Red Ed Miliband's Marxist dad

Politicians' families are best left out of politics, but the British Left has still not come to terms with its totalitarian past [See update below on how UK rightist media has shambolically fluffed it by making this personal]

Marxist Ralph Miliband
the commentator
On 1 October 2013 09:48

The Daily Mail's assault on Ed Miliband over his late father Ralph's Marxist affiliations might be thought by some to have been made in decidedly poor taste. It was possibly also stretching it a iittle when, in the Mail's editorial today, they stated that Miliband senior's grave, "lies 12 yards from the remains of Karl Marx." What if it had been 24 yards, or 100?

Nonetheless, there is in fact an issue here, though not quite the one the Mail has turned it into. Ed Miliband is obviously not a Marxist. Indeed, beyond big-state, social populism it is difficult to identify any coherent ideology that he is attached to.

But what matters is that the British, and wider West European, Left still regards its shameful past association with Marxist totalitarianism as either a non-issue or a nostalgic bit of fun.

Remember then-Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman in 2008 when she described Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as a "Hero of the Left"? According to the Black Book of Communism, Castro murdered at least 15-17,000 people -- more than five times the number killed by Augusto Pinochet. And she could blithely talk about him as a "hero"?

That same Black Book of Communism calculates that Marxist totalitarianism cost the lives of 80-100 million people in the 20th century.

Not all British Marxists were supporters of the Soviet Union, or Mao's China, or Castro's Cuba, though most were at some point in their lives. And during the Cold War, it was clear how many on the Left directed their ire not at Moscow but at Washington. How many millions of British Leftists backed or joined CND, for example?

That's the issue here, not whether Ed Miliband had a Marxist dad. An entire generation, several generations in fact, could not make up their minds whether they fully supported the open society or whether they really would have preferred something else.

It is a stain on the British Left, and it is a stain that will remain until they finally come to terms with it.

UPDATE: Woeful incompetence in the British rightist media has largely turned this whole issue into a newspaper using someone's father to attack them politically. By Wednesday morning Ed Miliband was boasting 10,000 emails in his support. This should have been about the Left generally. But by making it personal, the Left is now off the hook. Quite breathtaking...

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