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I have never understood the claim that Cameron lacks substance. He has had all too much: against grammar schools, against tax cuts, for staying in the EPP, for positive discrimination, for environmental extremism etc. The problem is that it is left wing substance, and that it conflicts with the right wing substance of his 2005 manifesto, suggesting that the substance merely reflects his superficial Blairite obsession with short term impressions.

Record of achievements second to none

Peel's 'record' included splitting his Party and putting it out of power for a generation.

You could try blaming Disraeli (early 'UKIP Troll'?) I suppose, but as far as I am concerned the fault lies with the aloof, self-righteous Peel for failing to carry his party with him.

Now where have we seen that sort of thing recently?

Peel put country before party; clearly a concept Traditional Tory disagrees with!

Shock horror as biographer champions their subject!

Peel put country before party

That, of course, is what they all claim.

I never had much time at all for Peel until I learned that Carlyle, whom I revere, was a great supporter and admirer.

Perhaps his Corn Law policy was right, but his failure to persuade was utterly wrong. Cameron is exactly like that. He tells people how they should think without bothering to consult them. The miracle is that he got away with it until Grammargate.

Peel died screaming in agony after being crushed by his horse. A few days later a flaneur overheard a Tory duke exclaim with obvious satisfaction 'He died as he lived, a coward to the end.'

Shall we see such venom split the party again? If Cameron remains leader, probably yes.

Even though they apparently disliked each other intensely both were fine PMs in their own way and both achieved a huge amount for our country.

"Peel put country before party"

Cameron puts his own ambitions before party (and country).

But as Trad Tory said: Cameron may like Peel cause the splitting of the party.

I have just had the pleasure of writing an AS-level History exam on the politics of this era. I could have written about Disraeli's successes, but preferred to write on why the Liberal Party came into being.

Peel was a man ahead of his time; a fantastic leader and forward-thinker. The Conservative party were not so hot on the issues, and were so self-interested that they booted him out in 1846. Perhaps lessons can be learned for today? Cameron may leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Tories, but he is going to win them votes.

What would Disraeli have done over Grammar schools? He would have come up with a witty one-liner, then started a war somewhere. Peel would have forced the stubborn party to drop their outdated policy and to see the bigger picture.

If there are debates over progression within the party that are not present elsewhere, you should do the Peelite thing and move on.

The problem was Ali, as I stated previously, that Peel split his party and ended up in the doghouse with a small number of supporters (who eventually drifted off to the Liberals)

Cameron and the Cameroons claim it's all about winning so Peel failed on that count OTOH he also failed to keep in with his 'core vote' so his strategy was an all-round loser.

It's commendable being a man of principle, but when your principles really belong to a different party it's time to call it a day.

Peel's frosty relations with the Queen would also, no doubt, have ended up in the gossip columns if he were PM today.

Ali 19.25 - very interesting and profound comment from one who is presumably young.You will do well. The problem on this site that too few wish to see "the bigger picture" because they would have to admit they were wrong.

So what is 'the bigger picture', Perdix?

I'm sorry if the historical facts are depressingly downbeat.

I think we can say of Peel that he had some substance and no style; of Disraeli that he had both substance and style in spades, and of Cameron...well you know the rest.

Lol Traditional Tory @ 16.41. How about a certain Margaret Thatcher? Record of achievements: second to none. Afterwards: a incomparably weak government and then the party out of power for ten years. Party totally split over Europe.

Great leaders always leave a void behind them.

Disraeli was an interesting character. He joined the Conservatives having originally been associated with a different Party (as a Radical). He split the Conservative Party over an issue on which he was clearly wrong. He invented a new nick-name for his Party (or re-invented/popularized the name), "Tory" (the only time Peel ever used the term "Tory" was in self-deprecation or abuse - he was always and definitely a Conservative). (And of course for much of the time the faction Disraeli led were the Protectionists - Peel led the "Conservative Party" right to his end.)

BUT, Disraeli had a ruthlessly pragmatic streak, which allowed him to accept the free trade settlement in due course, to rather steel the Liberals' clothes on extension of the franchise, and to significantly increase the power of Party discipline. In due course this appetite for power over principle served the Party well as an election-winner, and a Party, that might have gone the way of many groupings that last only a few decades before passing unlamented into history, instead became the second-longest-lived in a major democracy, and the most electorally successful. Disraeli was, I think, in the first rank of Conservative Party leaders, and towards the top of the second rank of British Prime Ministers (comparable to, say, Tony Blair).

