Daily Mail's position on Miliband unravelling - Labour

The Daily Mail's Alex Brummer: "I hear from the editors each day that they make sure that stories are obtained in the proper way"

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Labour has said the Daily Mail's stance is unravelling after a top journalist said an article about Ed Miliband's father was "wrongly labelled".

Alex Brummer, the Mail's City editor, told Channel 4 News it should have been made clearer it was a comment article.

The paper has refused to apologise for a piece calling Marxist academic Ralph Miliband "The man who hated Britain" - and said its position had not changed.

A Labour spokesman said the Daily Mail's defence was "crumbling".

'Made clear'

Mr Brummer's comments are the first time anyone from the Mail has suggested there might be a problem with the article.

He said: "Sometimes articles which are comment should be labelled and made clear that they are comment.

"So perhaps it should have said 'comment' on it to make clear absolutely it was comment instead of a special report.

"But I think people understood that it wasn't just reporting; there was an element of commentary to it. Just maybe the labelling wasn't quite what it should have been."

Ed Miliband: "They need to take a long hard look at the culture and practices"

Labour said it showed that the Mail's strategy was unravelling piece by piece.

"Six days on from their original article, the Daily Mail's defence is crumbling," said the spokesman.

"For the first time, they have been forced to admit significant problems in the way they dealt with the article 'The man who hated Britain'.

"They should now finally have the good grace and decency to acknowledge their grotesque error of judgment and apologise."

Memorial service

Earlier Mr Brummer told the BBC the Daily Mail would not say sorry to the Labour leader - and said the paper was owed an apology over claims that its Ralph Miliband articles were motivated by anti-Semitism.

Mr Miliband sought to distance himself from the anti-Semitism claims.

But he renewed his demand for the paper's owner Lord Rothermere to investigate its culture and practices.

Lord Rothermere has apologised to Mr Miliband for a Mail on Sunday reporter intruding on a family memorial service.

But he stopped short of saying sorry for the Ralph Miliband article or agreeing to a wider inquiry into the way his newspapers operate.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Brummer strongly defended the Daily Mail's original article which questioned how far Ralph Miliband's left-wing views had influenced his son.

He said: "I don't think we need to apologise for anything. This was a piece which examined somebody's views very carefully."

He hit out at suggestions from the Jewish Chronicle, some Labour figures and others that there may have been "a whiff of anti-Semitism" about the coverage.

"I think there are people out there who need to apologise to us because there have been vicious accusations in the last couple of days, from (former Labour leader) Neil Kinnock among others, that somehow this was an anti-Semitic attack," he said.

Crossing a line

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 5Live he was not suggesting the paper was anti-Semitic.

Who is Lord Rothermere?

  • The 4th Viscount Rothermere - or Jonathan Harmsworth - inherited Associated Newspapers (now DMG Media) when his father Vere died in 1998
  • He became the fourth Rothermere to take the title and become chairman of the media group
  • He was previously managing editor of the Evening Standard, which the Rothermeres bought in 1980
  • Lord Rothermere is ranked 120th on the Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £720m
  • The Harmsworth brothers Alfred and Harold founded the Daily Mail in 1896 - the "Viscount Rothermere" title was created for Harold Harmsworth in 1919

Profile: Lord Rothermere

"I'm always incredibly careful about throwing around the idea that the paper or somebody is anti-Semitic or racist unless there is real evidence for that," he said.

"I don't believe that of the Mail; that's not been my issue."

He said that while the newspaper was entitled to hold him to account for his views, the way it had attacked his father was unacceptable.

"They'll criticise me, they'll say my policies are wrong, that's absolutely fine. But when it comes to my dad, and saying my dad hated Britain, I'm afraid they're crossing a line," he said.

"In all of this, they've never apologised for the fact they said my dad hated Britain - an idea without any foundation."

While acknowledging the Daily Mail - which has a circulation of more than 1.8 million - was a "popular" newspaper, he suggested many of its readers agreed with him that it had "overstepped the mark".

Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig said a reporter had been sent to a memorial service for Mr Miliband's uncle without his knowledge and an investigation was being held into "a decision which was wrong".

Mr Miliband told 5Live he had met the Daily Mail's editor Paul Dacre "two or three times" since becoming Labour leader.

