Of course, the Daily Mail has form when it comes to smearing party leaders’ families

My colleague Andy Boddington has already (rightly) laid into the Daily Mail for its gratuitous insults against Ed Miliband’s father, Marxist historian Ralph.

The paper has form when it comes to smearing the families of party leaders. Let’s turn back the pages of history to… well, 10 days ago when the Mail tried to link Nick Clegg to fascism through his father-in-law:

clegg father in law daily mail - sept 2013

Or we could roll back to December 2012 when the Mail splash on a desperately thin story implying some form of scandalous link between Miriam González Durántez’s support for Booktrust and the charity being given a government grant.

Or how about April 2010 and the Mail’s ‘Revealed: The story of privilege behind Nick Clegg’s wife’s lingerie shopping trip’? (No longer available on the Mail site, but preserved here.)

My best suggestion?

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Back of the net, Stephen. Nice one.

  • Umm, I actually bothered to go and look at that first story. Clegg goes on about how proud he is that his father in law was the first elected mayor, the DM check it out and find it’s true and even state that the bust there is a fitting tribute to his good deeds.

    However, they also find out that he was first appointed by a fascist regime. A Clegg aide confirms this, then a local historian (probably with an axe to grind) puts forward his point of view, but the DM also provide a counter to that from a 91 year old who would have lived through that time. The DM then finish of with the bit of the speech on the importance of democracy.

    I can’t find any claim that Clegg is a fascist and the article itself doesn’t attempt to accuse him or his father in law of much of anything (apart from the accusation of good deeds at the start that is). Clegg obviously does have a link to someone who held office in a fascist regime, but even the historian only came up with a story about being chucked out of a meeting.

    So are you saying that the papers shouldn’t investigate anything a politician says about people who they claim to have been inspired by? Or perhaps if the article had been in the Guardian it would have been classed as acceptable?

  • I suggest that if readers have a look at the “Daily Mail’s” website now and again, they will find that much of its content sits rather oddly with the tone of prudishness and moral outrage that drips from the pens of its editor and leader writers. There is the prurient obsession with media celebrities and talentless pop singers and the silly things they do. Tattoos and wardrobe malfunctions are shown in full gory detail. Then there is the fascination with the grotesque and unsavoury. Indeed, a few days ago, the website actually published a picture of a python disgorging a dog in the streets of Bangkok. Do the old ladies who read the newspaper actually see this stuff?

    The attack on the late Ralph Miliband was hugely OTT in much the same manner as the 2010 attacks on Nick Clegg. The latter worked.

  • David Allen 1st Oct '13 - 11:13pm

    What Stephen Tall said. The DM then follow up the muckspreading headline with some balanced small print that few will read. The small print is there so that if Clegg complains, the DM can pose with injured innocence, and can quote back all their small print in order to rubbish the complaint.

    (But don’t trust me when I support Clegg, I’m a bit biased…)

  • So the Wail smeared Nick Clegg’s dead father in law before they smeared Ed Miliband’s dead father. There’s a pattern here and, of course, nobody can sue for libel on behalf of a dead person.

    Expect a lot more of this rubbish from the DM (and the rest of the Tory press) agains Miliband, Clegg and other senior Labour and Lib Dem politicians between now and the next election.

  • @Stephen Tall
    But was the headline factual? If it was (and it does seem to be), then it’s not a smear – I’ll ask again, if this had appeared in the Guardian would everyone have been flapping?

  • Its not necessary to attack Miliband via his father. Its enough just to critique his half baked plans, which are many and varied.

  • Sesenco
    “the website actually published a picture of a python disgorging a dog in the streets of Bangkok”
    I haven’t heard anything about it. Nothing in the Thai newspapers.I wonder how recent the video is.
    I have only seen one python on a road in Bangkok in the last thirty years and that was in an outlying area.
    The vegetarian festival is about to start in a few days.I wonder if the Mail will have pictures from Phuket.
    I remember when the Mail used to have the words incorporating the News Chronicle on its masthead.
    The English language The Nation is a much better newspaper than the Mail.

