Even though I'm no huge fan of Ed Miliband, or indeed of his personal politics, it speaks volumes about both the ownership and the editorship of the Daily Mail, when it judges that it is perfectly acceptable to publicly denigrate the political and personal reputation of a dead man, simply to undermine the firmly held beliefs and ideologies of his surviving sons, David and Ed Miliband. Whether or not Ralph Miliband wrote that he "hated" Britain when he was a 17-year-old refugee is generally immaterial, the same as Nigel Farage being a complete pain in the arse when he was a schoolboy is! To suggest otherwise is to try and make the rather senseless argument that people don't change as they get older, grow wiser, or become better informed, which they generally do of course. In fact, if these latest instances of the Daily Mail headlines are anything to go by, the only people who appear to be living in the past; and who are fundamentally opposed to change, to new ideas, are the owners and editors of that particular newspaper, the very same people who are happy to point out everyone else's failings, whilst refusing to recognise their own.
Had the editors and writers of the Daily Mail existed during the 16th and 17th centuries, one could have easily imagined them issuing the sorts of half-truths, gossip, rumour, or innuendo that would have consigned the entirely genuine Protestant or Catholic believer to their fate on the fiery stake, or sent the wholly innocent woman to her death because of their claims that she was a witch. In truth they are reminiscent of the rabble rousers who initially raise the mob of public indignation, the old crones who gleefully observe as the guillotine of civic outrage shreds the reputation of anyone who inspires their editorial wrath; yet like cowards, they are often the first to run away when any sort of reckoning beckons.
It seems both extremely ironic and deeply hypocritical that a newspaper which will so easily bemoan the fate of a teenager bullied into suicide, will quite contentedly bully a celebrity, besmirch a politician, or even the dead, without seeming to have the slightest sense of public or moral responsibility, regarding the effects that such stories might have on the individual themselves, on their families, or even on their reputations. Were it not so tragic, it would be funny to consider that a newspaper which regularly displays headlines closely akin to the sort of anonymous scrawling that one might witness on a toilet wall, then has the temerity to criticise other publishers and media providers for their behaviour, as if the Daily Mail is somehow any better!
It is interesting that the Daily Mail is the same newspaper that has tried so hard to establish a link between UKIP, its leadership and its membership with the far right of British politics, yet seems to have conveniently forgotten that prior to World War II, its proprietor, Lord Rothermere, was said to be on friendly terms with both Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, the leaders of Europe's two main fascist parties. And that its owner, Lord Rothermere was also reported to have penned an article, printed in his own media group, praising Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, for promoting sound, commonsense Conservative doctrine.
Having previously tried to establish its own political party within the British electoral system, with very little success, the owners of the Daily Mail have subsequently pinned their hopes on the coat-tails of the Conservative Party, the most suitable home for their anti-welfare, anti-immigration, anti-Labour, pro-business, low tax, minimal regulation, small government agenda.
In what has turned out to be a mutually beneficial relationship, the Daily Mail has become a public herald for the low tax, small government and pro-business ideology of the modern day Conservative Party, helping to find or sometimes simply inventing the newspaper headlines that will effectively underpin their chosen political partner's ideological thinking. If a story is required to undermine the Conservatives political opponents, the Trade Unions, the Labour Party, UKIP, or even the Liberal Democrats, the Daily Mail can be relied upon to furnish the goods. If the Conservatives need to promote a given policy, part privatisation of the NHS, Workfare, Welfare Cuts, massive reductions in the Public Sector Workforce, again the Daily Mail can be relied upon to supply the stories to help substantiate the government's "urgent need" to carry out their entirely ideological policies.
It is little wonder perhaps that health workers, the disabled and the unemployed have become the targets for the Daily Mail's army of avid reporters and feature writers. One can only imagine the sense of self satisfaction that they must glean from achieving their desired objectives, of undermining the work of the countless doctors, the nurses and the healthcares who struggle to cope in the most onerous of conditions, yet you can bet your bottom dollar that the Daily Mail reporters will somehow find those very small numbers of health employees who have failed in their task. After all, they're not really interested in the 99% of doctors, nurses, or healthcare workers who do their job properly, caringly, even lovingly, they're only interested in the 1% who don't!
The same Daily Mail ethos is obviously applied to the unemployed and welfare claimants. The fact that there are 2.5 million people out of work in the UK, the vast majority of whom are genuine claimants, is largely immaterial to the Mail's researchers and reporters, who are only interested in finding that very small minority who aren't genuine and who are cheating the system. Even assuming that they could find one benefit cheat per day, which they most certainly don't, that would equate to 365 benefit cheats per year, which as a percentage of the 2.5 million unemployed equates to 0.014% of the total number of benefit claimants, which probably wouldn't raise a ripple with any other news organisation in the world. For the Daily Mail however, such a insignificant number could quite easily be used to build a Conservative inspired house-of-cards, one that would publicly be regarded as being of such epic proportions that the government would be forced to act to stamp out such widespread abuse. Building mountains out of molehills is after all the Daily Mail's main line of business, as opposed to just blandly reporting the news as it happened, or as it is. Embellishment, elaboration and exaggeration are this particular newspaper's USP (Unique Selling Point); and if that helps convince their largely uninformed readership that the Conservative way is the right way, then so much the better.
Although the Daily Mail is currently trying to justify its reporting of Mr Miliband's father by implying that it is in the public interest, because of Ed Miliband's position as Labour leader and therefore potential future Prime Minister, the fact that it is and remains an organ of the Conservative Party, would tend to suggest that public interest is only part of the reason for its wholly unwarranted attack on the late Mr Miliband's reputation. Clearly, the still outstanding matter of the Leveson Report on Press Standards will have played a significant part in their decision making process, but how unwise it seems to try and publicly humiliate a Labour leader who might one day hold the political authority to impose legal regulations on the entire British media, including of course the Daily Mail.
The British mainstream media has never really been about educating or informing the masses. It's almost always been about exerting influence over the British people, making the political case and trying to shape public opinion, either through honest discourse or sometimes via deliberate misrepresentation. Ironically perhaps, Daily Mail readers probably consider themselves to be better informed than say a Sun, Daily Express or Daily Mirror reader, presumably on the basis of the "news" content that the paper claims to contain, or that they believe it contains. Nothing could be further from the truth of course, as the Daily Mail is first and foremost little more than a carrier for the views and opinions of its wealthy owner, its editors and writers, rather than a properly informed news publication. If you want one of those, then you need to pay a bit more for one of the quality papers, or better still use the power of the internet, which offers virtually everything you need, including completely unbiased reporting, all in one place.