Matthew Norman on Monday: Let’s celebrate the Mail’s rampant multiculturalism

We are all welcome to the paper's lighting of the Chanukah freedom lights


Our thanks to Alex Brummer, the Daily Mail’s city editor, for a party invitation. Alex has been writing about the “deplorable” suggestion, from The Jewish Chronicle and elsewhere, that his title’s depiction of Ralph Miliband as an outsider whose loyalties lay beyond his adoptive land had a whiff of an ancient antisemitic trope. His argument that if he, an observant Jew, chooses to work there, the accusation is as persuasive as his later claim, in a radio interview, that those of us on liberal papers who loath its treatment of the Palestinians “demonise” not only Israel but “the broader Jewish community”.

Since that homage to Mad Mel Phillips was elegantly skewered in a leader article on Saturday, let us move to the invite. “The next time someone wants to accuse the paper of antisemitism,” Alex writes, “I have an invitation for them. Join me in my office with other members of staff – Jewish and non-Jewish – as we light the Chanukah freedom lights. That is part of our lives on a news floor where different religions and cultures are celebrated.” Ah yes, that rampant Mail multiculturalism yet again. You wouldn’t believe the excitement during Eid, while editor Paul Dacre loves to don his trusty dhoti during Diwalhi. Anyway, if any of us pitch up on 27 November to see Alex light the Menorah on the eve of Chanukah, the do will need shifting to a larger function room. Perhaps Ed Miliband himself, in a stab at bridge-building, will lead a candle-lit procession through the newsroom for a glass of kosher wine – preferably the ribald Palwin No 11 (b) – in Mr Dacre’s more capacious office?

Associated editor brothers at war

Apologies for last week’s error when, in wondering why the Mail on Sunday embarrassed Michael Gove by reporting his trip to a £2,500 per week Austrian fat farm so soon after  his wife became a Daily Mail columnist, I stated that the internecine strife that plagues political parties is unimaginable between brother editors at Associated. Since then, Mr Dacre has prominently featured a report on the MoS raid on the memorial service, quoting the phrase “terrible lapse of judgment” in the headline. Yesterday, MoS guv’nor Geordie Greig unleashed Peter Hitchens, a reformed Trot, to ridicule the “man who hated Britain” smear. This warfare is as unseemly now as it was unforeseeable then, but sorry for misleading you all the same.

Subtle message from a man of the people

While hopes of a Dacre-Greig rapprochement remain high (at Alex’s Chanukah bash, if not before), it is harder to imagine  David Cameron making up with Adam Afriyie, who plans to table an amendment demanding a pre-election referendum on EU membership on 23 October (the anniversary of El Alamein; such subtle messaging) next year. Adam, the plutocratic  “British Obama” of the Tory back benches, once revealed how his family journeys from Westminster to the Windsor residence each Friday, “when our whole entourage of nannies and helpers transfer.” However upset the PM may be at having the sincerity of his 2017 referendum promise derided by this leadership plotter, he would be most unwise to disregard Adam’s mass appeal as an insurgent man of the people in the Obama ’08 mould.

Patrician? The Tories have it covered

Wading fearlessly into the Ralph Miliband quagmire to defend the Daily Mail, meanwhile, is Ross Clark. Writing in The Times. Ross contends that “it speaks volumes that the Conservatives who have joined the attack on the Mail ... are the most patrician of them.” In citing Michael Heseltine, he forgets his namesake Alan Clark’s dismissal of Hezza as one who bought his own furniture. Ross also neglects to mention that another leading Mail critic motivated by “snobby distaste for the lower middle classes” is the Thatcher minister John Moore, the son of a Kentish Town factory worker, later a pub landlord. Tories come no more patrician than that.

Silence from the Speaker

Also unfairly traduced on crude class grounds is John Bercow, dismissed as “an arrogant toff” by the woman whose car he allegedly hit outside a restaurant. The Speaker, who must have inherited the driving gene from the maternal side, is the son of a Jewish cabbie from Edgware. I haven’t seen John, silent on the Miliband/ antisemitism issue as befits his office, since we were fellow students in the same Bar Mitzvah class at Finchley Reform synagogue long ago. But if he can spare an hour or two to attend Alex Brummer’s Chanukah party, it would be a real joy to catch up on 27 November.

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