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Is it a *Liberal* budget?

It being Budget Day yesterday in Britain I reached down Joseph Schumpeter’s weighty History of Economic Analysis (1954), which contains a short magnificent ode to Gladstonian finance. William Ewart Gladstone, four times Prime Minister and four times Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1853 and 1894, was a Tory who later became leader of the Liberal Party.

Reading Schumpeter’s praise of Gladstone I could not help wonder whether today's two-year old coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats might surprise the country with unconditional support of the kind of radical retrenchment that Gladstone pursued in 1853, and to which both political parties are rightful heirs.

Wrote Schumpeter:

There was one man who not only united high ability with unparalleled opportunity but also knew how to turn budgets into political triumphs and who stands in history as the greatest English financier of economic liberalism, Gladstone…