If Miliband’s Mail-bashing was really about sticking up for his dad, he would not have used jarring political lines about the “cost of living crisis” in his letter to Lord Rothermere yesterday. His interview with LabourList this morning betrays the real motivation for why Miliband and Alastair Campbell, who is at the centre of this, have gone after the Mail:
“What we’ve seen over the past five days is a symptom of that and it’s time he took a long hard look at the way his papers are run because I don’t believe that reflects the values of the British people.
“I want to know how these practices are allowed to happen. Not on the basis of being “one rogue reporter” or “one rogue editor”, but what is it about the culture and practice of the organisation that makes these kind of things acceptable?
If we’re going to have those massive debates about the cost of living, we need to have proper standards of decency in our press.”
This is about Leveson, the Royal Charter and state regulation of the press. Miliband believes it is for politicians to decide whether papers “reflect the values of the British people”. Read that as whether they reflect his values. He wants to know how papers are “allowed” to print opinion that he disagrees with, that he finds offensive. That last line, “we need to have proper standards of decency in our press”, is chilling. It shows an incredible mindset from Miliband that he feels it is a politician’s place to decide what constitutes “decency” in the media. As Fraser Nelson notes, next week the Privy Council meets to discuss newspapers’ attempt to prevent state regulation of the press. Hugh Grant and Hacked Off have already tried to hijack the story. Miliband’s timing is no coincidence…
Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig has apologised “unreservedly for a reporter intruding into a private memorial service”:
“The reporter was sent without my knowledge; it was a decision which was wrong. Two journalists have been suspended and a full investigation is now being carried out. I would further like to apologise to members of the family and friends attending the service for this deplorable intrusion. I have already spoken personally to Ed Miliband and expressed my regret that such a terrible lapse of judgement should have taken place. It is completely contrary to the values and editorial standards of The Mail on Sunday. I understand that Lord Rothermere is personally writing to Ed Miliband.”
Damage control for ‘the plan’ to takeover?
Dear Lord Rothermere,
Yesterday I spoke at a memorial event held at Guy’s Hospital in London for my uncle, Professor Harry Keen, a distinguished doctor who died earlier this year. It was an event in a room on the 29th floor of Guy’s Hospital which was attended only by family members, close friends and colleagues.
I was told by one of my relatives late yesterday evening that a reporter from the Mail on Sunday had found her way into the event uninvited. I also discovered that, once there, she approached members of my family seeking comments on the controversy over the Daily Mail’s description of my late father as someone who “hated Britain”.
My wider family, who are not in public life, feel understandably appalled and shocked that this can have happened.
The Editor of the Mail on Sunday has since confirmed to my office that a journalist from his newspaper did indeed attend the memorial uninvited with the intention of seeking information for publication this weekend.
Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. I believe it a symptom of the culture and practices of both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.
There are many decent people working at those newspapers and I know that many of them will be disgusted by this latest episode. But they will also recognise that what has happened to my family has happened to many others.
I believe no purpose would be served by me complaining to the Press Complaints Commission because it is widely discredited.
Instead, I am writing to you as the owners of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday because I believe it is long overdue that you reflect on the culture of your newspapers. You should conduct your own swift investigation into who was responsible at a senior level for this latest episode and also who is responsible for the culture and practices of these newspapers which jar so badly with the values of your readers.
There are bigger issues for the people of Britain in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for a century than intrusion into the life of my family. But the reaction of many people to the Daily Mail’s attacks on my father this week demonstrates that the way your newspapers have behaved does not reflect the real character of our country.
It is now your responsibility to respond.
Well this could be a blow to the ambitious plans of Mail on Sunday Editor Geordie Greig.
The Mail are still not letting the row with Ed Miliband slide. Stephen Glover takes up the mantle today, reminding readers that Ed does not have the best of records when it comes to distasteful attacks. They have dug up the photo, revealed by Guido in 2011, of the Labour leader smiling with the Thatcher grave dancer. Glover expands on the politics behind the row:
“What we have seen over the past few days is a show of calculated hysteria on the part of the Labour leader. Of course, no man likes to hear his dead father publicly criticised. But, as I have said, one can think of a thousand more damaging criticisms than the one this paper made against Ralph Miliband. On one level, Red Ed knew that, as he has bound himself to his father in a series of speeches, he could not afford to let the accusation that Miliband senior had hated Britain go unchallenged. On another level, Ed Miliband realised that his diatribes against this paper would go down well with the party faithful, and possibly convince the wider electorate that he was stronger and more determined than they had thought.
