Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Midlothian campaign was a series of foreign policy speeches given by William Gladstone. It often cited as the first modern political campaign. It also set the stage for Gladstone's comeback as a politician. It takes its name from the Midlothian district in Scotland.
In 1876, news of a series of atrocities by the Ottomans against the Bulgarian people reached the British press, despite the strong censorship of the Bulgarian authorities. British public reaction was generally one of dismay, fuelled by the public prints, but the government of Benjamin Disraeli continued its policy of support for the Ottoman Empire, an ally in the Crimean War.
Gladstone took up the issue slowly, at first appearing uninterested. By 1878 he was publishing articles in favour of ending British economic support for Turkey in response. By 1880, Gladstone's dogged focus on the issue had dragged it to the forefront of public attention, and in the general election of 1880, Gladstone toured a series of cities giving speeches of up to five hours on the subject. The nature of his orations has often been compared to that of sermons, and his fiery, emotive, but logically structured speeches are credited with swaying a large number of undecided voters to the Liberals in the 1880, and ousting Disraeli's last Conservative government.
Equally important to the large scale of attendance at these meetings (several thousand came to each, and given the relatively narrow scale of the franchise, this meant Gladstone could address a large proportion of electors in each district) was the widespread reporting of Gladstone's speeches and the public reaction to them.
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