If you support Boyd Hilton's assessment of Peel then Peel wanted to split the Tories and Peelites on a Liberal measure to form a Liberal ministry. He created the Conservative party and then destroyed it and in so doing created the Liberal party.

One has visions of the great Norman Gash pointing in lecture to his mini statue of Peel proclaiming "he was without question the greatest British statesman of the 19th Century".

Disraeli's ministries were disasters, he was not involved in the successful legislation of the likes of Cross, Smith & even Plimsoll. He delegated legislation like Blair. His much vaunted "imperial adventures" were problematic and not even as far reaching as Gladstone's unwanted colonial expansion. The imperial adventures and the idea of creating Victoria, Empress of India were designed to take the focus away from domestic problems.
Where was Dizzy's substance? Not in legislation. His Berlin Congress was a success but created future problems. His colonial expansion was accidental (apart from the Suez purchase) costly and not always to Britain's benefit.

Disraeli stood and lost 3 times as a radical. Then turned Tory. Young England & One Nation conservatism was akin to a victorian 3rd way or "New Labour". Disraeli like Blair was merely a good politician not a good Prime Minister.

"Tory" (the only time Peel ever used the term "Tory" was in self-deprecation or abuse - he was always and definitely a Conservative).

At the time Peel first entered politics I would imagine (subject to correction) that he was obliged to accept the title 'Tory' in the absence of a better alternative.

He didn't like it, of course and later attempted to substitute the continentally-inspired 'Conservative' but that in itself was misguided on two fronts.

Firstly and immediately the neologism was seen as 'foreign' and mealy-mouthed. It was one of the many bludgeons with which Disraeli assaulted Peel.

Secondly, and lastingly, Peel applied to a wide-ranging right-of-centre 'coalition' a term which - everywhere except England - came to denote parties not far removed from the ultra-right.

That is why, in this country, so much utter rubbish has been written in an attempt to explain, ideologically, 'what Conservatism is'. For an intelligent English-language overview one frequently has to turn to American writers.

'Toryism' as a quasi-absolutist ideology was dealt its death blow by the intransigent conduct and inevitable abdication of James II. The old Tories reinvented themself as constitutionalists of course, just as the Deep South segregationists of yesterday now proclaim their love of civil rights. Then at last the accession of the Hanoverians brought the coup de grace.

Exiled Tories such as Bolingbroke descended into eloquent flights of fantasy while others plotted against the state. However, long before 1745 the ideology was dead and tainted, much as Fascism is in modern Europe.

This was the major problem Feiling faced when he undertook his history of the Tory Party. For years no serious politician (not Burke and neither of the Pitts) would ever accept the title 'Tory', although the term was invariably applied to the ever-changing parliamentary factions supporting the Court, or seen to be 'anti-progressive'.

Self-styled 'Tories' such as Johnson and Hume were mavericks out to annoy, and they were not parliamentarians.

I suppose it was the Revolution of 1789 and the subsequent reaction, that finally drew a line under the Jacobite dimension, and 'decontaminated' the term Tory to the extent that those opposed to the party of progress were comfortable about using it again.

This is Feiling's 'Second Tory Party', soon closely associated with the reactionary views of Eldon, Sidmouth et al. Then comes the disaster of 1832.

With his 'Conservatism' Peel attempts to reinvent his party for the post-1832 era but Disraeli leads the reaction. Disraeli's 'Toryism' is a romantic fantasy but none the less significent for that

It is difficult to discern much that is Tory (in any sense of the word) or indeed Conservative in the leadership of today's Conservative Party

Apologies. 'Significant'

Introduced an undramatic series of social measures

Highly important measures to the benefit of ordinary people, many of whom could not vote on issues like housing, workmen's compensation, electoral reform, adulteration of food, and even nationalisation of the undersea cable....he even managed to crown Victoria Empress of India so she did not feel inferior to the Emperor of Germany.

Disraeli attracted working class voters to a political system where Liberals were the party of the factory owners and his trick of fusing aristocratic landowners with skilled working class voters allowed Salisbury to keep the Liberals out of power until Asquith and Lloyd George switched tack.

Hurd forgets that other Peelite - William Gladstone. Peel of course was a Northerner from Bury, a Grammar School boy (Hipperholme) and Gladstone an Old Etonian with Liverpool roots. Disraeli in contrast did NOT go to Westminster like his brothers.

I find Douglas Hurd eminently forgetable though once I did think he might have the makings of a decent foreign secretary, though he and Pauline Neville Jones seems to have parlayed it into money-making privatising Serbian State assets for that boutique bank.