He may also hope that, by creating such an almighty hullabaloo about his supposedly traduced father 19 months before the general election, he will somehow neutralise a potentially embarrassing issue — the influence of his Marxist father on his own beliefs — and deter the Press from returning to it in the near future. Let us acknowledge his political guile. But the notion that he is the hapless victim of an overmighty Press is as far-fetched as the suggestion that the Right is more successful in vilifying its enemies than the Left. In recent times, the opposite is much closer to the truth.”
Guido told Miliband once that he was going to be “Kinnocked” before the next election. Perhaps he was listening…
Miliband’s decision to rise to the Mail saying mean things about his dad went well then. Touch a nerve?
“Britain has always benefited from a free Press. Those freedoms should be treasured. They are vital for our democracy. Journalists need to hold politicians like me to account — none of us should be given an easy ride — and I look forward to a robust 19 months between now and the General Election.
But what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday was of a different order all together. I know they say ‘you can’t libel the dead’, but you can smear them.”
So Ed gets a fifth of the page, the Mail use to the rest to twist the knife. Comprehensively. What did he expect them to do?
The Mail have given Ed Miliband a right of reply to Geoffrey Levy’s hatchet job at the weekend that accused his late father of ‘hating Britain’. A source familiar with the situation tells Guido that Labour leader ‘went absolutely spastic’ about it. Eighteen months out of the election and Ed might have to get used to this. Nick Clegg got a worse pasting in 2010…
The irony is exquisite, Damian McBride is hurt that supposed friends are briefing about his private life:
Hmmm, an old colleague is feeding stories to the Sunday tabloids about my past private life. It's a good job I'm no longer a vengeful soul.—
Damian McBride (@DPMcBride) September 21, 2013
When you're steeped in anonymous briefings, you can read the source instantly, however clever or careful they think they're being.—
Damian McBride (@DPMcBride) September 21, 2013
A brilliant story from the Mail that, no doubt because of the lawyers, is missing the basic who, when and where? The other question that arises, in the party from which Ed Miliband told us this morning he has banned anonymous briefing, is who briefed the story to the Mail? Cui bono?
Anyway here is a reminder of the female ministers from that 2003 – 2009 era, Dawn Primarolo, Margaret Beckett, Patricia Scotland, Harriet Harman, Ruth Kelly, Beverly Hughes, Hazel Blears, Jacqui Smith, Yvette Cooper, Caroline Flint, Melanie Johnson, Jane Kennedy, Gisela Stuart, Rosie Winterton, Maria Eagle, Anne McGuire, Baroness Ashton, Baroness Morgan, Meg Munn, Barbara Follet, Kitty Ussher, Baroness Taylor, Baroness Glenys Kinnock and Shriti Vadera. My guess is you can rule out the Blairites…
According to Tory MPs in the room, the Prime Minister just told them that nine journalists have been “stopped” by the police for trying to infiltrate their away day conference. The PM said:
“I don’t know if they were tasered”
The news was met with a resounding cheer. They have been warned to be careful who they speak to in bars and restaurants. There is an unconfirmed rumour doing the rounds that some of the journalists have been nicked. Developing…
Melanie Phillips has left the Mail, Media Guido can reveal. She blogs:
The Mail want to shake up their Monday op-ed page and so I shall shortly stop writing my regular Monday column for them. Instead, they want me to write other major pieces. They say they are very keen that I should continue to have a significant presence in the paper.
That’s certainly an option, although I have other plans for writing – and now, also, publishing. I am gratefully aware, though, from the many thousands of people who have written to me in passionate agreement over the years, that I have a very large following indeed among Daily Mail readers. Many write to me to say I am the only reason they read the paper (it’s enough to turn a girl’s head!) Only today, I was stopped at a Tube station by a woman who said: ‘I love your articles; don’t ever stop writing them’.
I can promise her, and all my many followers, that I shall indeed continue to write them. As for where – well, watch this space.
It is understood that she will be replaced by Dominic Lawson.
Maggie and Mandela | Charles Moore
Mandela was Christ-Like | Peter Oborne
Maggie Personally Donated £20,000 to Mandela Foundation | Bono
Why Environmentalists Should Favour Fracking | CPS
Balls Gag Falls Flat | Asa Bennett
Mandela the Thatcherite | John Pilger
Balls’ Heckling Hypocrisy | Isabel Hardman
Gordon Dinner Raises Just $350 | Trending Central
Labour Need Darling to Replace Balls | Peter Oborne
Osborne Will Have to Push Harder Than This | Fraser Nelson
No, Cameron Did Not Make Hang Mandela Posters | Buzzfeed
Nelson Mandela on Margaret Thatcher, July 1990…
“She is an enemy of apartheid… We have much to thank her for.”