Are there no lines that the Mail and the Mail on Sunday will not cross? Is their personal vendetta against Ed Miliband so all consuming that they’re willing to break every social convention? Are they willing to abandon every shred of decency and shame an already bruised and battered journalistic profession by intruding on private grief to try and get the Miliband family on record about a story that they themselves concocted?
To write lies and smears about his father in an attempt to bait and goad Ed Miliband was vile. Using Miliband’s thoughtful response to their bullying as an excuse to escalate the row was ungracious and disgraceful. Ramping up the not so subtle smears about Ralph Miliband and his son in the days since is distasteful but entirely in character.
But the Mail on Sunday sending reporters to harass and hassle Miliband’s family at his uncle’s memorial service? That’s just plain sick, and twisted and wrong.
Quite rightly, the Mail on Sunday have apologised this afternoon, but that shouldn’t be the end of this shameful episode. And of course it won’t be, because the Mail (and their Sunday equivalent) have shown themselves to be completely lacking in decency. An advertising boycott might chasten them, and it might make them think before they bully and abuse their next victim, but it won’t change the culture at the paper – not unless those at the top are held personally responsible for the gross events of the past week. Suspending a few journalists won’t stop this from happening again. We’ve heard the “few rogue journalists” excuse before, and it’s bollocks.
This culture stems from Paul Dacre’s office.
He may not be the Editor of the Mail on Sunday (the perpetrator of the most egregious misdeeds thus far), but he is clearly at the epicentre of the culture that exists at the Mail. Of personalised targeting of perceived enemies. Of attacking anyone who doesn’t into the narrow and outdated worldview espoused by the Mail. Left wing? Gay? Poor? Receive any form of welfare? Good luck to you – because the Daily Mail has decided you’re their enemy. You could have your reputation traduced. You could be doorstepped. You could be hassled and harassed. All because you’re not what the Daily Mail thinks Britain should look like.
They have the temerity to say that Ralph Miliband – a war hero – hated Britain, when in truth they are the haters of what Britain is and what Britain has become.
And this whole culture, this poisonous attitude, can all be traced back to the man in the Editor’s chair. The man who decides who the enemies of the Mail are – Paul Dacre. A man so cowardly that he is rarely seen in public but won’t afford such privacy to others. It’s time he was made to explain his actions (as Alastair Campbell has suggested), and those of his newspaper. He should be held account for the damage that his paper wreaks without any sense of responsibility. He needs to prove that the morals which his paper aspouses are not just a shield behind which petty vendettas are launched.
He needs to show his face – and face the music, if he has a shred of decency left. But decency is something that Dacre has shown he lacks. And for that reason, I won’t be holding my breath..