  • Richard Fagence 2nd Oct '13 - 9:52am

    Interested members who care to do a bit of Google research on the Daily Mail’s history will find plenty of material relating to Viscount Rothermere’s admiration of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis in the 1930s, Oswald Moseley’s activities, and so on. It really hasn’t changed that much. To paraphrase a comment I read some years ago (apologies to the author, but I can’t remember who said it) “I read the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday from time to time for the same reason that I read science fiction; it’s good to know what is happening on other planets”.

  • James Sandbach 2nd Oct '13 - 12:50pm

    And yet Stephen continues to oppose the Leveson reforms of press laws and defends a failed self-regulatory system in which the editor of said newspaper/rag can serve on the PCC and Chair their editorial ”Code of Practice’ sub-committee…

  • A Social Liberal 2nd Oct '13 - 1:12pm

    Chris SH

    Are you suggesting that Ralph Milliband hated this country? A man who fought for it during the war and became a citizen of it after, even though he was free to return to Belgium?

  • ASL – preferring to stay in Britain rather than live in Belgium is not necessarily a strong argument against Miliband Snr hating this country.

    The Mail article was lazy and crass, but designed to dog-whistle to its readership on a gut level. Marxist-Jewish undermining of the fabric of the nation was a common theme in the 1930s and the Mail has form in this respect.

    It is in any case not difficult to question the politics of Miliband Jnr and any haf-decent political journalist could have done so.

  • David Allen 2nd Oct '13 - 2:18pm


    “But was the headline factual? If it was (and it does seem to be), then it’s not a smear”

    It’s a fact that some immigrants to this country have committed crimes. If a newspaper blazons names and details at every opportunity, while paying less attention to crimes committed by white Britons, is it any less a smear for being factual?

  • I was surprised you didn’t go back to the infermous ‘Just how British is Nick Clegg’ story which was really ridiculous.

    The Guardian also did a piece on Clegg’s farther in law and that is surely legitimate since Nick referenced him in his speach and given the context as well.

  • David White 2nd Oct '13 - 3:24pm

    Ralph Miliband was a great academic, greatly respected by both his peers and his students.

    His British patriotism is illustrated by his wartime service in ‘the Andrew’. It seems that he volunteered for the Navy before being ‘called-up’. That might have been a cunning stunt: a volunteer had a much greater chance of joining the service of his/her choice than did a conscript.

    However, Miliband pere saw active service (fighting and being fought) and rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Even God jumps to attention when his name is shouted by a CPO!

    I wonder what Paul Dacre hoped to gain from the despicable attack on Ralph Miliband. Both Nick Clegg and David Cameron have expressed their dislike of the article(s) – as have many other public figures.

    The Miliband furore has diverted media attention form the OldCon Manchester lie-fest and love-in.

    Therefore, I wonder if this was a deliberate ploy by Mr Dacre. Well, it’s no secret that Paul Dacre despises ‘Call Me Dave’ and that he was a close friend of Gordon Brown, and will never forgive NewLab for sacking GB.


    Might it be that Mr Dacre has, with one article, tried to ‘shaft’ both Cameron and Miliband?

  • @A Social Liberal
    Are you reading the right thread? What has RM got to do with it, that was covered in another article.

    @David Allen
    “It’s a fact that some immigrants to this country have committed crimes. If a newspaper blazons names and details at every opportunity, while paying less attention to crimes committed by white Britons, is it any less a smear for being factual?”

    Actually I don’t see what relevance that comment has to this discussion, does the DM say that all Spanish immigrants are fascists? Were the facts true? Simple question really.

  • David White 2nd Oct '13 - 3:31pm

    Sorry about yet another typo, chums.

    Why has the Daily Wail not mentioned the loudly and proudly professed views of a previous Lord Rothermere? To quote a famous magazine, ‘I think we should be told’ – by Paul Dacre.

  • I suppose to many British people Miliband, Cameron and Clegg all ‘hate’ Britain in that they want it subsumed by the EU state. I can see their point.

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