Watch the 2010 Budget Briefing

Highlights of the New Statesman/Weber Shandwick post-Budget event.

On Thursday 25 March, the New Statesman hosted a post-Budget briefing in conjunction with Weber Shandwick.

The debate was chaired by the magazine's editor Jason Cowley and featured on its panel:

  • Rt Hon Liam Byrne, HM Chief Secretary to the Treasury
  • Colin Byrne, CEO UK and Europe, Weber Shandwick
  • James Macintyre, Political Correspondent, The New Statesman

 

Described in the lead article of last week's New Statesman as "an elaborate pause before the storm" this was a politically intriguing Budget and as Liam Byrne confirmed to the audience "the stakes were higher than most others before". He further emphasised the importance of locking in the recovery but admitted that reducing the deficit would require the next government to make painful cuts.

Colin Byrne argued that "cuts in public services will clearly be deferred until after the election" and he urged the audience "not to think of the public and private sector as two separate beasts", adding a warning that if cuts in the public sector are too severe they could endanger the overall economic recovery.

The panel also discussed the way the Chancellor's announcement was covered in the media. The press described it as a "political budget" yet Jason Cowley, NS editor asked the audience to think about a time when Budgets weren't political "as if they should be delivered by some disinterested bureaucrat." James Macintyre gave his assessment on how the story was covered and explored some of the discrepancies between what was contained in the Budget and how it was reported. He argued that the right-wing media and the Tories had decided their response before the Budget was delivered.

Writing in this week's New Statesman, Professor David Blanchflower worried that first quarter output figures may lead to a double dip recession which would be 'damaging for the narrative of the recovery'. Jason Cowley asked Liam Byrne to comment on this before opening questions up to the floor.

A productive question and answer session followed starting with questions from the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development on the government's unemployment forecast. Edge then asked a question on H.E and F.E funding, Centre for Cities on moving civil servants away from London, the National Council for Voluntary Organizations on plans for a social investment bank, and the Money Advice Trust on repossessions.

You can watch Liam Byrne's briefing below. To view the complete event please visit the New Statesman's TV channel.