Like Disraeli, Cameron plays well with a poor hand

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Like Disraeli, Cameron plays well with a poor hand

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The hand he always wanted?

"Of course these are the cards I wanted"

David Cameron has recently been much compared to Benjamin Disraeli, the Tory prime minister who warned that extension of the vote would be tantamount to letting the mob into power. Disraeli eventually adopted the cause as his own, shattering his party in the process. In his own negotiations, Cameron has apparently shown a similar ability to change his mind. But is it laudable pragmatism or—as some (former) Lib Dem supporters would have it—brutal realpolitik?

Disraeli, before the twists that would bring him to the premiership, delivered his first-ever Budget (in 1852) with proper bombast. Outrageously, he proposed to establish income tax–thus far a temporary revenue-raising measure–in perpetuity. An even bigger problem was his economic policy, which  imposed protectionist price controls. Disraeli probably knew that he could not get his budget passed, because a significant number of his own MPs had dedicated themselves

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  1. May 28, 2010

    Tim Hughes

    An interesting historical reading of events which is perhaps a little forced. Just a few point to consider-
    1)Disraeli did not shatter his party over the Second Reform act despite a number of key resignations. He united his party and effectively split the Liberals in the way he managed to get large numbers of Liberal backbenchers to vote against their leadership. It is also the case that the willingness to accept household suffrage had been favourably considered by Derby and Disraeli at an early stage and while rejected by the Cabinet is not quite the u-turn it might apppear.
    2)The key point about the Budget of 1852 was Disraeli’s desire for the Conservative party to abandon protectionism of which he was probably never a sincere supporter.
    3)On Disraeli’s approaches to Gladstone in 1858, if you read the letter he wrote to Gladstone then its sincerity must be questioned and Gladstone’s reponse can be no suprise.
    4)Disraeli did approach Bright on the eve of the 1852 budget vote which stands out as a little open in his aliances.

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