This week has seen the strained relationships between some of Britain’s newspapers and the politicians who want to regulate them. In a new series, the EJO presents a summary of the main developments through a series of web links, with a brief explanation.
The fight began a week ago when The Daily Mail wrote a story about opposition leader Ed Miliband, with the headline “Miliband’s father hated Britain.” Miliband’s father was a Jewish refugee who fought for Britain in World War 2 and became later prominent Marxist academic.Ed Miliband, unsurprisingly, protested about this insult to his father and the Daily Mail agreed to let him write a response to the piece.
The Daily Mail ran his article but also published two more articles saying they allowed Miliband the right to reply but that they still believed they are right and that Miliband’s father did hate Britain.
Ed Miliband is not a well loved politician, but many feel the insults thrown at his father are unnecessary. Even Conservative parliamentarians, including Zac Goldsmith, criticized the Daily Mail.
Twitter users joined in the debate, using the #mydadhatedbritain hashtag to parody The Daily Mail’s arguments.
The controversy also helped remind people that the Daily Mail once supported Hitler. Viscount Rothermere, great grandfather of the newspaper’s current owner, wrote an article in praise of facism under the headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts.”
Some of those criticising the Daily Mail have also launched a campaign to stop companies advertising in the Daily Mail. This is the same type of campaign that ultimately led to the closure of Murdoch’s paper News of The World.
Today the Daily Mail’s sister paper Mail on Sunday admitted that one of its reporters had also attended a memorial service for one of Miliband’s uncles, and had asked grieving relatives to comment on the whole case. In direct contrast to the belligerent stance taken by Dacre, Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig apologised straightaway and suspended two journalists.
The Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has been the most vocal and powerful opponent of the UK government’s attempts to introduce a government-led regulation of the press, after the Leveson inquiry and backed a set of softer proposals instead.
On Wednesday 9 October, British parliamentarians meet to consider the proposals on press regulation Dacre supports.
The whole story has again put newspapers like the Daily Mail who are in the lead of the fight against regulation against politicians who support it. It also raises questions about the future of Paul Dacre, the editor who once made politicians quake in fear, and seemed invincible.