To what extent were Gladstone and Disraeli’s foreign policies from 1870 to 1880 driven by different ideologies ?
On one level both Gladstone and Disraeli appear to be driven by differing ideologies: Gladstone was very concerned to ensure that there was a moral element to British foreign policy. By contrast Disraeli’s philosophy was militaristic and expansionist. It was with regard to foreign and imperial policy that we can see the extent to which Gladstone and Disraeli’s ideologies conflicted with one another. Both men were driven by contrasting ideologies, in terms of foreign policy there was a clear divide between Gladstone and Disraeli’s political outlook. In theory at least Disraeli’s aim was to increase Britain’s power, influence and imperial superiority, his motive was to preserve and develop the British Empire. For Gladstone however, this was not the correct path to take with respect to Britain’s foreign policy. Gladstone condemned the way in which Disraeli’s government acted with regard to foreign policy. Disraeli’s government only acted in the interests of Britain, and did not as Gladstone detested, take note of whether their actions were “right or wrong morally”. Gladstone’s foreign policy was considerate and diplomatic; his view incorporated a ‘Concert of Europe’ and the self-determination of nations. Disraeli however, thought in terms of great power politics, gunboat diplomacy and the protection of Britain’s Empire at all costs.