The Daily Fail?
The general consensus is that the Daily Mail was wrong to publish the article claiming that Ralph Miliband hated Britain. Putting aside the merits of the article, the outrage which it has generated has shown the Mail at its brilliant best. No other newspaper in the country could provoke such a response from its opponents.
All politicians receive unfair press coverage. Gordon Brown was asked if he took anti-depressants, a large percentage of the media believe that the fact David Cameron went to a good school disqualifies him for being Prime Minister and Nick Clegg’s background was thrown back in his face during the 2010 Election campaign. Ed Miliband is not the first, nor will he be the last, politician who feels aggrieved by coverage of himself or his family. However, the whiny cry baby response was over-the-top, particularly when Ed himself has drawn the public’s attention to his father’s politics. He can hardly then be surprised when the press then write about Ralph Miliband’s beliefs and political convictions. In fairness, it was refreshing to see Ed defend a family member, rather than stabbing them in the back.
What has been interesting is the response which the article generated. Lefties are beside themselves with rage at how such an ignorant, reactionary, immigrant bashing, welfare hating, climate change sceptic, god fearing, fascist rag could publish such a piece (incidentally, these are the same people who organised parties when Thatcher died). Without any sense of irony, Viscount Rothermere (the paper’s proprietor) has been attacked because his grandfather supported the Nazis. Even Alastair Campbell has tried to claim the moral high ground, as he continues his attempts to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the left. That said, as much as the left hate the Mail, they’re not going to forget Iraq and Dr David Kelly anytime soon, Alastair.
I get why people hate the Mail. A lot of its coverage is moronic and it’s read by people who think because Nigel Farage is a jolly good bloke he should run the country. It’s read by people who think we should remove ourselves not just from the European Union but from the continent of Europe, by people who think every “brown” person is here illegally, claiming welfare and is a convicted or potential criminal and by people who think everything from grapefruit to Neil Kinnock carries a risk of cancer. But then, everyone is defined by the newspapers that they read. Guardian readers tend to be smug, faux-academics that recycle everything from bikes to their guacamole. Sun readers read the paper with their arses hanging out, eating their bacon roll whilst listening to talkSPORT believing that Adrian Durham is the fountain of all knowledge.
And yet it is only the Mail which inspires the loathing that it does. An easy solution might be to boycott the Mail, it worked for the Scousers and the Sun. The News of the World shut down when people threatened a boycott. But the reality is that people aren’t interested in ignoring or boycotting the Mail, they want to ban it. They don’t want people believing that the state has too much power, that making a profit is acceptable or that being in work is good for people. Essentially they are advocating censorship. They want to ban any opinion which they disagree with. And that, not the Mail’s article, is the danger here.
I don’t think Ralph Miliband hated Britain. Indeed he fought for Britain in the Second World War and fought evil to protect the very liberties that are being attacked in his name. He fought for freedom of expression and for democracy and whilst he may not have liked the results, he was willing to give his life in order to allow people the right to believe what they want.
I’d much rather read a newspaper which occasionally offends, occasionally oversteps it at the same time as campaigning for justice for Stephen Lawrence and Gary Mckinnon than one which reprints government propaganda and ignores legitimate public interest stories because it might upset Hugh Grant. When the political elite discuss future regulation of the press, they should remember what Ralph Miliband fought for and ignore Alastair Campbell’s utter hypocrisy and manufactured outrage.