Friday, April 01, 2011

Benjamin Disraeli was a Conservative?

I often hear cited to Benjamin Disraeli something along the lines of "conserving all that is good and changing all that is bad", which is so vague and open to different sorts of change and conservation as to be incredibly useless.

The Jewish Virtual Library has an article on Prime Minister Disraeli but it seems so deliberately middle of the road and has so little contextual information that without further research I would have no idea what makes the following actions the policy thrusts of a Conservative:

After six years in opposition, Disraeli and the Conservative Party won the 1874 General Election. It was the first time since 1841 that the Tories in the House of Commons had a clear majority. Disraeli now had the opportunity to the develop the ideas that he had expressed when he was leader of the Young England group in the 1840s. Social reforms passed by the Disraeli government included: the Artisans Dwellings Act (1875), the Public Health Act (1875), the Pure Food and Drugs Act (1875), the Climbing Boys Act (1875), the Education Act (1876).
Disraeli also introduced measures to protect workers such as the 1874 Factory Act and the Climbing Boys Act (1875). Disraeli also kept his promise to improve the legal position of trade unions. The Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act (1875) allowed peaceful picketing and the Employers and Workmen Act (1878) enabled workers to sue employers in the civil courts if they broke legally agreed contracts.
I'll admit that any measure designed to protect contracts is a Rightist/Conservative policy move; bucking contracts is something leftists do and protecting the bucking of contracts feels more leftist than anything else.

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