chapter  2
18 Pages

CONSERVATISM AND THE EMPIRE

Benjamin Disraeli’s assertion that the Liberals could not be trusted with Britain’s imperial interests, and that the Conservatives were the only sincere party of Empire, represented an important staging post for the Conservative party. Disraeli seized the nationalist strains of Palmerstonian diplomacy, gave them an imperial twist and sought to establish a Conservative monopoly over ‘patriotic’ issues.2 The purchase of the Suez Canal shares, the aggressive stance adopted in Southern Africa and Afghanistan, the creation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India, and the encouragement of ‘jingoism’ over the Eastern Question made up elements in a process which saw the Conservative party in the 1870s attempt to annex the language of patriotism and Empire.3 From then on the Conservative party sought to present the Liberal party as unpatriotic and anti-imperial and itself as the guardian of national and imperial interests.