Ralph Miliband and why the love of Britain comes in more than just one form

If you do not love the monarchy, then you are no patriot, the article implies 

Share
Related Topics

The assumption underlying the Daily Mail’s extraordinary attack on Ed Miliband’s father is that he cannot have loved Great Britain because he was a Marxist. Ralph Miliband is accused of hating the country that gave him sanctuary, and Ed is accused of being unfit to be Prime Minister because he admires and defends his dead father.

In a sense, we can blame Marx and Engels for writing in the Communist Manifesto that “the working men have no country”. What they meant was that in the 1840s, factory workers were so impoverished and exploited that they had no stake in whatever country was their home. True or false, that observation did not prevent vast numbers of working men, and indeed some revolutionary Marxists, from fighting with great bravery when called to arms.

The Labour politician, Denis Healey, a member of the British communist party from 1937-40, served in North Africa and took part in the invasion of Sicily and the Anzio landings. His rival, Tony Benn, who was never a Marxist but was the person whose leftism belatedly drew Ralph Miliband into the Labour Party, saw war service in the RAF.

Communist organiser Bert Ramelson, was a tank commander who fought at Tobruk, was captured by the Germans, escaped from a POW camp and joined the partisans in Italy. The list goes on.

The left is also frequently accused of complicity in the appeasement of Hitler, for which we can largely blame George Lansbury, a Christian pacifist, who was leader of the Labour Party when Hitler came to power: but it was precisely because he opposed rearmament that he was replaced by Clement Attlee in 1935.

In the Mail’s tirade, Ralph Miliband’s war record was dismissed as it speculated that he was fighting against Nazis rather than for Britain. The proof, it argued, is in some ill-chosen words he wrote in his diary when he was 17 and in his contempt for the British class system.

If you do not love the monarchy, do not want to preserve the House of Lords, and did not rejoice with Margaret Thatcher over victory in the Falklands, you are no patriot, the article implies.

But patriotism takes many forms. You can love British culture and liberty and the beauty of these islands, while despising the way wealth and power is distributed: or you can be like Vere Harmsworth, father of the current owner of the Daily Mail, who managed the newspaper from his Paris home, where he did not need to pay British taxes, or like Vere’s grandfather, Harold, whose patriotism shone in a 1934 Daily Mail editorial called “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” and in the letter he wrote congratulating Hitler on annexing Czechoslovakia.

Alternatively, if you wanted to lower the tone, you could say that Harold Harmsworth’s Nazi sympathies are an “evil legacy” that makes the present Lord Rothermere unfit to own a newspaper. Fortunately, not many people in the UK are that ignorant.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz