Ed Miliband vs Daily Mail: row erupts over father 'smear'
Miliband accuses Mail of 'character assassination' and tasteless puns... but newspaper unapologetic
A ROW has erupted between Ed Miliband and the Daily Mail over an article about the Labour leader's late father. Miliband has accused the newspaper of carrying out a "character assassination" on his father, Ralph, a venerated Marxist academic who died in 1994. But the Mail is far from apologetic...
'The man who hated Britain'
The original article, published in the Daily Mail on Saturday, claims Ralph Miliband hated Britain. It says his beliefs would "disturb everyone who loves this country" and that the Labour leader is "obsessed" with maintaining his father's legacy. Miliband Snr, a Jewish immigrant who fled to London from Belgium in 1940 to escape the Nazis at the age of 16, apparently viewed the Englishman as a "rabid nationalist". The Mail quotes from a diary he wrote as a 17-year-old: "You sometimes want [the English] almost to lose [the war] to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the Continent... To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation."
'Why my father loved Britain'
Ed Miliband responded today with an article of his own, also in the Daily Mail, insisting that his father "loved Britain" and was proud to serve in the Royal Navy for three years. He describes the original article as a "smear" with no credible argument to remotely justify the "lurid" headline. "To ignore his service and work in Britain and build an entire case about him hating our country on an adolescent diary entry is, of course, absurd," he writes. Miliband adds that it is well known that he has pursued a "different path" to his father and says that a fierce debate about politics does not justify a "character assassination" of his father or the publication of a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a "grave socialist". He adds: "The Daily Mail sometimes claims it stands for the best of British values of decency. But something has really gone wrong when it attacks the family of a politician - any politician - in this way."
'An evil legacy and why we won't apologise'
In an editorial today the Mail describes the Labour leader as being "in a strop" and refuses to apologise. "He has stamped his feet and demanded a right of reply," it says, describing Miliband's rebuke as a "tetchy and menacing response". The newspaper claims it "felt a duty" to show readers the vision that inspired the would-be next prime minister. "How can Ralph Miliband's vision be declared out of bounds for public discussion," it asks, "particularly since he spent his entire life attempting to convert the impressionable young to his poisonous creed?"
‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’
Some commentators questioned the wisdom of unearthing the politics of previous generations. John Prescott noted that the Mail itself had skeletons in its closet. “Here's a Daily Mail leader praising fascists written by the great-grandfather of the paper's current owner,” he tweeted. The article features the banner headline: “Hurrah for the Blackshirts, by Viscount Rothermere”