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Labour leader defends late father in newspaper

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GREGORY KATZ | October 1, 2013 06:07 AM EST | AP


LONDON — A war of words between Britain's Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and the conservative Daily Mail newspaper has moved beyond politics into more personal territory with a blistering attack on Miliband's late father.

In a blaring headline over the weekend the newspaper called Ralph Miliband "The man who hated Britain" and warned that everyone who loves the country should be disturbed by his beliefs since they are having such an influence on his son.

It accuses Ed Miliband of embracing socialism as a way to pay tribute to the philosophy of his father, a prominent left-wing academic.

Ed Miliband on Tuesday responded by writing a column in the newspaper asserting that his father had loved Britain and fought for it on the shores of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. He said the Daily Mail had been grossly unfair to his father, who died in 1994.

"Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in World War II," he wrote.

He described how his father arrived in Britain as a 16-year-old Jew fleeing the Nazi assault on Belgium: "Like most refugees, the security of our country was really important to him. And like some refugees, he owed his life to it. So my Dad loved Britain, he served Britain, and he taught both David (former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Ed's brother) and me to do the same."

The newspaper article opens with a description of Ralph Miliband standing in front of communist economist Karl Marx's grave at London's Highgate Cemetery and swearing lifelong fidelity to the workers' cause; it concludes by describing how the senior Miliband is now buried "just a dozen yards" from Marx.

"Meanwhile, his son Red Ed – whose 1.6 million pound ($2.6 million) house is less than a mile away – talks of Socialism being a key word for the next Labour government. Perhaps the ground is indeed now being prepared."