Oh the Daily Mail have excelled themselves this week. Their declaration of Miliband Snrs hatred of his country, mostly based on some stuff he wrote in his teenage diary, is both nasty and frankly daft.
You can’t judge anyone on anything they said at 17. I have my diaries from that age. They are full of depressing poetry, lengthy heartfelt letters to the object of my unrequited affection, complaints about spots, and generally self centered, self pitying drivel. Please don’t say that if one of my children becomes of public interest, they will be denigrated by a dodgy rhyme I wrote in my youth. The very fact that Mr Miliband Snrs contained something more intellectual than this is quite impressive, perhaps if they had printed the following page it would have been an ode to the woes of the white head.
I actually was pretty much a Marxist at 17, despite it not really getting much of an airing in my diary. I was Vice President of my student union, a member of Student Unity ( an ultra left wing division of the student union) and pretty much hated everything my country’s government stood for. Yes. I hated my country’s government, but not my country. Disagreeing with the morals/standards the government of that time did not mean I didn’t love my country. Of course I did/do, not in a particularly flag waving fashion, but it is my home, and I love it’s crumbly, grey cardigan-ness.
Love for ones country should not be muddied by aspirations for it’s bettering. I am one of those lucky mums who felt the surge of love for my kids as soon as they were expelled from my womb. That love did not mean I wanted them to stay as they were at that moment forever. No, I wanted them to grow and improve and learn about the world and sharing and love and kindness and maths and etc. Can you not love your country while wanting the same things for it as you would for your child- learning, growing, becoming better than it is. And of course at the point the diary entry The Mail is talking about was written, it was not Mr Milibands country, it was to become his home at a future point, and as has been much written, went on to fight for this country as a member of the Navy.
Also seventeen year olds are notoriously idealistic, from my own experience I have found my views have tempered over time. I am still left wing, but more aware of the constrains reality and human nature put on society, and have come reluctantly to accept that perhaps the ideals of communism (not to be confused with the way communism has worked in practice) don’t work in the real world.
To try to judge a man, based on the scribblings of his father as a seventeen year old seems ludicrous to me, let alone irrelevant, as Ed is not his father. It is also plain disrespectful to a dead man who, on account of being dead, has no hand in current politics. As for the Daily Mails own nazi promoting past, are we to judge it on that? (Well, a little bit, yes…)
Meanwhile Cameron has a bread maker, and an equally dead father who didn’t pay his taxes. Some may say that means he didn’t love his country either….
Anyhow. I am rambling. I don’t even read The Mail generally, but I did think Ed Milibands reply was full of valid arguments. I am scared by the influence such newspapers have in our politics. I don’t expect impartiality, I do expect legitimate argument. And this was not one.