|The original Gladstone budget box, made in 1860|
Every year the British Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his annual budget plans in a speech in parliament. For some years I followed the moment when the chancellor would stand outside No11 Downing St and show the red box containing 'The Budget'. In this post I want to discuss the red box itself, rather than the fearsome documents it usually carries.
Apparently the original budget box was made for William Gladstone in 1860. You can see various chancellors carrying it here .
According to Wikipedia, the first chancellor to break with this tradition was James Callaghan, in 1965. The following chancellors went back to using the 1860 briefcase though.
The tradition was broken again in 1997, when Gordon Brown became the chancellor and commissioned a different briefcase. But his follower, Alistair Darling, went back to the old battered briefcase, as did George Osborne in 2010.
|Alistair Darling (Chancellor 2007-10) holding the good old red box|
|George Osborne, current chancellor, outside #11 in 2011|
Despite obvious signs of wear and tear, the briefcase still seemed to be holding itself together. A quite charming briefcase, if you ask me. And, oh, I so wish it could talk!
|Osborne and a new red box in 2012|
I think I am not the only one who prefers the older version. If like me, you prefer the older version and you have an ipad (which I don't), you can even get yourself a 'chancellor of exchequer' ipad cover case. But if you want to take a look at the one and only one you can always go to the Cabinet War Rooms, where it currently lives. The briefcase is now 'protected', but I can't help feeling that both the box and the budget protocol have lost a lot with this measure.