Peel was a manufacturer's son - do we have any such in Parliament today ? He was cold and efficient, I think that might descreibe Gordon Brown more than David Cameron. However, Peel was Prime Minister of the richest country in the world, an imperial power.....whereas today Britain is a region of the European Union tied down in a web of alliances and treaties that make the very governance of the country impossible.

The very issue Peel split his party over - The Corn Laws - was the model for the CAP in the EU and used exactly the same reference pricing system - corn and the cost of growing it on marginal land as a consequence of wartime needs for self-sufficiency.

Peel represented his class interest as a manufacturer against the party interest as an agricultural party; he did so because of Ireland and the work of Cobden and Bright, the Manchester School, and The Economist.

Today he would not be able to do anything without consulting the Council of Ministers and promising France the earth

'what Conservatism is'

Tamworth Manifesto......Robert Blake tried to develop a coherent basis for Conservatism - but in reality it reinvented itself in 1922 as Anti-Communist and then had to decide if it was Imperialist or Free-Trading too.

It is simply a party that defines its lust for power by taking account of its competitors, it has no underlying principles save an Etonian attitude that it should be in power for reasons of status not performance.

Disraeli and Gladstone took Peel's principle and built parties on the changing socio-economic base of the country at a time of expansion.....now the game is to fabricate growth by shifting incentives and grabbing any passing cashpile whether pension fuunds, N Sea Oil, 3G mobile auctions, or whatever.....Britain is in global trading terms of exports ex-growth and a fund in run-off.

Clearly the comparisons here between Disraeli and Peel are between Cameron and Brown. Brown is seen to be dour but has performed well in office (we know he hasnt but thats not what the public think) whilst Cameron has used a lot of spin to get his point. The suibstance isnt actually his. His speeches are very flowery and there isnt the intellectual rigour which there was in the past. Letwins article explaining Cameron Conservatism is an example of this. Keith Joseph and Thatcher took four years to argue the case.

Keith Joseph and Thatcher took four years to argue the case.

They also co-opted academics rather than journalists to the CPS and produced proper researched policies with some coherence

Peel was a legend, ultimately constrained by his party's self-interested protectionism. There's no doubt that he was right in repealing the Corn Laws. Let's not forget the great public respect and popularity it earnt him too. Peel spent 6 months debating the repeal of the Corn Laws in Parliament, trying to persuade the party to accept it. This delay has been lamented for exacerbating the difficulties and food shortages in Ireland at the time. I always thought Peel was a Harrow pupil, and was under the impression that he was rather a good speaker - best maiden speech in the House since that of Pitt etc.

I agree with TomTom's comments about Disraeli's reforms, which can also be applied to his role in passing the 1867 Reform Act. I'm greatly looking forward to reading Hurd's book!

I always thought Peel was a Harrow pupil,

You may well be right......but his father was called Robert also....and it might be...

Wikipedia comments

Peel was educated first at Hipperholme Grammar School, then at Harrow School and finally Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a double first in classics and mathematics.

The assertion that Benjamin Disraeli achieved nothing in his career, when compaed with Peel, is unfounded. I have recently completed an A2 History Dissertaion on Disraei and his achievements in his second ministry (1874-1880) and can safetly say that his leadership was not just phrase-work or war-mongering.

He achieved a great deal in his ministry, notably the second reform act. Alegations that he would have started a war instead of solving problems on the home front can easily be contradicted. For debacle's like Ishandlwana and the problems in Afganistan, were rather a result of over-zealous officials. Disraeli is historically a wordsmith but he was also a successful PM, and significantly, he was in touch with his party. Cameron could do far worse in his choice of a mentor, for what is wrong with a politician with a bit, if not a lot, of charisma. Politics are dead and in this void we turn to men who can add a little romance to the House, a man who can bite and take a blow. Politics is, or at least was, not a friendly sport and that was half the fun. Men made their career on how they performed in the arena not on passing useless safety edicts, or notices on speed camera's. Once again i can say David Cameron could do far worse!

Typical bit of historical revisionism by Hurd. To prefer the man who through obstinacy split the party and kept it our of power for a generation to the man whose career was crowned with a triumphant premiership whose achievements (together with those of his successor Salisbury) kept the party in power for a generation is typically perverse - but what else should we expect from the man who drove the Maastricht Treaty through the Commons ignoring the consciences of MPs, obstinately clung to the disastrous ERM at all costs, and refused to support Bosnia in its hour of need ? If Cameron wants style and substance he should model himself not on Douglas Hurd who talks like a robot, but on Margaret Thatcher - minus the handbags of course.

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