[The following paragraphs come from G. Kitson Clark’s The Making of Victorian England. I have added five political cartoons that relate to Churchill’s career. — George P. Landow]
Two cartoons from the humor magazine Fun commenting on Churchill and Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. Left: The Two Lord Randolphs. Right: The Lay of the Last Minstrel. A Song of Dissolution. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Lord Randolph Churchill, the son of the Duke of Marlborough, was already waging a lively campaign both against Gladstone, his natural target, and against the leader of his own party in the House of Commons, Sir Stafford Northcote. . . . Lord Randolph. . . realized that if theConservative party was to regain power it must attract new classes and that it must break away from the old oligarchical methods to enable new men to have their part in the management. He therefore developed the creed of Tory Democracy and for a season endeavoured to turn the Council of the National Union into an effective representative body, while he helped to create a new popular Conservative organization in the Primrose League. But brilliant and swiftly successful though he was, he may not have fully realized what hand he ought to play. For if it was true that the most likely recruits for the Conservative party were men who had achieved wealth, then an advanced social policy which competed with Chamberlain for the support of the working classes was not likely to attract them.
Left: The Union Waits: Hartington, Balfour, and Salisbury. Middle: Under the Misteltoe. Scene from the Grand Irish Pantomime. — Balfour forces his attention on Ireland while Salisbury looks on (and is alarmed?). Right: To the Rescue. Salisbury and Churchill under attack from Gladstone’s speeches in Parliament. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
He also may not have realized the full realities of his own personal situation, or the power of those he was playing against. He was confronted in fact by a much more formidable figure than the amiable and ineffective Stafford Northcote, for the real leader of the party was the leader in the House of Lords, that formidable bearded figure the Marquis of Salisbury, and it is also possible that Lord Randolph did not recognize the full danger, brilliance and ruthlessness of one very close to him, who had indeed been one of his allies, but was Lord Salisbury’s nephew, A. J. Balfour. 
The tragic and significant fact about the Lucifer dive of Randolph Churchill is that apparently it had no effect whatsoever on the course of events. The Conservative party forward conquering and to conquer. 1886 seems to be one of the decisive turning-points in political history. Between 1868 and 1885 the Conservative party and the forces it represented in the country appear to be in irremediable decline while the Liberal party is in the ascendant. After 1886 the Conservatives enjoyed power till 1905, with the exception of the years 1892-95. [240; emphasis added]
Clark, G. Kitson. The Making of Victorian England. New York: Athenaeum, 1971.
Last modified 31 May 2018