If it weren't for the Guardian we would know nothing about the retroactive legislation to save Iain Duncan Smith's face, nor the mealy-mouthed response of Labour. We wouldn't have heard about the argument about sanctions. Today, for instance, we read that the head of Jobcentre Plus, Neil Couling, has sent a letter to staff reminding them that "there are no national targets for applying sanctions and individual targets should not appear in performance agreements." The article says, "Numerous jobcentre staff have contacted the Guardian since last Friday's story on targets for sanctions to claim such targets are part of the jobcentre culture. There may be a dispute about definitions that is fuelling the disjuncture about what is being said at national level, and what is reported at local level."
But we learn that 40-odd Labour MPs had the gumption to vote against the bill – good for them. Labour's line is that they have secured an enquiry into sanctions. Well, unless they ask the people who have been, and are being, affected by these punishments, any enquiry will be at best pointless and at worst a whitewash.
Why are the rest of the media so silent on the issue? I did hear the legislation raised briefly on BBC Radio 4's The Westminster Hour last night, but it was skated over very quickly. The rest of the press has no interest at all. I think it's because it's complicated. The Guardian has a political editor, Patrick Wintour, who knows the subject; and the Guardian is "left wing". Occasionally the Independent publishes a considered story. But that's about it.