Gladstone, William Ewart - Don’t hurt - Telling the truth
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Gladstone’s first budget in 1853 simplified Britain's tariff of duties and customs. 123 duties were abolished and 133 duties were reduced. The objective was to stimulate trade and thereby improve the incomes of all working people – rich or poor.
Letter to Daniel Jones, an unemployed collier who complained of unemployment and of low wages (20 October 1869) as quoted in The Gladstone Diaries: With Cabinet Minutes and Prime-ministerial Correspondence: 1869-June 1871 Vol. 7 (1982) by H. C. G. Matthew, p. lxxiv
The only means which have been placed in my power of "raising the wages of colliers" has been by endeavouring to beat down all those restrictions upon trade which tend to reduce the price to be obtained for the product of their labour, & to lower as much as may be the taxes on the commodities which they may require for use or for consumption.
But in order to pay for Government and these reforms, Gladstone had to reinstate income tax – a tax we now take for granted, but which had legally expired and Gladstone proposed to extend it for seven years to fund his reforms. Of great importance was the fact that he did not attempt to hide this – a policy which potentially was extremely unpopular.
Instead he told the truth, but went to inordinate pains to explain why he was the doing it – the great cause and effect chain he had based his decision on and all the logic that went behind it.
His first budget speech delivered on 18 April in 1853, at nearly five hours length, raised Gladstone "at once to the front rank of financiers as of orators".
H. C. G. Matthew has written that Gladstone
"made finance and figures exciting, and succeeded in constructing budget speeches epic in form and performance, often with lyrical interludes to vary the tension in the Commons as the careful exposition of figures and argument was brought to a climax".
The contemporary diarist Charles Greville wrote of Gladstone's speech:
... by universal consent it was one of the grandest displays and most able financial statement that ever was heard in the House of Commons; a great scheme, boldly, skilfully, and honestly devised, disdaining popular clamour and pressure from without, and the execution of it absolute perfection. Even those who do not admire the Budget, or who are injured by it, admit the merit of the performance. It has raised Gladstone to a great political elevation, and, what is of far greater consequence than the measure itself, has given the country assurance of a man equal to great political necessities, and fit to lead parties and direct governments.
At the beginning of 1859, there were 419 duties in existence. The 1860 budget further reduced the number of duties to 48, with 15 duties constituting the majority of the revenue. To finance these reductions in indirect taxation, the income tax, instead of being abolished, was raised to 10d. for incomes above £150 and at 7d. for incomes above £100.