Monday, March 03, 2014

Douglas Hurd and author Edward Young discussed their collaborative book on Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli

Yesterday I attended the George Webber Memorial Lecture, held at Kings Place in York Way.

Former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and author Edward Young discussed their collaborative book on Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

From my notes:

"He was the man who destroyed Robert Peel."

"Jews were not persecuted, but they were mocked."

"His achievements were quite small compared to his reputation."

"It was an age when being pompous was a virtue."

"He was opportunist, nasty, and had extraordinary personal relations."

"He was fascinated by the East."

"He was advised that the key to being successful in politics was to be really boring."

"He was very clever at parliamentary manouvres, but it sapped his energy."

"The attempt to subdue Afghanistan went wrong."

"He believed in prestige" (in foreign relations).

"By 1910 there were two million members of the Primrose League."

"Enoch Powell set up the One Nation Dining Group."

Several times Douglas Hurd and Edward Young returned to the lack of any significant "legacy" for Disraeli, compared to the tremendous personal reputation he achieved.

To my mind there is no great mystery about this.  The essence of Conservatism is to leave well alone, and the most successful Conservative Prime Minister is one who leaves society broadly intact, and preserves its institutions from radical upsets.  By this measure Disraeli was an outstanding Prime Minister.

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