Tuesday 20 March 2012

What's with that briefcase?

Tomorrow is Budget Day in the UK, the day where the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the guy who looks after the economy, currently George Osborne) presents the budget plan for the nation to the House of Commons.   I've got a few things to say about what George is expected to announce in the budget, but we'll save that for another day.

More importantly for now, chances are if you live in the UK, you have seen a photo or news clip that looks similar to this:

Have you ever wondered what the deal is with that crappy old briefcase and why the Chancellors always like to show it off? 

It's called the budget box or the Gladstone box.  Basically, its just a briefcase that holds the budget papers, but that old one in the photo above is special because it was used from 1860 by William Ewart Gladstone until 1965 when James Callaghan decided it was time for an upgrade and used a newer but basically identical briefcase.  In 1997 Gordon Brown upgraded the box again, but in 2008 Alistair Darling went back to using the very original box (trying to earn some points with some people maybe?).  George Osborne kept using it when he took over, but has since retired the original 1860 Gladstone box due to its fragility.  Tomorrow, you'll see him with a shiny new briefcase full of budget papers and when you do, you'll know all about the history of the budget box!  You're welcome.

Did you know? 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is allowed to have an alcoholic drink whilst he presents the budget. This is the only time alcohol is allowed during speeches to Parliament. 

According to Wikipedia, previous Chancellors have opted for whisky (Kenneth Clarke), gin and tonic (Geoffrey Howe), brandy and water (Benjamin Disraeli), spritzer (Nigel Lawson) and sherry and beaten egg (William Gladstone).  Boring old Osborne apparently just has water.  What a waste!


  1. Well, as the Tories are planning on bringing in a tax on cheap alcohol, maybe George is trying to set a good example? ;-)

  2. I am certain you're right Paul. Hands off my cheap booze, George!