Crucial meeting

Mr Brummer defended the Mail's journalistic methods, saying it was "extraordinarily careful" about how it pursued a story.

George Jones George Jones was part of Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry team into press practices

He said: "I hear the editor, I hear the deputy editor almost every day saying to reporters, saying to editors of their sections 'be careful how you go about getting a particular story'.

"That's a practice which goes to the core of the paper, and I do think there are some good ethical roots in the paper and this is the exception rather than the rule."

The row comes ahead of a crucial meeting of MPs next Wednesday on press regulation.

They will consider rival proposals for a new regulator to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

Mr Miliband, along with the three main political parties and press intrusion victims campaign group Hacked Off, supports a form of press regulation backed by royal charter.

The newspaper industry, among them the country's largest newspaper groups, including Mail publisher DMG Media, News UK, owner of the Sun and the Times, Telegraph Media Group and Trinity Mirror, have put forward a rival plan rejecting "state-sponsored regulation".

A member of Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry team into press practices expressed concern that Mr Miliband's row with the Mail could be used as "a cudgel to try to beat the press" and push through tighter regulation.

Former Daily Telegraph political editor George Jones said: "We were quite clear in those discussions that we did not want to get into the question of taste, we didn't want to be arbiters of what was in good taste and what was in bad taste.

"In my view, once you go down that road you do seriously compromise freedom of speech."

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    • Ed Miliband attacks David Cameron over his record on immigration at PMQs - the latter lists his other achievements in office, but admits that immigration from within the EU has risen.
    • The Labour leader also asks the PM to say if he will take part in a head-to-head TV election debate. Mr Cameron says "we're having a debate now" and in terms of the TV events, he wants to "get on with the debates before the election campaign"
    • Nigel Farage has given a big speech outlining his desire to return immigration to "normal" levels, with between 20,000 and 50,000 migrants given work permits each year.
    • But the UKIP leader has spent much of the morning insisting he hasn't performed a U-turn on the issue of whether he's setting a formal immigration cap. His spokesman Steven Woolfe said last week he wanted a cap of 50,000, but Mr Farage says he - and the public - have "had enough of caps and targets".
    • Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell has paid £80,000 in damages to Pc Toby Rowland, the office at the centre of the plebgate row
    • The Liberal Democrats' manifesto will include a pledge to hand drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health, Nick Clegg is to say.
     
  61.  
    12:56: Migration target Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Labour's Hilary Benn says it was unwise of the prime minister to make the promise on net migration, and criticises Ms Perry for trying to "blame everyone else". Asked what Labour's plan is, he says the party would have a "fair" immigration policy that requires migrants to the UK to contribute. "That's what we're doing," Ms Perry intervenes.

     
  62.  
    12:55: Jobs factory Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Over to the MPs panel now, and transport minister Claire Perry concedes that the government had not met the target. But she says that no-one could have predicted the UK would become the "jobs factory of Europe", which is why migration to the UK has increased, she adds. Ms Perry stresses the government's "commitment" to bringing down immigration.

     
  63.  
    12:51: Miliband's tactics Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The Guardian's Nick Watt predicts that Ed Miliband will not want to define his election campaign on immigration, but rather on the cost of living. "But for today's purposes he felt he had a clear way of getting a clear win on immigration, and clearly the prime minister was uneasy," he adds.

     
  64.  
    12:49: PMQs analysis Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Let's go back to the Daily Politics for a moment, where we're getting some reaction to PMQs. Guardian commentator Nick Watt says the PM clearly knew what was coming on immigration. He knew that Ed Miliband would mention David Cameron's pre-election "contract with Britain", and so had a copy to hand to reel off commitments that had been met, he added.

     
  65.  
    12:44: Coming up in the Commons House of Commons Parliament

    That brings an end to this week's Prime Minister's Questions and in a short while MPs will turn their attention to the Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill, which is going through its final stages in the Commons.

     
  66.  
    12:40: Hospital failures

    Labour MP John Woodcock raised a question, before the session ended, on Furness General Hospital, after an investigation rules that a "lethal mix" of failures led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother. David Cameron says it is a "very important report", adding that the government wanted to see many of its recommendations implemented. Where there are problems in the NHS it is important not to sweep them under the carpet but be open and honest about them, he says, adding that his heart goes out to all those whose children died at the hospital.

