I can imagine there are very few people on all sides of the political spectrum in the UK that do not support Ed Miliband in his fight against The Daily Mail’s vicious smear campaign. Miliband took the rather unprecedented step for a politician when he decided to take on the Daily Mail directly. The hate rag, that apparently has no issue hounding vulnerable people to suicide aimed their most recent attack at the Labour leader’s late father; the revered Marxist academic Ralph Miliband. The Mail wrote:
“The man who hated Britain: Red Ed’s pledge to bring back socialism is a homage to his Marxist father. So what did Miliband Snr really believe in? The answer should disturb everyone who loves this country.”
– The entire piece surrounds a quote from Miliband Snr’s diary from the age of 17, in which he refers to Brits as ‘rabid Nationalists’. The entire piece asserting that the Labour leader’s father ‘hated Britain’ rests on that one quote. It is the mark of a paper that has no reasonable argument to make, and so just attacks, just hounds, and just aims to hurt lives. This is how the Daily Mail operates. It exists not to inform, but to injure. Not to progress debate, but to mislead and misrepresent. They do however present one aspect of the story, that they predictably quickly gloss over, but it is worth expanding on. The quote from the piece in question is:
“Ralph Miliband then served three years in the Royal Navy…”
– This is a particularly important quote, because whilst the father of Ed Miliband was fighting the Nazis by manning a destroyer during the heroic Normandy landings, the great-grandfather of the owner of the British-loving Daily Mail was back in the safety of Britain, supporting Hitler.
In fact as early as 1926, the Mail was known throughout Europe as a Fascist publication. In that year, Benito Mussolini wrote to the new Chief Correspondent at the Mail, G. Ward Price:
“My dear Price, I am glad you have become a director of the Daily Mail, and I am sure that your very popular and widely circulated newspaper will continue to be a sincere friend of fascist Italy. With best wishes and greetings, Mussolini.
A few years after a delighted Mussolini congratulated the Mail’s new Chief Correspondent on his position on the Fascist supporting paper, the proprietor of The Daily Mail, Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere in 1933 took that support one step further:
“I urge all British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations of its opponents. The most spiteful detractors of the Nazis are to be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call “Nazi atrocities” which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny.”
– This was in the same year the Nazis implemented the Jewish boycott, leading to state managed harassment, beatings, and forced removals of Jews by Nazis. Less than a year later, the Nazis would engage in what is commonly referred to as the “night of the long knives”, in which political critics of the regime were brutally murdered. Lord Rothermere believed at this point that the Nazis bloodthirsty tyranny was being misrepresented.
In 1934, The Daily Mail began openly supporting the blackshirts; The British Union of Fascists, through its leader Oswald Mosley (himself heavily influenced by Mussolini, whom he met earlier in the decade). In 1934, the Mail wrote that the British Union of Fascists were:
“…a well organised party of the right ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini have displayed”.
– This makes the “rapid nationalists” quote of Ralph Miliband seem completely uncontroversial. The Daily Mail openly supporting the methods and purpose of Hitler and Mussolini, for the sake of Fascism in Britain.
In the 1934, Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, and owner of The Daily Mail flew to Germany, and met with Adolf Hitler. Here are the happy couple:
In 1938, the Nazi owner of the Fascist-supporting, anti-British Daily Mail sent a telegram to Hitler to announce his support for the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland. In it, Rothermere wrote:
“My dear Fuhrer everyone in England is profoundly moved by the bloodless solution to the Czechoslovakian problem. People not so much concerned with territorial readjustment as with dread of another war with its accompanying bloodbath. Frederick the Great was a great popular figure. I salute your excellency’s star which rises higher and higher.”
– Rothermere was fully supporting an apparent Nazi (not German) right to empire in Europe. The annexation of Sudetenland lead to its Jewish inhabitants rounded up and thrown into concentration camps, alongside any left leaning opposition in the territories. A month after Rothermere sent his telegram of support for the “bloodless solution”, Sudetenland and the rest of the Nazi empire experienced the truly horrific night of broken glass, in which 91 Jews were murdered, Jewish homes and businesses destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men, women and children rounded up like animals and thrown into concentration camps.
A letter from Rothermere in 1939 (six years into Nazi control of Germany, and thousands of political murders later) congratulated Hitler on his success in Prague, and urged him to move on to Romania. Rothermere had befriended and was paying a Nazi spy in Britain – Stephanie von Hohenlohe – to further his contacts in Nazi Germany, and pass correspondence between himself and the regime. The brutality of the regime at this late point was obvious. Rothermere and the Mail turned a blind eye to it.
So, when you hear the Daily Mail insist that it is relevant to point to brief notes from the mid-20th Century childhood of the father of a political leader in the 21st Century as proof of his “hate” for Britain, and as an attack on his son today… we must keep in mind that during the same period of time, their paper and its owner (the great-grandfather of its current owner) were hoping British troops would fail (including the bravery of Ralph Miliband), and openly praying for a Nazi victory, and dictatorial Fascism across Europe and Britain.