'Looking into the Accounts', 1861
'Looking into the Accounts', 1861. Mr Bull, the representative of the British people, hangs up his coat and hat, ready for a long stint of checking the nation's finances. Mr Gladstone, perched uncomfortably on a high stool, rather like the descriptions of Dickens's Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, with a quill behind his ear, is caught in the act of closing the ledger marked 'Income Tax'. John Bull is encouraging Gladstone to take a short break so he can have a look at the ledger. This relates to a debate in the House of Commons when the Conservative MP for Buckinghamshire proposed a motion for a Select Committee to sit in judgment on Income Tax and assess if it could not be more equitably levied. Gladstone strongly opposed such a suggestion, but eventually the government was defeated by four votes. Punch goes on to say that Mr John Bull, 'like a sensible commercial man, resolves to make his clerk Gladstone take a holiday, and meantime Mr Bull means to examine his books for himself'. From Punch, or the London Charivari, March 2, 1861.
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