UK Politics

Ed Miliband and Daily Mail row: Newspaper reaction

Ralph Miliband, newspapers & Ed Miliband
The row surrounding Ed Miliband's father, Ralph (left) has drawn reaction from across the British press

An increasing number of column inches are being dedicated to the row between Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Daily Mail.

Other newspapers have been weighing in to the discussion, which started on Saturday, when a piece written by Geoffrey Levy on Mr Miliband's father, the late Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, carried the headline: "The man who hated Britain".

Mr Miliband subsequently wrote that his father, a Jewish refugee who fled Belgium aged 16 to escape the Nazis, "loved" Britain and had served in the Royal Navy.

The Mail has refused to apologise, fiercely defending its stance in an editorial published on Tuesday.

The Daily Mirror offers its support to the Labour leader, reprinting his rebuttal of the initial piece in full. However, in an editorial, the paper fires a warning shot about press freedom.

"We'll defend both Mr Milibands, father and son. But we urge the Labour leader to defend a free press - including the right of newspapers to publish opinions he disagrees with, and not just those he welcomes."

'Hatchet job'

The Guardian picks up the baton of press freedom, leading its editorial by likening The Mail's attack on Ed Miliband to the one on Sir David Bell, one, Lord Justice Leveson's lay assessors, published last November.

"We share some of the Mail's anxieties about the future shape of press regulation.

"Highly personalised attacks on those involved in searching for the right solution, far less their dead relatives, will win over no friends to the press's side of the argument - quite the opposite.

"The Mail's voice in the debate is important: but reasoned discussion is better than hatchet jobs."

The Guardian also draws attention to the Mail's own "potentially treacherous" stance in years gone by.

"By delving back into the fight against fascism, the Mail inevitably invites consideration of its own record in the 1930s and 40s.

"The first Viscount Rothermere supported Mosley and the Blackshirts in the early 1930s. Later the paper favoured appeasement and tried to subvert the constitution in Edward VIII's favour during the abdication crisis.

"The 1930s were uncertain and difficult times and hard judgment calls were made. It is only with hindsight that it is clear how wrong, even - looking back - how potentially treacherous some of them were."

Personal politics

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Dan Hodges argues if Ed Miliband wanted his father to be off limits, he should have kept him out of any discussion about his own politics.

"Ed Miliband's instinct to defend his father is understandable, and to his credit. But you can't have it both ways.

"If Ed Miliband had wanted to protect his father and his legacy he needed to say from the outset, 'I'm my own man. Judge me on what I think and I say, not what my father did or my father said. It's Ed Miliband standing to be prime minister, not Ralph Miliband.

"He didn't. And once you start making your family party of your own political biography then you are opening the door for these kind of attacks on them, as well as yourself.

"There is only one cast-iron way for politicians to protect their family from criticism. It's not to make them a part of their politics in the first place."