Party Leader and as Prime Minister

Assess Disreali's successes during the period 1866 – 1880 in dealing with the varied problems, which faced him as a Party Leader and as Prime Minister. Disreali was born in 1804 to a Jewish family, although he was later baptised a Christian. This was an important decision and would have considerable affect on his career, as during the time only members of the 'Church of England' could be a Member of Parliament. Disreali became a Member of Parliament in 1837, leader of the Tory Party in 1859, and finally became Prime Minister, at the age of 70 in 1874, Disreali died in 1881.

During his time as both Prime Minister and Party Leader he faced many problems at home and abroad especially during the period of 1866 -80. Disreali was known for liking the finer things in life, like nice clothes, social life and women. This lifestyle made people not take him completely seriously. Many of the other members of parliament did not like him very much and regarded him with suspicion. This caused Disreali a problem when trying to get to the top of his 'greasy pole'. However in 1872 he made two speeches/ manifestos that changed the opinions of many that doubted him and had previously regarded him with contempt.

Disreali talked about wanting to improve living conditions for the working class and also the standard of the quality of food that they were eating. Other points he talked about were the moral issues of the time, for example 'upholding the British Empire' and 'maintaining the institutions of the country'. Though as mentioned above his main issue for concern was that of helping those less fortunate than himself. Perhaps this was because of his less fortunate past or that he was trying to appeal to the population of voters, the working class, in order to gain their support at a later date.

A cartoon published on the 6th of July 1872 shows Lord Aberdeen (a Conservative peer) approaching Disreali, underneath is written a caption. Disreali when asked is meant to have said out of the top of his head, 'Tell them, my good Abercorn, with my compliments what we propose to rely on the good sublime instincts of ancient people! ' This quote is Disreali directly quoting himself, as the part underlined has come straight from the speech at crystal palace. It makes the words seem meaning less. As Conservative leader he passed the 1867 Reform Act.

This meant that the working class men were finally allowed to vote for the first time. There was now a whole new 'population' of people to deal with and to convince who the best Prime Minister was for the country. This meant that any new reform, ideas and changes had to consider the needs of all the classes. Even though Palmerston did not want this reform to be passed, Disreali and other members of Parliament made sure that it was not regarded as a threat and Britain would not be faced with the same problems as other European countries.

Disreali believed that it was time for the working class to have their say. Prime Minister Disreali also passed many great reforms that would directly affect the working class and the way they lived. Also, as the Liberals supported most of the reforms that the Conservatives wanted to pass, it meant that they got through Parliament twice as quickly. This was a great help for Disreali as it enabled the reforms to be put into action as soon as possible. Therefore affecting people's lives for the better.

There were many issues in Disreali's office that had not been looked at before, as people had not been previously aware of how they affected their lives. For example, never before had a Condition of Food Act (1875), been passed or even thought about. The Act ensured that the buying and selling of food was monitored. Therefore helping to prevent the problem of people putting or adding ingredients into the food that should not be there. So creating an increased awareness of how important reforms like this were to the lives, health and safety of the population.

The problem of river pollution (1875) was another example of new initiatives that Disreali's Party tackled. At the time the River Thames especially was used to dump lots of waste products in it, this consisted of human excrement and household waste, to chemicals from the local businesses and the factories. The reform stopped all of the industrial waste from being put in to all rivers, this act wasn't enforced very well as all non poisonous waste could still be put into it, but again this was considered important to the improvement of living conditions of Britain at the time.

Problems with working conditions were also looked at in Disreali's governments' reforms. The reform he passed was called; – The Employers and Workman's act (1875). It meant that the employer and the employee were on the same terms. If either one of them breached their contracts, then they would be under the same scrutiny. Under this new reform both of them would be promoted equally ensuring the conditions in most factories improved due to equal treatment and co-operation on both sides.

The result of this was due to the employer not wishing to loose any of his power, there was not the willingness to carry this reform through. One of Disreali's weaker reforms was the Artisan's Dwelling Act (1875). This was not as effective as his other reforms as it was dealing with social issues rather than the more important economic issues. The decision to make the pubs opening hour's four hours longer than before was very popular with the working class and with the people that owned the pubs, but this not so with the other classes.