Was Disraeli a Failure?
John Vincent asks a key question of the Conservative politician.
Students often ask, with understandable puzzlement, why Disraeli is the great folk hero of the Conservative Party. The answer, of course, is that the choice was made early on, in the 1880s, and once having been made, it was hardly possible to say the choice was wrong. Disraeli happened to die at a time when Conservatives badly needed a hero. His lieutenants were uninspiring. The official leaders, Northcote and Salisbury, had little public standing. The rising star of the party, Lord Randolph Churchill, drew the crowds; but some wondered if he was a Tory at all, others if he was mad. No wonder that Disraeli never looked so good as in the years just after his death.