I haven't been able to blog for a while. But now, looking over what's been happening, I have to conclude that nothing is changing, except for the worse. Iain Duncan Smith has lost another court battle, this time to keep secret the damaging documents on the mess that is Universal Credit. But it won't make any difference. The ruling will be ignored. The Financial Times devoted an article to Labour's intentions on outsourcing and the Work Programme. They would get rid of the big, centrally organised contracts and devolve the responsibility down to a more local level. This is similar to the system which operated up to 2006. But Rachel Reeves said nothing about payment by results. She did say that outsourcing companies would have to pay their workers more than minimum wage.
Labour has forced a debate in the Commons next Monday on the shambles in the DWP. Expect no Tories except the minister to attend, and certainly expect no coverage at all in the media.
And that brings me to the growing concern about BBC bias. A friend of mine - intelligent, thoughtful, well-informed - was completely unaware that a peaceful demonstration by around 50,000 people against austerity had happened in central London. Like many other people (reportedly a majority) she relies on the BBC for news; and the BBC didn't report it, until very late and then as a tiny item. If there is political bias in the BBC it matters far more than the built-in ideology of the printed media.
It used to be said - and still is by right-wingers - that the BBC is biased towards the left. That can't be sustained any longer. We know that in 2010 Mark Thompson, then head of the BBC, had a meeting with David Cameron in 10 Downing Street and agreed not to attack the new government's approach. Four years on we see Conservatives and their agenda dominating. Remember that the BBC decides what is news. Producers or editors choose what to put in their bulletins, what items to include in politics programmes, who to interview and what approach to take. If they don't report something, most people won't know about it.
In the run-up to the May elections people began to complain about the amount of coverage that UKIP was getting. This apparent determination to promote UKIP was also evident in the aftermath of those elections. Of course, the BBC spokespeople, as well as individual editors, insisted that they had merely given "parity" to the various parties, based on their electoral support. It was nonsense, because it wasn't the issue. UKIP and its policies were being allowed to set the agenda; immigration and Europe dominated. After the elections one would have thought, from the BBC's coverage, that UKIP had beaten Labour, and the Tories hadn't actually taken part.
One could understand, though not excuse, the reluctance of the BBC to cover issues related to the DWP. But this dodging of issues extends across many areas of government business. When did we last hear an analysis of what's going on in the NHS? In Justice? And when did we last hear an opposition spokesperson interviewed with the same respect and deference accorded to the government?
Tory-supporting presenters and interviewers now no longer have to pretend to neutrality. Andrew Neil will tear into Labour MPs, talking over them, sneering at them; the contempt is very obvious. The Tory MPs with whom he dines get a very different treatment. Andrew Marr and John Humphrys are not much better.
Before you say that this has nothing to do with the subject of this blog, think again. If you rely on the BBC for your knowledge of what's going on in this country then you will have a very limited and partial view. You will know nothing about A4e and only a little about the other outsourcing companies. You will not understand the inherent dangers of outsourcing and privatisation. And we will wake up in May 2015 to a majority Conservative government which will complete the flogging-off of all our public services for private profit.