One of the country’s top Jewish journalists has rebutted claims that the Daily Mail strayed into antisemitism in its attack on the father of Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Alex Brummer, the Daily Mail’s City editor, who is also a vice-president of the Board of Deputies, went on the BBC Radio 4’s Today this morning to denounce the suggestion of antisemitism as “despicable”.
John Mann, the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, had called the paper’s depiction of Ralph Miliband a “classical age-old antisemitic smear about disloyal Jews”.
Mr Brummer said: “The Daily Mail is filled with Jewish journalists, it is one of the most pro-Israel papers on Fleet Street. In comparison with, say the Guardian or the Independent, which frequently demonise Israel and in so doing demonise the broader Jewish community, it is right behind them.”
He explained that the paper’s article on Ralph Miliband last Saturday – headlined “The Man Who Hated Britain” – had been an attempt to examine the influence of the father’s left-wing views on his son.
“The fact that Ralph Miliband may have been a Marxist, may have supported the former Soviet Union right up till now 1968, and those views were rampant in the house where Ed Miliband was brought up and were heard at the breakfast table every morning and were discussed in a very intelligent way is worth knowing about,” Mr Brummer said. “ It tells you why he has such a low regard for free enterprise.”
Mr Brummer did not mention the Board of Deputies – which has avoided comment on the row – but did refer to his having a leadership role in the Jewish community.
Labour peer Lord Glasman, a leading intellectual voice in the party, also appeared on the programme to say that the paper’s coverage had smacked of 1950s American McCarthyism.
Any criticism of the the free enterprise system had been seen as anti-American, he said. “And there was the blacklist, which meant that people who took a different view associated with workers’ causes or equalities’ cause were often accused and smeared of being Communist and there was the committee of un-American activities. The overwhelming majority of people who were blacklisted and whose careers were ruined in television and film and academia were Jewish.”
When he accused Mail editor Paul Dacre of a “1950s McCarthyite politics”, the programme’s presenter Justin Webb intervened to say that was not antisemitism.
“No, no”, Lord Glasman responded. But the roots of McCarthyism lay in “an attack on anyone who criticised America”, he said.
Ralph Miliband, who died in 1994, was one of the leading socialist thinkers in Britain in his time. He arrived as a refugee in 1940 following the Nazi invasion of Belgium and served in the Royal Navy during the War.
On Sky News the day before, former Labour party fundraiser Lord Levy said that the Mail’s coverage had created anxiety within the Jewish community.
As debate over the controversy rumbled on, Sarah Deech – the daughter of Baroness Deech – posted on Facebook: “In case you are in any doubt about the patriotism of Jewish immigrants to Britain in the 1930s: my grandfather arrived from Vienna in September ‘39.
“He wasn’t Marxist but in other respects v similar to Miliband elder. He was one of the most patriotic, royalist Brits you could ever come across. Stood up every time God Save the Queen was sung. Took my mum to the coronation.
“He and my grandmother adored Britain for letting them in and saving their lives. And their friends were like that too. This is why the Mail's accusation of divided loyalties is so vile - it simply isn't true.”