Leading figures in the church and education sector have spoken out against the Daily Mail, expressing concern that its attack on Ralph Miliband amounted to antisemitism.
Anthony Seldon, headmaster of top private school Wellington College, told the Observer that the Mail's piece raised concerns about antisemitism and the paper set a very poor example to children in Britain. He said it “lacked taste and decency”.
Mr Seldon, who is also a well-regarded political biographer, said: “I think it is nasty and I worry about antisemitism. Everything that I value and try to get across to young people here, this seems to cut across. It is antithetical to everything I try to teach our pupils”.
Mr Seldon added: “If the Mail speaks for Britain, it is not a Britain I want to be part of.”
The bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev Nick Baines, also criticised the Mail for being a dangerous influence to public life.
He said: “It is not a matter of taste. It is a matter of the corruption of civic life and the public discourse to do what the Mail did with Miliband. The Mail knows exactly what it is doing. I believe it is both corrupt and dangerous.”
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop also weighed in against the paper. On the BBC quiz show Have I Got News for You, he said: “This is the man that hated Britain on the evidence of one entry in a diary when he was 16 when he'd just arrived as a refugee in this country. It was the most pathetic piece.”
But, in a column for the paper, Daily Mail city editor Alex Brummer called the allegations that the Miliband article was antisemitic “deplorable”.
Meanwhile, a YouGov poll published on Sunday has revealed the extent of the public backlash against the Mail.
Around 72 per cent of the public believe the paper was wrong to call Ralph Miliband the “man who hated Britain”, while about 69 per cent of the public in general, and 57 per cent of Daily Mail readers, think the Mail should apologise.
These figures follow an online petition made by Alastair Campbell to force Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre into a TV debate on his paper’s comments. More than 80,000 people have signed the petition so far.