Monday, 20 April 2009

Spare a thought this week ...

... for the political correspondents reporting Darling's eagerly awaited Budget statement on Wednesday.

Ok I know journalists don't come high on people's sympathy lists but when I did this job I used to quake in my boots on Budget day. I think they get a bit more pre-briefing these days - in my time this would have been deemed totally unacceptable - but the fact remains you have only minutes to de-code some of the most complex financial material you have ever heard.

I used to run back and forth to the phone in a state of mild terror. Was that three or six noughts on the PSBR? What IS the PSBR? Etc. Budgets have become less important in recent years - we have pre-budget Statements now too and also a year-round policy of pre-briefing and leaking which takes the oomph out of 'em - but this year is a grand exception after a banking crisis and a recession.

Will Darling fight off the pressure to make eye-catching but essentially irrelevant pre-election gestures with the bad stuff hidden in the Treasury Red Book? Or is he going to rescue his reputation as a nice but essentially weak Chancellor run by his Prime Minister by finally telling us the truth about how tough things are and what needs to be done?

And while we're giving a bit of thought to the journalists trying to work it all out, spare one too for the Leader of the Opposition - the toughest job of his year is standing up to make a credible response while still computing what on earth it all means.

Be ready for Vince Cable later on. Every other party will try to pretend it ain't so, but what the Economic Guru thinks will be a highlight of the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment