Miliband’s principles trump Dacre’s aggression

Twenty seven years ago, a soap star called Nick Berry released a song called “Every Loser Wins”, which went on to be a smash hit. At the time Ed Miliband was a student at Haverstock Comprehensive School and, like every teenager, probably clashed regularly with his parents.
Yet it is his late father, in particular the Daily Mail’s attack on his late father as someone who “hated Britain”, that has presented Miliband with potential to turn from being seen as a loser into someone who has achieved what few even dare to dream of, let alone achieve, a decisive victory over Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail.
The Labour leader’s full frontal attack on the Mail is not a political move. In politics – indeed in all areas of life – Dacre’s Mail is seen a bit like the tattooed thug who has cut you up at the lights: not worth challenging because it will end up worse for you. I once had to persuade a client to stop his lawyers issuing writs against the Mail – not because they weren’t right or wouldn’t win, but because the long term implications of being seen as an “enemy” by the Mail were too negative.
It is not, either, an indication of an emboldened Miliband, buoyed by a good party conference, getting onto the front foot. He may be emboldened. He may have had a good party conference. But this isn’t a calculated move.
No, this this is an emotional attack with Miliband sticking up for what he thinks is right.
And because of this he is generating cross party support. David Cameron was mildly supportive, Frances Maude more directly supportive and Nick Clegg very much in Miliband’s camp, not least because he’s been at the wrong end of a Mail smear campaign himself.
Today Miliband successfully challenged The Mail on Sunday over its decision to send a journalist to his uncle’s memorial service. MoS editor Geordie Grieg said: “The reporter was sent without my knowledge.” As someone who used to work at the MoS, I’m not going to go into the plausibility of that denial, save to say that it creates clear blue water between Grieg and Dacre. And if the reports are true that Lord Rothermere, proprietor of the two papers, is livid, this positions Grieg in a good place to be Dacre’s successor.
What is now created is the distinct possibility of the following:
• Dacre will have to apologise over the attack on Ralph Miliband;
• Miliband will be able to press for much tougher regulation of the press, giving him the upper hand in this debate over Cameron;
• Miliband’s approval rating will improve because he is seen as principled, passionate and tough;
• The Mail’s iron grip over British politics is loosened;
• Dacre might find that retiring to a cottage is more attractive that it seemed a few days ago.
As a well-read individual, Miliband probably recalls Aesop’s saying: “He that always gives way to others will end in having no principles of his own. ” As a child of the 1980s though, he will know that “Every Loser Wins”.

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