Benjamin Disraeli – Conservative leader and Prime Minister

Mark Rathbone assesses the degree of success achieved by one of the great Victorian Prime Ministers.

Before judging the success or otherwise of historical figures, it is essential first to establish by what criteria one is going to assess their careers. For a British Prime Minister, there are essentially three questions which need to be answered. Did he lead his party to electoral success or defeat? Did his policies promote economic prosperity for the country? And to what extent did he achieve the aims which he set out for himself and his party? This last criterion can often be the most difficult as it involves making a judgement about what the subject’s aims really were; but in Benjamin Disraeli’s case this is fairly straightforward as he declared his aims for the Conservative Party very clearly in two well-publicised speeches in 1872.

‘The Greasy Pole’

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