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Julian Worricker Julian Worricker | 17:00 PM, Wednesday, 30 June 2010

budget-box-for-blog.jpgIt struck me last week - when I was presenting last Tuesday's outside broadcast during the Budget speech from Gateshead - and again yesterday during 'Call You & Yours' that we're in one of those rare periods when people are both more engaged with the political discourse and more prepared to think the unthinkable. And then express the unthinkable.

In Gateshead, on a beautiful morning overlooking the banks of the River Tyne, I and my colleague, Sally, ventured out with a tape-recorder to - as we say in the trade - 'do a vox-pop'. In other words stop people in the street, interrupt them when they'd rather be left alone, and elicit their views on the burning issue of the day.

Usually I avoid doing these if at all possible. I don't enjoy butting in on people's days any more than they enjoy being on the receiving end of my pleading, but on this occasion it was a strangely enjoyable experience. Yes, it was a warm, sunny morning, which makes people naturally more accommodating when a strange man approaches them with a microphone, but people also wanted to talk. Even when I mentioned the Budget. This was a political event that people were interested in, and although they knew bad news was coming their way, they still wanted to discuss it. I can't think of a Budget that's had that effect on the British public for many a year.

As for expressing the unthinkable, that's what seems to be happening now that the Budget measures have been announced. A government is in place that is causing us to ask 'do we really need this organisation or that body or that amount of spending?' The answer may be yes or no, but there's something quite refreshing about the fact that the debate is happening at all. Only yesterday on 'Call You & Yours, as we examined the future of the housing market, a caller argued the case in favour of reducing the housing benefit budget. This wasn't an argument I'd heard for a good while, and because he held a strong view in one direction he quickly provoked equally strong views the other way.

Our job on You & Yours is to make sure that we properly scrutinise the effects all these changes in taxes and benefits are going to have on people currently dependent on them. If we don't, I'm sure you'll let us know.

Julian Worricker presents You and Yours on BBC Radio 4

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