Ed Miliband's bank crusade courts Daily Mail's approval

Jul 10, 2012
Linda Palermo

Editor Paul Dacre falls for another Labour leader – but how long will it last this time?

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IT WOULD be one of the more unlikely political romances in modern times - wonkish north London lefty meets the voice of Middle England - but recent coverage of Ed Miliband in the conservative Daily Mail has been so favourable that political insiders are wondering whether the paper's editor Paul Dacre has – once again - fallen for a Labour leader.

Miliband has made the political running over the last two weeks on the Libor scandal, capturing the public's revulsion - as he did with his stand against News International during last year's hacking outcry - with his calls for a judge-led inquiry and, in his speech yesterday, for wholesale reform of the entire industry.

And his efforts have not gone unnoticed at the Mail. James Forsyth wrote last week that "Miliband's call for [a] banker bonfire of the vanities could be political gold" and praised the Labour leader's audacity in attempting to turn the banking scandal to his party's advantage.

The next day, deputy political editor Tim Shipman explained how Miliband had been setting the political weather: "Labour's leader has undeniably put himself in a position to capitalise on events politically and been flight of foot in taking advantage when opportunities arise.”

Despite caveats that Miliband's instincts are dramatically at odds with those of the general public on most issues, Shipman declared that "his assessment of the problem has been prescient and he has won the right to be heard".

Last Wednesday Miliband will have got a further fillip before the weekly ritual of PMQs when he saw the Mail's editorial talk about his "brave example to the Tories" in calling for a judge-led review. The editorial, which admittedly used the opportunity to kick Labour for previous sins on its watch, wholeheartedly backed Miliband's stance.

"By calling for a full inquiry, no matter how much damage it may do his party, Mr Miliband has stolen a moral march on the Tories, leaving them vulnerable to accusations that they are protecting their powerful plutocratic friends," the paper proclaimed.

Another day, another compliment: Dominic Sandbrook wrote in his Saturday column about how bankers were like the trade unions of 30 years ago. Invoking Margaret Thatcher's slaying of the unions, Sandbrook wrote: "With his call for a thorough inquiry into the ethics of the City, it is Ed Miliband... who seems closer to capturing the Iron Lady's spirit."

Miliband's week was topped off in the Mail on Sunday, whose editor Geordie Greig and political editor Simon Walters interviewed him for a remarkably sympathetic double-page spread.

The hardest questions they bowled at him were about who does the shopping and looks after the bank account in the Milibands' "£1.5m north London house" - it's Justine, by the way - while they allowed Miliband to dismiss David Cameron's political character: "What matters is not stunts, or 'Can I find a husky?' but what is wrong with Britain."

Ed Miliband will be well aware, of course, that this is not the first time Paul Dacre's Mail has courted a Labour leader: Dacre was a fan of the dour Gordon Brown despite their political differences, but dropped him like a hot potato before the 2010 general election, realising he had a “tin ear” for Middle England.

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