Ed Miliband embroiled in war of words with Daily Mail after Labour leader accuses newspaper of 'smearing' his late father

David Cameron and Nick Clegg back stand against the paper after 'appalling' profile of Labour leader's father Ralph

Ed Miliband was today embroiled in an extraordinary war of words with the Daily Mail after the Labour leader accused the paper of “smearing” his late father as a “man who hated Britain”.

Mr Miliband demanded a right of reply in the paper after it published what he described as an “appalling” profile of his father Ralph which was based on a diary he wrote when he was a teenager.

But although the paper agreed to publish Mr Milband’s response it did so alongside the original offending article and an editorial accusing him of attempting to trying to drive a “a hammer and sickle through the heart of the nation”.

Mr Miliband responded by accusing the paper of peddling “a lie” and trying to “besmirch and undermine” his dead father for political ends.

Interestingly the Labour leader won support for his stand against the paper from both David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Mr Clegg wrote on Twitter: “I support Ed-Miliband defending his dad. Politics should be about playing the ball, not the man, certainly not the man's family.”

Mr Cameron added: “All I know is that if anyone had a go at my father, I would want to respond very vigorously.

“There's not a day goes by that you don't think about your dad and all that he meant to you, so I completely understand why Ed would want to get his own point of view across.”

In the original article, first printed in Saturday's edition of the Daily Mail, the writer Geoffrey Levy examined the political beliefs of the Marxist academic Ralph and how these influenced his two sons.

It questioned what Ralph Miliband, who died in 1994, “really” believed in, adding “the answer should disturb everyone who loves this country”.

The spread in today's Daily Mail, including Ed Miliband's response The spread in today's Daily Mail, including Ed Miliband's response The Daily Mail had quoted the 17-year-old Ralph writing that the Englishman is a “rabid nationalist” and “you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are”.

But Mr Miliband demanded the right of reply in the paper and said fierce debate about politics did not justify “character assassination” of his father, who joined the Royal Navy and fought in the Second World War after arriving in Britain.

Mr Milband has frequently referred to his father in speeches and how his values and experiences have shaped him.

He wrote: “Like most refugees, the security of our country was really important to him. And like some refugees, he owed his life to it. So my Dad loved Britain, he served Britain, and he taught both David and me to do the same.”

Mr Miliband said he accepted politicians needed to be held to account but what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday “was of a different order altogether”.

He said: “I know they say 'you can't libel the dead' but you can smear them.

“Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in the Second World War or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a 'grave socialist'.

“The Daily Mail sometimes claims it stands for the best of British values of decency.

“But something has really gone wrong when it attacks the family of a politician - any politician - in this way. It would be true of an attack on the father of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, or mine.

“There was a time when politicians stayed silent if this kind of thing happened, in the hope that it wouldn't happen again.

“And fear that if they spoke out, it would make things worse. I will not do that. The stakes are too high for our country for politics to be conducted in this way. We owe it to Britain to have a debate which reflects the values of how we want the country run.”

But in an editorial printed alongside Mr Miliband's response the paper wrote: “We stand by every word we published on Saturday.”

It added: “Yes, as his son argues, Mr Miliband Snr may have felt gratitude for the security, freedom and comfort he enjoyed in Britain.

“But what is blindingly clear from everything that he wrote throughout his life is that he had nothing but hatred for the values, traditions and institutions - including our great schools, the Church, the Army and even the Sunday papers - that made Britain the safe and free nation in which he and his family flourished.”

The paper also attacked Mr Miliband for his support of tougher press regulation in response to the Leveson Inquiry: “If he crushes the freedom of the press, no doubt his father will be proud of him from beyond the grave, where he lies 12 yards from the remains of Karl Marx.

“But he will have driven a hammer and sickle through the heart of the nation so many of us genuinely love.”

But while Mr Cameron may have defended Mr Miliband the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt appeared to take the side of the Mail.

He said Ralph Miliband was “no friend of the free market economy” and he had never heard Ed Miliband say he supports it.

“The argument between the Mail and Ed Miliband over Ralph Miliband is something that they need to sort out the details of.

“But what I would say is that Ralph Miliband was no friend of the free market economy, he thought that was wrong, and I have never heard Ed Miliband say he supports the free market economy.

“I think the important thing for voters is to know exactly where Ed Miliband stands on these fundamental issues about our society.”

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Dev...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Trainee Recruitment C...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album