The Daily Mail and the leader of the Labour Party have got into a spectacular argument over an article that attacked Ed Miliband’s deceased father, describing him as “the man who hated Britain”. This new low by the Mail should offend all fair-minded people.
Ralph Miliband arrived in Britain as a 16-year-old Jewish refugee from Belgium, escaping Nazi Europe. A few years later he was fighting as a volunteer in the Royal Navy, defending our nation from that evil and existential threat. An openly passionate Marxist and intellectual, he was critical of Britain’s establishment and the rigid class system of the time. He was hostile to what he saw as our overt nationalism.
None of these views constitute hatred of Britain. The best kind of friend is not someone who slavishly applauds the status quo, but one who challenges us and our thinking. Disliking unelected leaders, birth right based social status and extreme nationalism comes with the territory for someone escaping the Nazis, who represented all of those things.
The post-war nationalisation of industry, the creation of the welfare state safety net, education-for-all and an NHS, free at the point of delivery, all reflected Miliband Sr’s professed view and the consensus of the time. Many negative aspects of our rigid class structure have broken down over time; many still remain.
The entire Daily Mail piece hangs on a single diary entry of a traumatised 17-year old. Miliband Sr may have known of, or suspected, many of Britain’s upper class flirtation with fascism. He may have known of the Daily Mail’s ‘Hurrah for the blackshirts’ front page, and it’s previous owner’s effusive praise of Hitler. Praise that was reciprocated by Joseph Goebbels.
When Ed Miliband demanded and got a right to reply, rather than accept the response neutrally, the newspaper doubled down on its attack, repeating the slurs and refusing to apologise for what it had written. It has clearly misjudged the instincts of its own readers and the fair play character of our nation. As the highest rated commenter on last night’s dailymail.co.uk article wrote, “For goodness sake DM, you’re in a hole – stop digging and apologise.”
What should offend decent people most about the Daily Mail article, is not just that it attacks someone who fought for our country and made a significant contribution to academia (albeit a left-wing perspective), but that this morally outraged yet soft porn pedalling newspaper has hated Britain itself for decades.
According the Mail’s apparent worldview, our children are layabouts, out of control thugs or rampantly sexual; young women are sluts (but this needs to be graphically illustrated on the right-hand sidebar of shame online, in as little clothing as possible); all asylum seekers are scroungers, whatever persecution they are fleeing from; the poor are universally work shy; the NHS is an abject failure (despite being one of the best in the world); and our schools and hardworking teachers part of a failing education system (despite being one of the best in the world). They have even attacked the monarchy, particularly during the Diana-Charles era.
Alongside the Murdoch press, no organisation or individual has hated Britain more than the Daily Mail Group and its editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre. They have corrupted our national debate, hacked our phones and computers, harassed victims of crime, back pseudo-science, spread disinformation about everything and provided a platform to hate speech commentators. It you are black, Muslim, gay, or a little different, the Mail hates you.
All the Daily Mail sees is national decline and moral crises, enveloped in outrage, hate and fear. That it has contributed so much to that outrage, hate and fear escapes it entirely. It does not love this country; it is one of a number of newspapers that hates Britain. For his part, Ralph Miliband actually fought to defend this country, which is more than you could ever say for any of our national newspapers’ current proprietors and editors.
The Daily Mail’s owner loves this country so much he has retained the non-domicile status of his father, just so he doesn’t pay too much tax to the country he ostensibly calls home. News Group Newspapers’ owner (Sun and Times) loved his own country so much he renounced his Australian citizenship so he could become a US citizen and own media in that country.
All of this noise precedes the meeting of the Privy Council to discuss press regulation. The Daily Mail is incandescent that the freedom it has abused for so long might be curtailed in anyway. We share many of its fears, but also think that press regulation has failed to protect the weak and innocent for too long. It can no longer self-regulate. The Daily Mail’s behaviour in this Ralph Miliband article makes the case for independent regulation even more compelling.
Alternatively, we could demand the same conditions as the US. If you wish to own a large private media company in this country you need to be a British taxpayer and resident, even citizen. Large shareholders in listed media companies should be similarly drawn from the pool of British taxpayers and residents. We might then get less of this disgraceful anti-British smearing.
Ed Miliband is right to defend his father. David Cameron would be. Nick Clegg would be. Natalie Bennett would be. Nigel Farage would be. Even Nick Griffin would be.
The political views of your parents or grandparents often do not reflect your own. Otherwise Viscount Rothermere is a Nazi sympathiser and apologist. I’ve met Jonathan Harmsworth (the current Viscount) and his deceased father, and they’re neither sympathisers and apologists.
Attacking someone’s dead father for their views is a new low in newspapers. Smearing them with blatant lies more so. The Miliband family has our sympathy and support in challenging the Mail on this.
Stephen Fry’s analysis of the Daily Mail regime puts it more eloquently than anyone: “The only good thing to be said about [the] Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it.”
Sign Ed Miliband’s petition, ‘Speak up for decency in British politics’, here.
Comedians get serious about British media
A free press would be a good idea
Freedom of expression is not the same as a freedom to mislead
Defenders of a free press are being dishonest
A short history of trying to regulate an irreverent, unruly and opinionated press
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