     
  67.  
    12:39: Pic: Cameron, Clegg and Hague
    David Cameron, Nick Clegg and William Hague
     
  68.  
    12:35: Energy prices

    Labour MP Iain Mckenzie's attempt to attack David Cameron over the government's energy reforms backfires slightly, as the PM uses it as an opportunity to go on an attack of his own, by making fun of Labour's "price freeze" which he said would increase consumers' bills as energy costs have fallen.

     
  69.  
    12:33: Nursery first aid

    Lib Dem MP Mark Hunter asks the prime minister if he supports a campaign to ensure that all nursery staff are qualified in paediatric first aid, and if so, if he will seek to hurry up a government review on the matter. David Cameron says it makes sense for as many people as possible to have that sort of training, and promises to speak to the relevant minister in charge of the review.

     
  70.  
    12:32: Child protection

    Labour MP Meg Munn says it is time to make child protection "much more central" within the Ofsted process and ensure every school is inspected on this area regularly, even if they are rated "outstanding". David Cameron says he will look carefully at her suggestion.

     
  71.  
    @EmilyThornberry Emily Thornberry, Labour MP

    tweets: Cameron refuses to rule out putting up tuition fees if re-elected #pmqs

     
  72.  
    12:30: Tuition fees

    Seema Malhotra, a Labour MP, uses her question to ask the PM to rule out increasing tuition fees any further. David Cameron says universities are now better funded, with the number of students having increased, including from poorer backgrounds. Labour has taken four years to work out its own "useless" policy, which hits universities and helps rich students rather than poor ones. It represents the "chaos" that a Labour government would bring, he adds.

     
  73.  
    @CLeslieMP Charlotte Leslie, Tory MP

    tweets: In #PMQs. Never seen anyone look so upset that youth unemployment's gone down as the people opposite me.Just Wow.Election time IS here. :-(

     
  74.  
    12:29: Pic: All eyes on the PM
    David Cameron
     
  75.  
    12:27: Long term plan

    A question from Conservative MP Guy Opperman provides David Cameron with a rather helpful opportunity to set out his "long-term economic plan" for the north east. He goes on to list of what he says are the government's economic achievements.

     
  76.  
    12:26: Minimum wage

    Labour MP Julie Elliot criticises the government over what she sees as its failure on the national minimum wage, which prompts David Cameron to defend his record in this area, citing steps taken to enhance enforcement of the law.

     
  77.  
    @jreedmp Jamie Reed, Labour MP

    tweets: #pmqs Dave extolling the benefits of pubs. I hear they make a great place to leave the kids...

     
  78.  
    12:25: British beer industry

    "I bring the House good news," declares Andrew Griffiths, who tells MPs that British beer sales are up for the first time in a decade - praising the scrapping of the beer duty escalator and cuts in beer duty. He calls for further cuts to the beer duty. David Cameron praises Mr Griffith's campaign work in this area, adding that the government has been a "good friend" to pubs and the beer industry.

     
  79.  
    12:25: Pic: Opposition benches
    David Cameron faces the opposition benches

    David Cameron faces the opposition benches.

     
  80.  
    @gabyhinsliff Gaby Hinsliff, Grazia

    tweets: Seriously unconvinced there's any point whatsoever to #pmqs at this point in the electoral cycle.

     
  81.  
    @IsabelHardman Isabel Hardman, The Spectator

    tweets: That sound is the nails being screwed into the coffin of the TV debates #PMQs. Or else it's the sound of Labour MPs making chicken noises

     
  82.  
    @tnewtondunn Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun

    tweets: Only 10 Labour MPs put their hands up when Cameron asked how many would use Ed's pic in leaflets. Can't believe they fell for that #PMQs

     
  83.  
    @JGForsyth James Forsyth, the Spectator

    tweets: Sign of Tory discipline that Fox's question was about Trident not spending 2% of GDP on defence

     
  84.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC News

    tweets: PM ducks two offers from Ed Miliband to do the head to head tv debate the broadcasters have offered #pmqs

     
  85.  
    12:21: Nuclear weapons

    Liam Fox, former Tory defence secretary, seeks assurances that David Cameron would not agree to scrap the renewal of Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system in any future coalition negotiations. Mr Cameron reaffirms his commitment to the deterrent and says Labour needs to rule out any possibility of a coalition with the SNP, who have said the scrapping of Trident would be a red line in any coalition negotiations.

