Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
A couple of weeks ago, the Daily Mail caused massive controversy after branding Ed Miliband’s late father as “the man who hated Britain”. By running a sensationalised personal attack on Ralph Miliband, they ignited a big power keg about what it is that the Daily Mail stands for. The power keg blew up in the Daily Mail’s face and it received condemnation from all of the major British political parties, with David Cameron himself also expressing sympathy for Ed Miliband. By claiming that Ralph Miliband hated Britain, they opened themselves up to accusations that it is instead them who hate Britain.
We should probably nip this first bit in the bud though: Ralph Miliband did NOT hate Britain. Yes, he was a Marxist, he was critical of the monarchy, the political establishment, nationalism, capitalism, the Falklands war, the church and the army. However, this was a man who fled Belgium when Nazi Germany invaded and he went on to serve in the Royal Navy, playing his part in defeating the Nazis and protecting Britain from the evils that was taking place on the continent. That alone should be enough to prove that Ralph Miliband did not hate Britain. On top of that, being bothered to criticise your country does show that you care about it. Ralph Miliband did NOT hate Britain.
But this does raise questions on the side of the Daily Mail, namely what sort of person do you have to be to love Britain? Does loving Britain mean you have to be pro-monarchy, pro-nationalist, pro-capitalist, pro-Falklands War, pro-Church of England and pro-army? To be honest, that question is perhaps as difficult to answer as what it means to be British. But if there’s one thing that perhaps shows you love your country, whichever country that may be, you do what you can to constructively support your country when it is doing the right things and constructively criticise your country when it’s doing wrong.
And this is where I believe that it is the Daily Mail that hates – or is at least ambivalent towards – Britain. Whilst the Daily Mail criticises Ralph Miliband for being a Marxist that actively served in the Royal Navy, the Daily Mail had actively supported Britain’s enemies. Whilst untold evils were being committed under the Nazis in Germany, the Daily Mail was courting the likes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels. Whilst the British Army – with soldiers of all ethnicities and religions – serve in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect Britain, the Daily Mail labels athletes like Mo Farah “Plastic Brits”. In fact, it has become a long-running joke that if you are either female, gay, a Muslim, unemployed, liberal, single, an immigrant or have immigrant parents, left wing, anti-monarchy or had premarital sex – the Daily Mail hates you and will run sensationalised headlines to galvanise public opinion against you. And seeing as almost all of us fall into at least one of those categories (I myself fall into five of those categories), the Daily Mail probably doesn’t like what most Britons are, and this is all a bit problematic for a paper that claims to be the true voice of Britain.
And that is the sort of thing that many critics of the Daily Mail say, including prominent commentators such as Mehdi Hasan. Whilst I can’t say I agree with Mehdi Hasan on many issues, his comment about the Daily Mail on a recent episode of Question Time pretty much hit the nail on the head. Definitely worth checking out.