Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Ed Miliband. I think that he is far too timid in his opposition to the Tories. I wish he would dispense with Liam Byrne’s services and adopt a stridently anti Tory agenda, but he won’t. Miliband is a rather moderate politician.
On a bad day I can be terribly cynical, but even I was astonished at the Daily Mail’s attack on Ralph Milliband.
Emily Maitlis is particularly great on Newsnight in examining the malicious, ill informed and scurrilous character assassination of Ralph Miliband, and by inference his son, Ed.
The Hacked Off campaign is good, if too brief.
Michael Newman hits the nail on the head:
“But, of course, Levy’s real target is not Ralph Miliband at all, but Ed, whom he accuses of being determined to bring about his father’s vision. Apart from being absurd, this is also ironic for, ever since my biography was published, I have constantly been asked to explain how both of Ralph’s sons became politicians in a party that he had often regarded as a barrier to the attainment of socialism. “[My emphasis.]
Even Lord Heseltine, who served under Thatcher, knows that the Daily Mail has crossed a line:
“Heseltine told The Daily Politics on BBC2: “This is carrying politics to an extent that is just demeaning, frankly. The headline isn’t justified. It is completely out of context. As everybody knows the guy fought for this country and we now live in a totally different world to the clash between communism and fascism.”
Just a simple reminder of who the Daily Mail boss, Viscount Rothermere, liked. He is the man in the middle.
This is what Rothermere wrote in September 1933:
“It is Germany’s good fortune to have found a leader who can combine for the public good all the most
vigorous elements in the country. President von Hindenburg and the Crown Prince form, with Herr Hitler, the keystone of the national structure.
The world’s greatest need today is realism. Hitler is a realist. He has saved his country from the ineffectual leadership of hesitating, half-hearted politicians. He has infused into its national life the conquerable spirit of triumphant youth.”
So when faced with the evil that Hitler represented, what did the Daily Mail proprietor, Rothermere do?
He applauded it.
Update 1: Daily Mail widens attack on Ed Miliband.
Update 2: Stephen Fry gives his tuppence worth:
“But there’s form here. The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything – large and small – from Picasso to equal pay for women. Because it has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality). Of course they’ll leap on a Stephen Lawrence bandwagon once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown, but deep down they have always come from the same place and had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.
Most notoriously of all, they loved Adolf Hitler when he came to power, and as the Czech crisis arose they were the appeasement newspaper. And woe-betide any liberal-minded anti-fascist who warned that the man was unstable and that consistently satisfying his vanity, greed and ambition was only storing up trouble. The whole liberal left, not to mention Winston Churchill, were mocked and scorned for their instinctive distrust of Hitler. The Daily Mail knew better.” [My emphasis.]
Update 3: This Buzzfeed is superb. The Best Of The Internet Vs. The Daily Mail.
Update 4: Where is Paul Dacre? is funny.
Update 5: Channel 4 on The mythical power of the Daily Mail.
Update 6: The Indy, Ed Miliband warns Daily Mail over ‘gutter’ campaign against him
Update 7: Shock, a Tory Minister defends the gutter press, Gove defends newspapers’ ‘right to offend’ in Miliband row.
Update 9: I thought this was lucid:
“Graham Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham north, who studied under Miliband at Leeds University in the 1970s, said: “He was an intellectual giant and as a postgraduate student doing an MA at Leeds University it was nothing but an absolute privilege to be in the same room as him. He was one of those guys who you felt as if you had stuck your three fingers in an electric socket after spending an hour with him – it was exhausting and exhilarating.
“In terms of patriotism it is interesting that the guy who was under fire for three years in the second world war after fleeing the Nazis is being accused of being unpatriotic by a newspaper whose owner dined with Hitler and Mussolini and which put the headline Hurray for the Blackshirts [on a leader] in the 1930s. I think people can draw their own conclusions about that.” [My emphasis.]
Update 10: Daniel Trilling is characteristically thoughtful, The Mail on Miliband: What does it mean to call a Jewish person “un-British”?
Update 11: Shockingly, I have never read him, but I might, Ralph Miliband: six key ideas from his books.
Update 12: Good interview, I had to defend my dad – they crossed the line by publishing a picture of his gravestone, says Ed Miliband.
Update 14: The Political Scrapbook is amusing, Did a Tory peer help Daily Mail editor’s father dodge the draft? and At least someone supported the Daily Mail today … Nick Griffin!
Update 15: Amazing, but true. Thatcher ally accuses Daily Mail of ‘telling lies’ about Ralph Miliband.
Update 16: Roy Greenslade says:
“In reality, it means Dacre has total control of the content of the Mail. He can exercise his press freedom, revelling in the power and influence it gives him for good or ill.
In Dacre’s case, the political is the personal. One of his former leader writers told me how, when dictating his ideas for an editorial, he was so wound up that he occasionally broke into tears.
Overall, however, the Mail is Dacre, and Dacre is the Mail. His politics and social outlook – a reactionary, individualistic, big ‘C’ Conservativism – reigns. “
Update 17: Letters, Ed Miliband was right to take on the Daily Mail.
Update 18: Ralph Miliband’s real views, against Soviet repression.
Update 19: Norm’s In praise of Ralph Miliband.
Update 20: A platter of links. Roy Greenslade on Now Paul Dacre is the story as Miliband emerges with enhanced image. Ed Miliband letter to Lord Rothermere. Mail on Sunday apologises to Miliband after reporter turns up at memorial. The JC’s tepid rebuke, Daily Mail should be ashamed for its vicious slur on Ralph Miliband.
“But the idea that being a Marxist, whether consciously or unconsciously, makes you a de facto traitor is both absurd and outrageous. No one at Clements’s table supported the Soviet version of Marxism, and Ralph Miliband was the most eloquent among us in denouncing it as a distortion of true Marxist teaching. He believed passionately in the good old British values of tolerance and generosity, from which he had benefited.
Yet those, of course, are precisely the values that the Daily Mail rejects, not only in the case of Ralph and Ed Miliband, but in its overall coverage. Its aim is a strange one: each morning it wants to enrage its readers about some feature of contemporary British life, such as a judge being over-lenient with a criminal, a hospital messing up an operation, or too many crooked Romanians getting through our borders.
The message is: there you are, that’s what Britain is like these days, isn’t it awful? So we can deduce that the Britain the Daily Mail is loyal to is not contemporary Britain but a legendary Britain of some golden age in the distant past, when everything was shipshape and Bristol fashion and Oswald Mosley was firmly in charge. If anyone hates contemporary Britain, it is the Daily Mail.” [My emphasis.]
Update 23: Jonathan Freedland, characteristically, looks deeper:
” So it has been this week with the Daily Mail’s sustained assault on the late Ralph Miliband, the Marxist scholar it branded “The Man Who Hated Britain”. Some detect a whiff of anti-Jewish prejudice, some swear there is no such thing. When pressed on the point by the BBC, Ed Miliband himself declined to add antisemitism to his list of charges against the paper.
All of which, I imagine, must make it hard for the open-minded outsider, the non-Jew keen to oppose all forms of racism. They know they’re against antisemitism, but how exactly to spot it? When is the line crossed? Where, in fact, is the line? In the spirit of public service, let me attempt an answer.”