     
  86.  
    12:19: David Ward question

    Lib Dem David Ward asks the PM whether he feels his and Ed Miliband's behaviour at Prime Minister's Questions either enhances or damages the image of Parliament. In his reply, the prime minister acknowledges it is "inevitably a robust exchange" but says there is always room for improvement. PMQs has an important function, in that it holds government to account, he adds.

     
  87.  
    @paulwaugh Paul Waugh, Politics Home

    tweets: Real prob with Ed M saying he'll attend head to head debate on Apr 30, even if Cam doesn't: TV unlikely to empty chair a 2-way

     
  88.  
    12:18: In touch?

    Labour backbencher David Winnick says he doesn't want to be personal but... the PM "doesn't understand" the lives of people who try to live on modest incomes. The Conservatives remain the party of the rich and privileged, he adds. David Cameron responds that 1.85 million more people are now in work as a result of the government's policies, as he defends his record in office.

     
  89.  
    @IainDale Iain Dale, presenter of LBC Drivetime

    tweets: I can't think anyone can call today's PMQs anything other than a total walkover for @Ed_Miliband. Not often one can say that.

     
  90.  
    12:17: Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian

    tweets: My snap PMQs verdict - PM's bluster machine on overdrive, but Miliband had him bang to rights

     
  91.  
    12:17: Cancer referrals

    On to backbench exchanges now. Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP for Brent North, uses his question to raise concerns about targets for cancer referrals. David Cameron tells him there has been a 50% increase in cancer referrals, and stresses the importance of early diagnosis. He also underlines the need to keep on with the Cancer Drugs Fund.

     
  92.  
    12:16: Pic: Miliband asks a question
    House of Commons
     
  93.  
    12:14: TV debates?

    Ed Miliband tries once again, asking the PM if he will commit to the debates - which is met with the same reply from the PM, who adds that Mr Miliband wants to avoid debating with the Greens. This gives him the chance to joke that Labour's leader had seen Natalie Bennett's "car crash" interview last week as a "master class". That brings the leaders' exchanges to a close.

     
  94.  
    12:12: TV debates?

    "So it's all about leadership?" responds Ed Miliband - which gets cheers from the Tory backbenchers. The Labour leader changes subjects, and goes on the attack over TV election debates, asking the PM if he will commit to the proposed head-to-head debate with him on 30 April. Mr Cameron does not say he will take part, saying "we're having a debate now" and says Miliband can't talk about jobs or the economy because of the government's success.

     
  95.  
    12:10: Election leaflets

    The PM takes a swipe at Ed Miliband whom he says Labour MPs do not want to feature on their election leaflets. He asks for a show of hands for those going to feature Mr Miliband on their leaflets. Lots of arms are raised on the Conservative benches.

     
  96.  
    12:11: Speaker calls for order House of Commons Parliament
    John Bercow

    Speaker John Bercow tries to quieten noisy MPs, telling them they should consider what their rowdiness looks like to the public, whose votes they will be seeking soon.

     
  97.  
    @DJack_Journo David Jack, The Times

    tweets: Cheeky of Miliband to attack Cam on migration given Labour's open-doors policy #PMQs

     
  98.  
    @georgeeaton George Eaton, The New Statesman

    tweets: Challenge for Miliband is to criticise Cameron for breaking a promise without appearing anti-immigration. #PMQs

     
  99.  
    12:08: UKIP immigration policy

    UKIP's immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe says the party's points-based system will work like someone "submitting a CV". "People from anywhere across the world, irrespective of whatever culture, creed, nationality you are, goes onto our system whether its online or through an organisation helping them and puts in their application," he says.

    "If they fit the points they go through to the next stage. Then the Commission will work out what sort of numbers we need for each year. If it says we need 50,000 people that year then we'll have 50,000 visa available and that goes through those people that have passed."

     
  100.  
    12:07: Speaker speaks

    Speaker Bercow is on his feet again, and calls for order (it's getting pretty rowdy in the chamber). Over to Ed Miliband, who says the PM must admit he has broken his promise. David Cameron says he has cut migration from outside the EU but that it has risen from within the EU. He's back to his list of commitments met again.

     

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