The Mail are part of the Tory election machine – Miliband must treat them as such

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I’d love to tell you I was surprised when I heard that the Daily Mail had smeared Ed Miliband’s father Ralph as a man who “hated Britain”. I’d love to recount my shock at one of Britain’s biggest national newspapers attacking a war hero who died twenty years ago. I’d love to say that I gasped in disbelief at the wilful hurt inflicted upon a political opponent. I’d love to say I was flabbergasted when I saw that they’d used Miliband’s thoughtful rebuttal in their paper as a hook for repeating those smears this morning.

But I can’t. Because this is the Daily Mail. And I afraid there is little wickedness they could stoop to that would elicit any form of surprise from me whatsoever.

Want to see a family-based political hit job in action? See how the Mail attempted to take Clegg apart in 2010 for the temerity of having foreign relations, foreign ancestors and a foreign wife (unsurprisingly Clegg has stood by Miliband today). Because Nick Clegg’s family hasn’t been sat under the same oak tree for a thousand generations, it seems he does to fulfil the Mail’s distorted definition of Britishness. Neither, it seems does Ed Miliband. Or his war hero father who, upon arriving in Britain, working hard and joining the Navy, fought for our country in the Second World War.

Sounds pretty damn British to me. Sounds pretty damn heroic too. Say what you like about Ralph Miliband, but he was always on the right side of history against Fascism – unlike the Daily Mail whose official position at one point was “Hurrah for the blackshirts”.

Yet the Daily Mail appears to take a different view. Perhaps the on Remembrance Day this year the Mail will tell us which war heroes don’t count, because they weren’t born here, or because their politics were wrong? Maybe it will smear them all one by one as haters of Britain.

Of course they won’t. The simple truth is that Ralph Miliband’s politics and his adolescent diary entries are only of interest to the Daily Mail because they hate Ed Miliband. That’s not hyperbole. The Daily Mail dislikes most Labour leaders. It holds their politics in contempt and often traduced their characters. But the Daily Mail genuinely hates Ed Miliband, and the reasoning is laid bare today at the end of their ranting invective masquerading as editorial – Leveson. The Mail hates Ed Miliband because if he had his way, papers might have to justify political smears against the family members of politicians (for example). It hates him to the extent that it refers to his call for decency on their own pages as “menacing”. To say that, as a result, Miliband’s office and the Mail are not on speaking terms today would be an understatement.

The Mail has gone to war with Miliband – and today’s chicanery is only the start. The front page of the Daily Mail will be integral to the Tory war machine over the next 18 months – which explains Hunt refusing to condemn them and Osborne’s odd attempt to claim that Ed Miliband is a Marxist – and Labour will struggle to ever receive a fair hearing from them. The same goes for several other nationals (The Telegraph, The Sun, The Express and perhaps the Mail) – even the Guardian are else than full throated in their support for Labour, seemingly pining at times for a return to Lib/Labbery.

That means Miliband and Labour are faced with a stark choice. They can either try and work with Britain’s right wing press – who are irreconcilably opposed to him – accepting that every so often they will receive a slap in the face or worse, the editorial equivalent of someone pissing on your leg while they smile to your face (like the Mail today) – or they can ignore them, and try to speak to the public directly. The newspapers are not as powerful as they once were, and a combination of broadcast and social media can be used to shape a story in a way that leaves even the most hostile papers in no doubt about how a story should be covered.

The Labour Party needs to ween itself off their abusive relationship with certain newspapers. Today might just be the start of that process.

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