Friday, 4 October 2013
What did Paul Dacre's father do in the war?
Paul Dacre, the editor in chief of The Daily Mail, questioned the patriotism of Ed Miliband, because of the Marxism of his father, Ralph Miliband. In the original article, Geoffrey Levy claimed that: “Quickly learning English, he (Miliband) got a place at the London School of Economics (LSE), which had then moved temporarily to Cambridge to avoid the bombing, and there he was taught politics by Harold Laski, a giant of Labour's Left, whom some Tories considered to be a dangerous Marxist revolutionary. Laski was Miliband's mentor, his inspiration, the figure who encouraged his growing interest in Karl Marx.”
Clearly Levy knows nothing about the teachings of Laski as he was a left-wing opponent of Marxism. Laski was indeed a great influence on Miliband and most of his students. Miliband later recalled: "We did not feel overwhelmed by his knowledge and learning, and we did not feel so because he did not know the meaning of condescension. We never felt compelled to agree with him, because it was so obvious that he loved a good fight and did not hide behind his years and experience."
Miliband was deeply influenced by Laski but the two men often clashed about politics. Miliband went to see Laski in December, 1942: "He was very friendly with me.... As soon as I came in he started to talk to me about the need to judge things for myself and not only through the eyes of Karl Marx etc." He then added: "Sorry to talk like this, but I am talking like a father; at least that's how I feel towards you."
Ralph Miliband clearly enjoyed studying under Laski but he was very keen to join the struggle against fascism. Unlike, the owner of the Daily Mail who had been sending letters of praise to Hitler concerning his foreign policy as late as 1939, just a few weeks before the outbreak of the war.
Miliband was volunteered to be parachuted into
to work with the resistance. In January 1942 he passed his medical examination,
but was told that he could not "voluntarily join until authorisation was
sought from the Polish authorities (as he was not yet a Belgian
national)." Miliband now asked Harold Laski for help in joining the armed
forces. "A few days later, I had a letter from A.V. Alexander, the First
Lord of the Admiralty, telling me that he was pleased to hear from Laski about
my wish to join the Navy and advising me to go and see a vice-admiral at the
Admiralty, who would fix it up. Which he did." Belgium
Now we know what Ed Miliband’s father did in the war, what about Paul Dacre’s father’s war record. Peter Dacre was eligible for conscription by his birthday on 8th June 1943. Did he serve alongside Miliband in June 1944 when he was involved in the D-Day landings in
? Miliband wrote that this was "the biggest
operation in history" and he "would not miss it for anything". No, Peter Dacre was too busy working as a show
business reporter for the Sunday Express? Normandy
Now, as far as I know, show business reporters were not considered to be important enough in the war effort that it was a “reserved” occupation. Probably more important was his relationship with Lord Beaverbrook, the owner of Express Newspapers. Beaverbrook, another newspaper baron who urged appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s, was a member of the war cabinet. Did Beaverbrook use his influence to keep Peter Dacre out of the armed forces?