Comment: There’s nothing more British than hating the establishment

Ralph Miliband's determination to bring down the establishment does not mean he hated Britain. There is nothing more British than taking on those in power.

Ken Loach got it about right. The chaotic Olympics opening ceremony portrayed a country shaped by countless versions of the same old story: change driven by challenges to those in charge.

It is centuries of struggle between the dominant and the dominated which has shaped Britain's political institutions and class. The establishment has always been a part of that. But so has rejecting it, too.

This is why Geoffrey Levy's already infamous article denigrating Ralph Miliband as "the man who hated Britain" is so misguided.

He accuses the Marxist professor of having a "giant-sized social chip on his shoulder" because of Miliband's "tirade" against the bastions of power contained in a letter to the sociologist C. Wright Mills.

Miliband despises all aspects of the old boy network, from "Eton and Harrow" to "the Church", and its values like "equality is bunk" and "strengthen the House of Lords".

The accusation is this rejection of Britain's ruling elite somehow means he must hate the country.

But wait. There are people today who point to our prime minister's Eton education, to the Church's opposition to gay marriage and the Conservatives' successful derailing of Lords reform who are deeply angry.

These people are unhappy with the state of the country. It doesn't mean they hate it.

In the same way, 'Britain can do better than this' does not mean 'I reject Britain'. Let alone 'I hate Britain'.

The terrible error of the Mail's 'hate' accusation about Ralph Miliband is a confusion between his critique of the status quo and his preferred alternative.

It's possible to share his rejection of the establishment without automatically jumping to the conclusion that the only real alternative is to establish a Soviet in Whitehall.

David Miliband and Ed Miliband imbibed much of their father's sensibilities about Britain. But both were members of the New Labour government which based its electoral success on Tony Blair's attempt to move on from socialist solutions.

If anything, New Labour only failed politically because it went too far the other way. It allowed the impulses of capitalism to run unchecked and creating the conditions for a damaging bubble to develop, grow and, finally, burst.

Now Ed Miliband is shackled with that legacy.

He is likely to be denied an overall majority at the next general election because of public distrust about his party's economic credibility.

And the Mail's article is part of the right-wing media's attempt to reinforce the Conservative message: that Miliband has a subversive agenda and is taking Labour back to the old days.

It is itself proof that the establishment which Ralph Miliband railed against in the 1950s remains alive and kicking to this day.

Attacking Ed Miliband's father is an attempt by the right-wing press to help the right-wing government against an emerging left-wing alternative.

You don't have to be a Marxist to believe there are powerful forces of conservatism in this country which defend the undefendable – and that it takes good journalism and the scandals that follow to achieve change.

Take phone-hacking: a subculture of the broader press permitted to continue because of the unshackled power of Britain's media giants.

Or MPs' expenses: another set of bad habits allowed to slowly drift into something abhorrent because the powerful – in this case, the group of people who make our country's laws – had absolutely no interest in reform until they were shamed into doing so.

The stakes have been raised in recent years precisely because these two scandals target the two groups which had escaped censure.

That dual sensitivity has created the ugly spectacle of press regulation via the dubious royal charter.

This has very little to do with the establishment versus the people. It's one part of the establishment struggling to muzzle another part – and watching it take place is not at all edifying.

There is no clearer proof, in fact, that Ed Miliband is not his father's son. That he does not want to install a quasi-Marxist state over us all.

Ralph wanted to bring down the establishment.

His son, by entering into a stitch-up deal with the coalition on press regulation, has demonstrated he is already very much a part of it.