeli showed us a different aspect which only aided him to develop his protectionist
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