Ed Miliband versus Paul Dacre: Going to war with the Daily Mail might actually be smart politics

Dacre's newspaper and all it represents is largely despised by the 34 per cent of the electorate the Labour leader is aiming to seduce

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The Independent Online

My colleague John Rentoul, who is right about almost every political intrigue, senses an apocalyptic battle looming between the House of Dacre and the House of Miliband.

“Going to war with Rupert Murdoch is one thing. Going to war with the Daily Mail is an additional thing. That *is* brave,” tweeted @JohnRentoul.

But while Ed Miliband is understandably outraged at the perceived smear upon his father’s patriotism, it could be argued that going to war with the Mail is actually smart politics.

The Mail and all it represents is largely despised by the 35 per cent of the electorate, the left-leaning and Lib Dem defectors, which Miliband is widely seeking to collect in order to get a foot in Downing Street after 2015.

Despite the Labour leader breaking bread with Paul Dacre, the Mail’s editor-in-chief, the paper remains implacably hostile to the Miliband project and cannot ever be encouraged to take a more emollient position.

Even during the height of Tony Blair’s courting of right-of-centre newspapers, winning over The Sun and the Times, Dacre despised the Blairs and what he considered their nouveau-riche vulgarity Although, oddly Dacre kept a candle for Gordon Brown’s dour “Presbyterian conscience”.

It is doubtful whether Miliband would have similarly gone to war with a Murdoch paper – if a News UK title would even have published such an inflammatory attack - since he may yet hope to win a fair hearing from those influential publications.

But Alastair Campbell, who used to finesse relations with right-wing papers for Blair, is roaring Ed on in his death battle with Dacre because there can be no downside for the Labour leader, as long as he can stomach the relentless attacks on his family and background.

The question Ed might ask is will his brother now stop writing cosy articles about the Miliband’s childhood for the Mail group? As blogger Richard Osley points out, David Miliband pocketed £2,000 a go for wistful articles such as this one in the Mail on Sunday following Ed’s Labour leadership victory.