Benjamin Disraeli prime minister 1868, and 1874 - 1880. What would Disraeli have made of recent debates about MPs having jobs outside Parliament? See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
March 1, 2015
There is debate at the moment about whether MPs should accept work outside Parliament. This problem has rumbled on since 1911, when David Lloyd George introduced an annual payment of £400 for MPs. This payment was designed to open politics up to those who did not have the independent fortune necessary to work for nothing. It did, however, create a class of professional politician, who in some cases would know little in their life except politics. Plans to forbid MPs from taking outside work would of course increase this sense of exclusion. It seems that whether MPS are paid or not, government seems to naturally become its own closed world.
Back in the nineteenth century Benjamin Disraeli accepted the closed nature of politics. His great rival William Gladstone once said of him: "Mr Disraeli was in the centre of three rings - his party, which he understood perfectly and governed completely; the House of Commons, of which his knowledge was good; the country, of which he was very ignorant". Perhaps, however, Disraeli understood more than Gladstone realised. Gladstone with his religious earnestness assumed that he could change the fate of nations. He felt the highest office in the world's most powerful country must confer real power on its holder. Disraeli knew better. He realised that managing Parliament was a symbolic act in managing Britain, but did not always go much further. Disraeli was very clear sighted about life, where others believed in various conventional delusions. Thomas Carlyle said: "Dizzy is a charlatan and knows it. Gladstone is a charlatan and does not know it." If you have to be a charlatan, then it is much safer to know the reality of what you are dealing with.
Historical news for March
An exhibition of salted paper prints, one of the earliest forms of photography, is currently being staged at the Tate Britain. Dating back to 1839, the fragility of these prints means very few survive, making this a rare opportunity to experience some of the world's earliest photography. The event runs 25th February - 27th June. For more details go to http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/salt-and-silver-early-photography-1840
Meanwhile in Bradford, at the National Media Museum, the world's oldest photograpic society, the Royal Photographic Society will be displaying 200 of its most historic images. Exhibtion begins on 20th March, and runs until 21st June. For more information go to http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/planavisit/exhibitions/drawn-by-light/about
The Tate St Ives is currently staging an exhibition on the development of international photography from the 1920s - 1960s. The exhibition runs until 10th May 2015. For more details go to: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-st-ives/exhibition/modern-lens-international-photography-and-tate-collection
Anniversaries for March
2nd March 1938: The steam locomotive Mallard is officially completed at LNER Doncaster Works. This train still holds the world speed record for a steam train at 125.88 mph.
9th March 1776: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith in published, a milestone in the study of economics.
12th March 1947: The Truman Doctrine is announced, whereby the United States undertook to assist any country threatened by the Soveity Union or communism.
19th March 1982:Argentinian forces land on South Georgia Island, beginning the Falklands War with Britain.
22nd March 1963: The Beatles first album Please Please Me is released.
23rd March 1977: Journalist and television personality David Frost famously conducts twelve interviews with former United States president Richard Nixon.
31st March 1990: Around 200,000 join a protest in London against the Poll Tax introduced by the government of Margaret Thatcher.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.