Ed Miliband has accused the Daily Mail of a “character assassination” against his father in an impassioned article that he has written in today’s edition of the paper.
The Labour leader said the Daily Mail had “smeared” Ralph Miliband in its “lurid” attack at the weekend, headlined “The man who hated Britain”. He argued his late father, who was Jewish, “loved Britain” because "the country had saved him from the Nazis.”
In Saturday’s Daily Mail, Geoffrey Levy wrote how Ralph Miliband’s strong Marxist views “should disturb everyone who loves this country”.
The paper quoted the then 17-year-old Ralph Miliband writing that the English were “perhaps the most nationalist people in the world” and that “you sometimes want them to lose [the war] to show them how things are”.
After tweeting indignant responses to the article over the weekend, Ed Miliband said in today’s Mail: “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 explains how his father fled Belgium as a 16-year-old and found refuge in Britain. After working and studying hard, he was accepted to university, but joined the Royal Navy instead.
He says: “He did so because 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.”
“When he thought of how many Jews had been killed, including members of our family, he felt very lucky that his boat from Belgium had come here.
“Like most refugees, the security of our country was really important to him. And like some refugees, he owed his life to it”, he added.
Mr Miliband also rejected the paper’s claims that his father’s Marxist views heavily influenced him as leader of the Labour Party .
He said: “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.
“There was a time when politicians stayed silent if this kind of thing happened. I will not do that. The stakes are too high for our country to be conducted in this way.”
But the Daily Mail stood by its original article. Accompanying Mr Miliband’s response, the paper included two lengthy editorials entitled “An evil legacy and why we won’t apologise” and “We repeat: This man DID hate Britain.”