Another argument between a politician and a newspaper. But this one’s different. The Daily Mail haven’t simply criticised Labour leader, Ed Miliband. They’ve attacked his father – who died almost 20 years ago.
‘The Man Who Hated Britain’ was the headline for the article. Journalist Geoffrey Levy described how Ed Miliband’s father, Ralph, hated Britain and everything it stood for. The campaign against the Miliband family focused on a diary entry written by a 17-year-old Ralph, in which he said that the English were among the ‘most nationalist people in the world.’ Ralph went on to say that ‘you sometimes want them almost to lose [the war].’ The Daily Mail drew Ed in by showing how his father’s Marxist beliefs can be seen in the Labour Party plans – especially Ed’s ‘determination to place the British press under statutory control.’
Many politicians would remain silent when faced with an event like this but Ed Miliband refused. He accused the Mail of writing a complete lie about his father’s views of Britain. Ralph Miliband was a Jewish refugee who escaped the Nazis by coming to Britain. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and ‘owed his life’ to our country, according to Ed. Although Ralph had Left-wing political views, Ed has chosen a different route. The Daily Mail ignored this and attempted to make several links between the views of Ed and his father.
After Ed was given the chance to publish his piece, the Mail wrote an editorial standing by their original article. Images of Ralph Miliband’s gravestone along with the caption ‘grave socialist’ followed. This prompted the mention of the press regulation debate as Ed along with others questioned whether boundaries will have to be set for newspapers.
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was nowhere to be seen so it was down to assistant editor Jon Steafel to appear on Newsnight. He revealed that the picture of Ralph’s grave had been removed after being personally called by Ed and admitted that publishing the image was an ‘error of judgement’. But he continued to defend the article as he said that the paper had done nothing wrong by examining the views of someone that has influenced the leader of a political party. Ed Miliband agreed that it was acceptable to discuss his father’s politics in the media but writing lies and labelling Ralph’s legacy as ‘evil’ was another matter.
Public opinion is something that should be taken into account and most seem to be backing Ed. An image of Daily Mail founder, Lord Rothermere, with Hitler has found its way onto social networks and the public have taken to passing it on and shaming the paper as a hypocrite for calling Ed’s father a supporter of the Marxist ideology that was responsible for ‘an awful lot of terrible things, including millions and millions of deaths.’
Many do not agree with their parent’s views and it is not unusual to choose a different path to that of your family. Ed Miliband’s politics are in the public interest. Some argue that his father’s beliefs are not. It is unclear whether the Daily Mail has gone too far but the publication has brought the debate on the freedom of the press back into the public eye. The future will tell whether the newspaper has helped or hindered the media’s side.