Ed Miliband shouldn't waste his time on the Daily Mail

Ed Miliband remains angry over the attack on his late father
Ed Miliband remains angry over the attack on his late father
Adam Bienkov By

Ed Miliband's response to the Daily Mail's attack on his late father is well-written, dignified and makes me feel a great deal more favourably towards the author.

Miliband clearly loved his dad. My own dad died nine years ago now and I still find it painful to think about his death. Neither I nor my dad are public figures, so I can only imagine how painful it must have been to suffer the kind of hatchet job on his father's memory, Miliband has suffered over the past few days.

His decision to take them on is ultimately pointless however. The Daily Mail does not do apologies, it does not do changes of heart and it does not to grace under fire.

In 2008 it's then sister paper the Evening Standard ran a venomous campaign against Ken Livingstone. Among perfectly legitimate criticisms of his record as mayor, they also accused him of being an anti-semite and falsely claimed his election campaign was being run by a "suicide bomb backer". As the daily attacks continued, the former mayor decided to take the newspaper group on.

Complaints to the press complaints commission were sent, essay-long responses were drafted and individual journalists were condemned. It was totally counter productive. Far from changing their coverage, the Mail group instead decided to double, triple and quadruple down on their attacks. They will do exactly the same with Miliband.

The Labour leader's decision to campaign on phone hacking and endorse the Leveson report was always going to make him enemy number one on Fleet Street. He should just accept that fact and let them do their worst.

Newspapers are a wounded beast. The Mail's readership alone is down around 15% since the last general election. And while their online audience is growing, the move towards paywalls, means the overall influence of the press continues to decline.

It's understandable that Miliband should want to correct the record on his father. Most of the people reading his response, and seeing him speak about it, will also have great sympathy for his desire to take the paper on.

But if Miliband is wise, he won't waste any more time trying to appeal to Paul Dacre's good nature. If the Labour leader wants a good audience, he needs to go elsewhere.


Load in comments
Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.