The week of the Conservative Party conference has seen David Cameron’s promises of benefit cuts to under-25s and further restrictions on immigration overshadowed by the ongoing political row between the Daily Mail and Labour leader Ed Miliband.
The Daily Mail has steadfastly refused to back down on their claims that Miliband’s farther, the Marxist academic and holocaust refugee Ralph Miliband, was a “man who hated Britain” and who left an “evil legacy” – despite publishing a moving article from Miliband himself describing his father’s love of his adopted country. The reaction to the attack achieved the rare feat of uniting the left and the right of the Labour Party against the Mail, as well as Nick Clegg and several members of the Conservative Party.
However, sister paper the Mail on Sunday seems to have overreached itself somewhat by sending a journalist to a memorial service held for Miliband’s late uncle, seeking to gather comments for publication in the press this weekend. In contrast to the Mail editor Paul Dacre, who has remained defiant over the publication of the articles, Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig swiftly apologied for the error in judgement and suspended two members of staff.
With Miliband’s call for “decency” in political life seemingly resonating with the public – his office claims to have received over 10,000 messages of support – the episode raises interesting questions not only relating to the reform of press regulation – proposals for a press royal charter with a new press regulator to replace the Press Complaints Commission are due to be discussed next week – but also whether “Red Ed” will continue to be an effective line of attack for Miliband’s opponents. The danger now is that it will be inextricably linked with the Mail’s discredited attempt to use his father’s views against him.