We've all been going on about media bias towards the Tories, particularly in the BBC, for ages now. So it was no surprise that when Iain Duncan Smith appeared on Question Time last night there were no questions chosen about any of the "welfare" issues in the news - despite the fact that they also had the shadow minister for "welfare reform". The internet was buzzing with excitement. But no. Iraq, Islam in schools ..... and we waited in vain. The Salma Yaqoob, with whom I had disagreed on everything else, decided to have a go at IDS. He hated it. Chris Bryant joined in, refusing to be shouted down. A middle-aged man in the audience (I can't remember whether this was before or after the spat) told IDS exactly what he thought of him and was cheered. Dimbleby hastened to move on. The cynics among us decided that assurances had been given to IDS that there would no no hard questions for him. But his face, when he found himself under attack, was a sight to behold. He really doesn't like it.
But there has been a small chink in the BBC's protective wall. The appalling delays in processing PIP assessments have been well known for months. Suddenly the media decided it was a story. Mike Penning was on the Daily Politics yesterday, apologising and being very lightly grilled by Andrew Neil. This morning the Today programme took it up. A good journalistic report was aired and then a Labour MP (I'm sorry, I've forgotten her name) commented clearly and ably. No DWP spokesman was available, apparently. But what we didn't get was the background to this debacle; no discussion of the wider implications of outsourcing.
Another issue we wouldn't know about but for the internet is the report that the Trussell Trust had been threatened that the government might try to shut them down because the DWP wanted to discredit them. It was an obscure website, civilsociety, which first reported this. Strangely, I can't now get at the article. But Channel 4 News took it up the following day (see Jackie Long's blog) and today the Independent weighs in, having done some digging. Citing "sources" they say that the man who did the threatening was "Conservative MP Andrew Selous, parliamentary private secretary to Mr Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary." He denies it vehemently, but the Indy is confident enough to do a profile of him. It's an excellent article. But where is it in the rest of the media?
And there's the row about the Oxfam cod film poster. The Daily Mail got outraged about it; but there's been no debate on the BBC, and other papers have ignored it.
Until the mainstream media do their job properly the Tories will continue to get away with murder.