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Miliband in Mail row over 'smear'

Source BBC News@ tienganhvui.com


Ed Miliband addresses Labour Party conference on 24 September 2013Mr Miliband said Britain was a source of "hope and comfort" for his father



Labour leader Ed Miliband is locked in a row with the Daily Mail over an article on his Marxist academic father headlined "the man who hated Britain".


He says the story about the late Ralph Miliband's political beliefs was a "character assassination" and "smear".


In a response in the paper, Mr Miliband says the Jewish refugee, who fled Belgium aged 16 to escape the Nazis, "loved" Britain and served in the Navy.


The Mail says in an editorial it will not apologise and stands by the story.


In Saturday's article, journalist Geoffrey Levy questioned how the beliefs of Ralph Miliband, who died in 1994, may have influenced the Labour leader and his brother, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband.


It highlighted a diary entry Ralph Miliband wrote at the age of 17 saying that the English were "perhaps the most nationalist people in the world... you sometimes want them almost to lose [the war] to show them how things are".


It goes on to say "how passionately he would have approved today of his son's sinister warning about some of the policies he plans to follow if he ever becomes prime minister".


In his piece in Tuesday's edition, Ed Miliband says it is "part of our job description as politicians to be criticised and attacked by newspapers... the British people have great wisdom to sort the fair from the unfair. And I have other ways of answering back".


But he adds: "There is no credible argument in the article or evidence from [Ralph Miliband's] life which can remotely justify the lurid headline and its accompanying claim that it would 'disturb everyone who loves this country'."


He says Britain for his father "was a source of hope and comfort for him, not hatred".


"Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in the Second World War," Mr Miliband says.


He says the diary entry described the "suspicion he found of the Continent and the French when he arrived here".


"To ignore his service and work in Britain and build an entire case about him hating our country on an adolescent diary entry is, of course, absurd".


Mr Miliband says his father joined the Royal Navy as he "was determined to be part of the fight against the Nazis and to help his family hidden in Belgium. He was fighting for Britain".


Ralph Miliband in 1957Ralph Miliband died in 1994 at the age of 70


He adds: "My father's strongly left-wing views are well known, as is the fact that I have pursued a different path and I have a different vision...


"The idea of me being part of some 'sinister' Marxist plot would have amused him and disappointed him in equal measure and for the same reason - he would have known it was ludicrously untrue. I want to make capitalism work for working people, not destroy it."


He says: "My Dad loved Britain, he served Britain, and he taught both David and me to do the same.... they say 'you can't libel the dead' but you can smear them."


The Daily Mail's editorial - published alongside Mr Miliband's response and an abridged version of the original article - is headlined "an evil legacy and why we wont apologise".


The paper says it stands by "every word" of its article.


BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said it was not unusual for a Labour leader to disagree with the Daily Mail but the row is highly personal.


In a statement, the Labour Party said: "Ed Miliband wrote his right to reply article because he wanted to state clearly that his father loved Britain.


"He wanted the Daily Mail to treat his late father's reputation fairly. Rather than acknowledge it has smeared his father, tonight the newspaper has repeated its original claim. This simply diminishes the Daily Mail further."





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