If you’ve read my Shooting Parrots for long enough you’ll know that I don’t have a lot of time for politicians. There are one or two that I admire, but most fall into the ‘waste of space’ category, while there is a select few that I actively detest.
But thinking about the latter group, would I think any worse of them if I found out their father was a war criminal, a rapist or a racist?
If I’m honest, the answer is probably yes because we all like to have our prejudices reinforced no matter how unfair that might be. Which is why the Daily Mail published that story about Ed Miliband’s dad – to titillate its readers’ political palate.
Fair or not, can you really visit the sins of the father on his children? I don’t think so. It is no secret that Ralph Miliband was a Marxist but their headline ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’ is completely unsubstantiated.
Well apart from a diary entry by the 17-year-old Miliband pater familias when he wrote: ‘The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world . . . you sometimes want them almost to lose [the war] to show them how things are.’
Note the word ‘sometimes’ – this wasn’t someone who actually wanted such a thing to happen, but thought it might be a wake-up call for a country which was pretty much as he described during the war years.
The other damning evidence as far as the Mail is concerned is Miliband’s atheism, opposition to the constitutional monarchy and Marxism which are ipso facto anti-British, but if that’s the case then quite a large slice of the population would stand trial for treason if the Mail had its way.
The Mail has form for this sort of smear tactic as I wrote about back in 2010 following David Miliband’s spoke of his admiration for Joe Slovo on the BBC Great Lives programme.
The Mail carried his comment when asked whether he thought that terrorism was ever justified when he said: ‘Yes, there are circumstances in which it is justifiable, and yes, there are circumstances in which it is effective, but it is never effective on its own.’ Except that the Mail omitted the last part of the quote, nor did it set it in the context of apartheid in South Africa.
But hard as I try, I can’t get too angry about the latest outburst of bile by the Mail for the simple reason that it appears to have had the reverse opposite impact than the one they planned in that public sympathy is siding with Ed Miliband, plus it has completely overshadowed David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference.
Serves ’em right.