Wednesday, 22 May 2013
"Buggers Briefing against the Conservatives"
In the last few days, BBC certainly lived down to the version of its initials ascribed to Christine Hamilton. Gay marriage, while symbolically important, is not a matter of national well-being like the sluggishness of the economy or the inequities of the benefits system. It does not right a major injustice - that was already done by the Act that introduced civil partnerships - yet it occupied a quarter of Monday's PM programme and has dominated the domestic agenda on the BBC News channel.
Much as I relish the prospect of the Conservative party tearing itself apart over gay rights and EU membership, it is more with a view to future election campaigning than to the here and now. It is not, I respectfully suggest, for the BBC to join in a spectator sport which is not of real interest to 90% of the electorate. There is also the question of balance. If the Beeb genuinely feels that internal party strife is news, then it should also look at the agonies of the Labour party as it tries to reconcile internal differences in the formation of policy, not to mention Nigel Farage's efforts to paste a wallpaper of respectability over the UKIP rubble.
There are more important concerns over the Conservatives' performance in government. For instance, in spite of LibDem ministers' best efforts, disproportionate cuts are being made in the already low benefits paid to the worst-off in society. (I am not referring to the "bedroom tax" and the benefits cap, which are relatively fair and have -surprisingly to some - found favour among those surveyed in some recent opinion research.) I have posted earlier about the below-inflation rises in JSA and some other benefits. Of serious concern also is the implementation of Universal Credit. The concept is welcome, but the level at which it is intended to be paid and the restriction of access to it (only via Internet) are to be deprecated. Shortly, I hope to blog some research which has been carried out in Scotland showing its potential negative impact. The BBC is in a position not only to analyse this and other research, but also to monitor the progress of the pilot UC programme and report on both.