The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency. – Theodore Roosevelt
In the last few days the Daily Mail newspaper has published articles and an editorial smearing Ralph Miliband, the late father of Labour leader Ed Miliband. They claim he “hated Britain” and was “evil”. In reality Ralph Miliband loved Britain and served in the Royal Navy during the war.
The Daily Mail complained about people not showing respect for the dead earlier this year. Now they smear a man who died 19 years ago.
In 1938, after Hitler had opened concentration camps in Nazi Germany, the Daily Mail was supporting fascists in Britain and Germany. The then proprietor, Lord Rothermere, the great grand father the Daily Mail’s current chairman, met with Hitler and publicly supported him up until just a few months before the start of the war.
The Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband by smearing his late father is an extraordinary new low for the right wing press. It makes me wonder what they will get up to in the next 18 months. Despicable though this is, the Tories know that negative, cynical campaigning works. David Cameron refused to condemn the Mail’s attacks and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt joined in today. It is clearly a coordinated attack and, it seems, the coordinator must be Australian Lynton Crosby, Cameron’s campaign supremo. This is going to get worse and worse in the run up to the general election.
Negative politics damages our country and its people. I’ve been subjected to personal abuse (like this and this and this), swearing, threats and even an assault by political opponents in Surrey Heath. The newspaper that said “Hurrah for the black shirts” would approve of these thugs too, no doubt. Social media is used as a weapon here by Tory councillors to abuse anyone who dares to question or analyse council policy. Local democracy is under threat too.
Ed Miliband has called for decency in British politics. This is much needed at every level. Heroes like Ralph Miliband fought to save our democracy, we mustn’t hand it over to unaccountable powers who smear and abuse. Let’s call them out whenever and wherever they cross the line.