London (AFP) – Labour party leader Ed Miliband on Tuesday hit back at a Daily Mail journalist's claims that his father "hated Britain" and that he wants to impose Marxist policies in homage to the late left-wing academic.
The newspaper agreed to publish Miliband's response to an article written for Saturday's edition by Geoffrey Levy in which the journalist quoted extracts from a diary kept by the 17-year-old Ralph Miliband.
Levy highlighted an entry written during World War II in which he said: "The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world...you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are."
But Ed Miliband slammed the article as being "of a different order" of criticism to the usual political sniping, adding it was "absurd" to draw damning conclusions from the diary of a teenager.
"I know they say 'you can't libel the dead' but you can smear them," he wrote.
"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 the Second World War or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a 'grave socialist'.
"The Daily Mail sometimes claims it stands for the best of British values of decency," he added.
"But something has really gone wrong when it attacks the family of a politician.
"Whatever else is said about my dad's political views, Britain was a source of hope and comfort for him, not hatred."
Ralph Miliband, who died in 1994 aged 70, fled Belgium aged 16 to escape the Nazis before joining the Royal Navy and fighting as part of the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944.
Ed Miliband said his father would have been amused by the paper's claims that the Labour leader was part of a "sinister" plan to bring back Marxist policies.