I was struck when reading Paul Dacre’s Guardian article over the weekend by how easily I could imagine looking back in a decade on the spat over Ralph Miliband and seeing it as the emerging fault line of what became a UK culture war. I certainly hope I’m wrong but the increasingly hysterical rhetoric emanating from sections of the right in the UK feels remarkably familiar to much of what I’ve been fascinated by (at a safe distance) in US politics for years. If you accept the argument that the US culture wars were deliberately fomented as a political strategy then, in my view, the question becomes one of whether they could take hold here – it seems obvious that it would it be in the interests of some for this to happen.
The Mail has recognised the hurt Mr Miliband felt over our attack on his father’s beliefs. We were happy to give him considerable space to describe how his father had fought for Britain (though a man who so smoothly diddled his brother risks laying himself open to charges of cynicism if he makes too much of a fanfare over familial loyalties).
For the record, the Mail received a mere two letters of complaint before Mr Miliband’s intervention and only a few hundred letters and emails since – many in support. A weekend demonstration against the paper attracted just 110 people.
It seems that in the real world people – most of all our readers – were far more supportive of us than the chatterati would have you believe.
PS – this week the head of MI5 – subsequently backed by the PM, the deputy PM, the home secretary and Labour’s elder statesman Jack Straw – effectively accused the Guardian of aiding terrorism by publishing stolen secret security files. The story – which is of huge significance – was given scant coverage by a BBC which only a week ago had devoted days of wall-to-wall pejorative coverage to the Mail. Again, I ask fair readers, what is worse: to criticise the views of a Marxist thinker, whose ideology is anathema to most and who had huge influence on the man who could one day control our security forces … or to put British lives at risk by helping terrorists?