Ralph Miliband row: Labour wants apology for Mail 'error'
Tabloid admits it was wrong to use photo of grave but renews attack on 'man who hated Britain'
LABOUR has demanded an apology from the Daily Mail after it admitted part of an article describing Ed Miliband's dead father as a man who "hated Britain" was an "error of judgement".
The paper's deputy editor John Steafel told the BBC's Newsnight programme last night that the decision to run a picture of Ralph Miliband's grave with the caption a "grave socialist" was "an error of judgement". The picture was removed from the Mail's website after Steafel received a phone call from the Labour leader, he said.
But under fierce questioning from Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, Steafel refused to back down on the article's central claim that Ralph Miliband "hated Britain". He insisted it was "reasonable" to highlight the Marxist academic's views because of their influence on his son.
"So if you are to understand Ed Miliband... you need to understand the values that shaped him," Steafel said. "If you take those things together and you combine them with an espousing of a Marxist ideology, that in our view represented someone who hated British values."
Campbell was unsparing in his attack on the Daily Mail and its editor, Paul Dacre, who he described as a "bully and a coward". He said the paper represented "the worst of British values posing as the best" and condemned Dacre for not appearing on Newsnight in person.
"If you do not conform to Paul Dacre's narrow twisted view of the world, as all of his employees like John Steafel have to do, you get done in," Campbell said.
The Mail returned to the fray this morning by devoting four pages to the ongoing row and including an abridged version of its editorial from the previous day in which it defends its attack on Ralph Miliband. The paper admits that the Labour leader had "struck a chord" with many of its readers by springing to his father's defence, but said Ralph's influence over his son's politics made him a legitimate target for scrutiny.
"If the man who hopes to be Prime Minister says his father's outlook helped shape his politics, how can his father's life and work be declared beyond the pale of legitimate journalistic inquiry?" the editorial says.
The Daily Mail also published a summary of its readers' responses to the row and an article by Michael Burleigh headlined: "Stalin's gulags and his Left wing British apologists". Burleigh does not describe Ralph Miliband as an apologist, but says he was friends with the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm who was.
Later in his article Burleigh adds the caveat: "It must be stressed that Ralph Miliband never agreed with Hobsbawm over the latter's refusal to condemn Stalinism's 30 million dead, or the Soviet invasion of Hungary." ·