The late Victorian period was influenced by two important political figures, Gladstone and Disraeli. Gladstone, initially Tory leader, moved to the Liberals and free trade. He was instrumental in a lot of reforms, such as the removal of religious testing for university, the liberalisation to the military and civil service, extention of voting rights to working classes and legislation of free trade unions. His political opponent was the Jewish Disraeli, a popular statesman and novelist. He was a reformer in spirit though he tried to establish working people and aristocracy. Both Gladston and Disraeli advocated a policy of gradual incorporation of the working classes through reform. In fact this is a period of great reform in England, while in the rest of Europe there were revolutionary insurrections. The Elementary Education Act gave the basic education to the children, and Trade Union Act made trade union legal. The ideology of reform led to the modern welfare state.
A time of new ideas
The late Victorian period was also the age in which modern democracy, feminism and socialism or Marxism took form. Stuart Mill, right activist, failed in obtaining the vote for women and it provoked women's groups uniting in Mrs Fawcett's National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, then superseded by the more radical Women's Social and Political Union, led by the
“suffragettes". Through Fabian Society, the intellectuals tried to obtaine reform. But the most important new idea of the Victorian period was Darwin's "theory of evolution": his work, The Origin of Species, undermined the religious beliefs and the model of creationism.