We know that Iain Duncan Smith doesn't like criticism, and it's possible to read this as merely him jumping up and down in a temper. But there's more behind it. First, he "branded the BBC as ridiculous" for its coverage of welfare issues. Then he "savaged" the Guardian for talking only about cuts, and called it a "campaign rag". This is the quote:
'He also tore into Beeb coverage of welfare reform. He said: “It’s easier for them to live with the Guardian than anybody else, that’s to say more money is good, less money is a cut. The word ‘reform’ very rarely passes their lips but the word ‘cuts’ is always in their broadcasts. The phrase ‘bedroom tax’ is a misnomer, it’s a Labour Party name. They never talk about under-occupancy or a spare room subsidy. Evan Davis (presenter of Radio 4’s Today) keeps asking everybody all through the programme, ‘Should Iain Duncan Smith resign?’ What for? Because that’s what the Labour Party was asking for, so he had to repeat it. It’s a joke.”'
Remember that this is a government minister commenting on the free, independent media they're supposedly keen on, and singling out a presenter who is doing his job. But George Osborne also gets in on the act:
'Chancellor George Osborne joined in the assault on the BBC, claiming that ordinary working people’s opinions were being ignored because of “lazy journalism”. He accused the Beeb of relying on comments from pressure groups to fill news bulletins, and said: “I don’t think the voices of working people who pay their taxes for this system are heard often enough. They experience in their daily lives the abuse of that system and I don’t think that is often reported.”'
The Guardian is the only paper (with the occasional exception of the Independent) which prints the stuff which IDS and his bunch would like to hide. And the BBC is vital as our only source of unbiassed reporting on TV and radio. It may not seem unbiassed at times - that's inevitable - but as long as both right and left are complaining, they must be getting it broadly correct.
Now read this from Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home. He's commenting on what IDS and Osborne have said, and it's really sinister.
"The last week has shown what is possible when the Conservative Party gets its act together and acts in concert with the centre right press. The consistency of message may be a first sign that Lynton Crosby is delivering the kind of message discipline that he was recruited for."
Even worse is the suggestion in some of the comments under the piece that the government could put pressure on the BBC by starting a review of the licence fee.
On a day when so many of us have had to switch off all radio and TV to escape wall-to-wall Thatcher (no comments about that, please), and in the wake of the trashing of the Leveson recommendations in the name of freedom of the press, we should remember that it's only a free press and a free BBC which give us the information with which to oppose government - any government. Bloggers and campaign groups can't do it alone.