THERE appears to be no likelihood of a victor emerging from the dreadful squabble between Labour leader Ed Miliband and the owners of Daily Mail newspapers over his father Ralph’s legacy (your report, 4 October).
The circulation of the newspapers may decline or increase as a result of the publicity; Mr Miliband’s poll ratings may increase or decrease according to how the public perceives the way he has handled the controversy.
Perhaps more important is an attempt to look in a cool way at the charge that the late Ralph Miliband actually “hated Britain”.
Ralph Miliband’s works – particularly The State in Capitalist Society – made some deep criticisms of the British establishment, the links between parliament, public schools, universities, civil service, large corporations, the military, and even the role of the trade unions.
His analysis was a Marxist one, seeking to show how this network solidifies the class structure in society. But Ralph Miliband stands in some illustrious company when he sought to show how much this works against the disadvantaged.
David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, the late Sir David Frost and a host of satirists, C Northcote Parkinson, Clement Attlee, even Margaret Thatcher, are just some of the people who in their own way have launched attacks on the citadels of power. Would anyone seriously suggest that they were public figures who “hated Britain”?
Like most Marxists, Ralph Miliband made the mistake of overestimating the amount of power working people really want. He also made some false assumptions about how they would use power if they got it.
Neither of those errors can justify the comment that he “hated” Britain and its people, or even the establishment he felt held it back.
WITHOUT defending the Daily Mail’s crass headline, I note that many of those, such as those who appeared this week on the BBC’s Question Time, who excuse the late Ralph Miliband’s insulting comments aged 17 about the English, because “we all say and do stupid things at 17”, also propose giving the vote to 16-year-olds.
And of course, Michael Foot’s description of Norman Tebbit as a “semi house-trained polecat” was deemed somehow acceptable.
St Andrews, Fife