The Anonymous Widower

Ed Milliband and the Daily Mail

We all have skeletons in our families.  Mine is my uncle, who was one for the ladies and was always in trouble. During the Second World War, he actually had a bigamous marriage, from which there were children.

My father’s political leanings were very much Tory, but to the left of the party. He would probably have views like Kenneth Clarke today. But my father was a passionate anti-fascist, probably because of his partly Jewish ancestry. He was also one of the most non-racist men I have met of his generation. I can’t remember too well, but I don’t think he liked dictators and as he had names for them all in his Cockney poetry.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a man of my age, who said that his father was a died in the wool communist, who never condemned Stalin till the day he died.  He joked about it, but I suspect that was because he was rather embarrassed by his father supporting Stalin.  Alexei Sayle joked about his parents hard-line communism on The One Show last night.

I would suspect that the Milliband brothers, are in some ways embarrassed by some of the views of their father.  Most of us have a similar view about our own father, although, I don’t think I ever heard mine, pontificate on anything controversial in a way, that we would find politically incorrect.  Some of my mother’s views were not so acceptable?

All politicians live in glass houses, with everything they do, don’t do or have done under the greatest scrutiny. And all of their ancestors come under close scrutiny.

Just as the political views of Denis Thatcher,  Alfred Roberts, Tony Booth and other related to previous Prime Ministers, have been important to the Press and the scandal-loving British public, Ralph Milliband‘s political views would come under scrutiny from a paper like the Mail, the Express or the Sun. Especially, as some on the left have hard left views very unacceptable to those in the Labour Party, who want to bring it into the twenty-first century.

So in my view the Milliband brothers should have clean about the more unacceptable views of their father years ago, and perhaps joked about it in a more sympathetic medium, as Alexei Sayle and others have done. I don’t have this problem with my father, but anyway, I’m not a politician and my father wasn’t either, so it’s not important.

Now that the Daily Mail has attacked Ed Milliband for his father’s views, the story is out in the open. The Mail’s behaviour since has been unacceptable, but Ed Milliband’s keeping it going is in many ways making it worse. I haven’t seen any comments from his brother.  But then David’s in the United States, where communist connections bring a different reaction.

After all, everybody in the country now knows the full story of Ralph Milliband and it will play a large part in the next General Election. Those to the right will play the Reds under the bed card and those on the hard left will play their Class War one.

In my view though, Ed Milliband has shown a lack of judgement in how he handled his father’s views. Compare it with the way Tony Blair handled those of his father.

Today there is this report on the BBC entitled Ed Miliband urges Daily Mail owner to examine ‘culture’.

It’s not the culture of the Press that needs examining, it’s the culture of the country, where most people seem to value celebrity tittle-tattle well above real issues. Just look at the sales of celebrity magazines!

Ed Milliband is now on BBC Breakfast going on about it again.

Does he not know, when it is time to stop fanning the flames of an out-of-control fire?

October 4, 2013 - Posted by | World | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I agree with so much of your reasoning, but I think your conclusion unfair.

    There was nothing for David and Ed to come clean about: their father was a prominent Marxist academic. His views were public throughout. There’ve also been several books (this article by the author of the one which sparked the Daily Mail’s pieces is particularly instructive: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/oct/01/daily-mail-distorted-book-ralph-miliband).

    As such, the real issue is that the Daily Mail ran the headline “Miliband’s Father Hated Britain” based on the diary entry of a 16 year old who’d just arrived here in turmoil, fleeing from the Nazis on the last boat from Ostend. It’s clear that he had much more nuanced views then (not that it matters at that age) and that as he aged he certainly loved much about Britain. As well as fighting for Britain the moment he was allowed.

    In terms of Ed fanning the flames – good on him for taking on these bile-peddlers. The bullying nature of our more aggressive, truth-bending, reputation-destroying tabloids needs reforming – and most politicians don’t have the balls for it. The Mail is influential and its lies and distortions have real consequences for many people, and for the political discourse of our nation.

    I think Ed’s words to Lord Rothermere: “You should reflect on the culture of your newspapers” are absolutely right.

    Comment by Greg | October 4, 2013 | Reply

    • I don’t buy the Mail although I sometimes use it as a reference for things that I post here. In fact the only papers I don’t use are those owned by Dermot Desmond, as they don’t allow you to access their web site without giving you a pop up advert. I generally don’t link to The Times or The Sunday Times, as you need a subscription to view them.

      The trouble wit the tabloid press is that it is more interested in selling papers and therefore often has political scandals and celebrity stories all over the place. I’d be interested to see the sales figures for the Telegraph, when they were publishing the MPs expenses.

      As I said in the main post, it is not the culture of Lord Rothermere’s papers, but the culture of the great British public.

      In some ways taking on the tabloids is a mistake, as much of that public will say it doesn’t show him in a good light. As John Major found out, you take on the Press at your own risk.

      Comment by AnonW | October 4, 2013 | Reply


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