From what we can gather Ralph Miliband was a loving and devoted father. He was also an unrepentant advocate of Communism – that evil doctrine that has been such a cause of poverty, tyranny and murder. His son Ed has difficulty reconciling these two aspects of his father and so has decided to take it out on the Daily Mail. Mr Miliband jnr has denounced them for “lies” for a piece which said that Miliband snr “hated” Britain.
I suppose Mr Miliband snr may well have loved Britain regarding the countryside or steak and kidney pie or the weather. Yet as a totalitarian it was impossible for him to celebrate British freedom. He did not believe in free speech or freedom of the press. He wanted to destroy the monarchy, Parliament and rule of law. He favoured our enemies over our allies. The Falklands victory was to him a defeat.
Ralph Miliband felt the Labour Party was far too concerned to be patriotic. In this essay in 1983 he wrote:
Labourism has always had a strong national vocation. The Labour Party has regularly been accused by its Conservative opponents of being ‘unpatriotic’, heedless of British interests abroad, unconcerned with British ‘greatness’, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. Labour Governments have always pursued foreign and defence policies (and in an earlier epoch colonial policies) which did not greatly differ from those of Conservative Governments – not perhaps very surprisingly since Labour Governments relied on the civil servants and military advisers they inherited from the Conservatives.
In a much earlier essay he denounced the class system and the monarchy:
Plutocrats have been absorbed into the aristocracy; and the aristocracy has gone into business. The former have supplied the cash;
the latter the cachet. Together, united, intertwined, highly class-conscious, they constitute Britain’s social and economic power elite. Its members belong to the same exclusive clubs, meet at the same country houses, take their holidays in the same exclusive resorts, meet at the same banquets, and send their children to the same exclusive schools. And it is also from their ranks that are recruited the Queen’s courtiers and the Palace entourage. The men around the Throne are not only tweedy, decadent backwoods aristocrats. They are men of affairs, at home in the City, in the world of industry and money-lending.
Why should Ralph Miliband’s views be of any relevance? The difficulty for Ed Miliband is that he leaves the impression that he regards them as mistaken in detail, that he was in sympathy with the general thrust. This followed Ed’s description of that apologist for Stalinism, Eric Hobsbawm, as a “lovely man.” It may well have been that Mr Hobsbawm was charming in his personal relationships but his defence of mass murder was appalling. Some in the Labour Party have pointed to coverage in the Daily Mail in the 1930s praising Oswald Mosley. That was also appalling. Fascism and Communism are twins. But Mr Hobsbawm and Mr Miliband snr persisted in their support for Communism.
It is admirable to show loyalty to your relatives. The difficulty comes in the distinction between the personal and the political.