But what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday was of a different order all together. I know they say ‘you can’t libel the dead’ but you can smear them.
Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in the Second World War, or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a ‘grave socialist’.
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. It would be true of an attack on the father of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, or mine.
There was a time when politicians stayed silent if this kind of thing happened, in the hope that it wouldn’t happen again. And fear that if they spoke out, it would make things worse. I will not do that. The stakes are too high for our country for politics to be conducted in this way. We owe it to Britain to have a debate which reflects the values of how we want the country run.
But the Mail isn’t letting this lie – Geoffrey Levy has published a new article (almost identical to the old one) in which he repeats his accusations. One of the few new points he makes is a response to Ed’s observation that his father felt warmly towards the Royal Navy:
Ed Miliband says that his father ‘loved how the Navy brought together people from all classes and all backgrounds’.
Miliband Snr’s own words suggest something rather more. According to his official biographer, Michael Newman, he was preoccupied with ‘class’ and furious at the different quality of life aboard Royal Navy ships between officers and the men, angrily describing it as like the difference between ‘a 300-bedroom country house and a Lambeth slum’.
As Newman puts it: ‘Miliband saw it as the negation of elementary democracy based on the assumption that officers were “gentlemen” while those on the Lower deck were part of the “swinish multitude”
Levy implies that those who want to change Britain don’t love it, or that only Britons born in Britain have a right to suggest things might be done differently. But views like those described here:
In a letter to his old friend, the Left-winger C Wright Mills, Miliband made plain his disdain for the Establishment which was, to his mind, nothing less than the old boy network.
This included, he wrote: ‘Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge, the great Clubs, the Times, the Church, the Army, the respectable Sunday papers . . . It also means the values . . . of the ruling orders, keep the workers in their place, strengthen the House of Lords, maintain social hierarchies, God save the Queen, equality is bunk, democracy is dangerous, etc.
have been shared by many British people on the left. Even though Levy’s article didn’t of course directly target Miliband for being an immigrant the ‘man who hated Britain’ jibe resonates differently because he was one and thus (at least potentially) has a dog whistle effect.
The Mail’s editorial is even more splenetic than Levy himself:
We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons. But when a son with prime ministerial ambitions swallows his father’s teachings, as the younger Miliband appears to have done, the case is different.
How can Ralph Miliband’s vision be declared out of bounds for public discussion — particularly since he spent his entire life attempting to convert the impressionable young to his poisonous creed?
Indeed, his son’s own Marxist values can be seen all too clearly in his plans for state seizures of private land held by builders and for fixing energy prices by government diktat.
More chillingly, the father’s disdain for freedom of expression can be seen in his son’s determination to place the British Press under statutory control.
Next week the Privy Council, itself an arm of the state, will meet to discuss plans — following a stitch-up with Hacked Off over late-night pizzas in Mr Miliband’s office — for what will ultimately be a politically controlled body to oversee what papers are allowed to publish.
Put to one side that Mr Miliband’s close involvement with degenerates such as Damian McBride gives him scant right to claim the moral high ground on anything.
If he crushes the freedom of the Press, no doubt his father will be proud of him from beyond the grave, where he lies 12 yards from the remains of Karl Marx.
But he will have driven a hammer and sickle through the heart of the nation so many of us genuinely love.
In attacking Miliband’s father, using his views and connections to insinuate alarmist warnings about Labour, the Daily Mail shows itself lacking in one of the most important perceived British qualities – a sense of fair play.
Alan A adds:
Here’s a comment from the Daily Mail:
Gene adds: See also Norm Geras on Ralph Miliband.