' "Securing" the Suffrage'
Cartoon from Fun, 30 March 1867, NS, 5, p. 29
N. 2706 d. 13
The absence of household suffrage from the Russell-Gladstone Bill of 1866 had been a major disappointment to the Radical elements of the Liberal party. Keen to maintain their frail grip on power, Derby and Disraeli resolved to 'secure the suffrage' for the Conservatives by formulating an alternative Bill around the measure (see Items 106 and 108). With the ageing Prime Minister detached in the Lords, Disraeli became the driving force in preparing the legislation. Introduced on 18th March 1867, the proposal met with deep Cabinet opposition (see Items 109 and 110). The Chancellor responded with a dazzling show of deception by maintaining an appearance of all things to all men. He compiled an astonishing body of statistics - described in his own words as the 'Serbonian bog' - to confuse detractors, and circumvent the government's lack of strength.
The above cartoon displays the absolute distrust Gladstone held for his political nemesis. Disraeli is once more portrayed as a Jewish street peddler, synonymous in the popular Victorian mind with cunning and deceit. Noticeably however his Semitic features are represented with greater menace - assuming a form more twisted and sinister than the comparably benign illustrations already shown here (see for example, Items 72 & 107). Whilst 'Crafty Benjamin' reassures the audience of his popular intentions, Gladstone warns a prospective buyer of the shallowness of Disraeli's commitment - selling household suffrage 'on the cheap' to bolster his own political ambitions.
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