No matter how many editors have sat in the chair in the intervening years, and no matter that we are now three generations of Rothermeres further on, the Daily Mail is forever tarnished with the pro-Nazi utterances of the first Viscount Rothermere, and its support of the Third Reich, even after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. And with the Hitler support came blatant anti-Semitism.
No I'm not f***ing prejudiced, c***
So it should have surprised no-one that the assault on the memory of Ralph Miliband was started under the by-line of Geoffrey “Lickspittle” Levy, or that the deputy editor wheeled out to defend the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre on BBC Newsnight was Jon Steafel: this is a known Mail tactic. They can’t be anti-Semitic, you see, because the hack writing the attack is Jewish.
But this has not convinced the usually conservative Jewish Chronicle (JC), which opened up on the Mail yesterday in some style, typified by an Op-Ed from Martin Bright: “I have always been wary of calling this dark undercurrent ‘antisemitism’, but the Daily Mail’s leader about the Milibands and Marxism (headline: ‘An evil legacy and why we won’t apologise’) dripped with the nastiest kind of prejudice” he told.
Simon Rocker noted that John Mann, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, called the Mail attack a “classical age-old antisemitic smear about disloyal Jews”. He further noted that “Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said that the newspaper was ‘playing with fire’”. Maurice Glasman saw echoes of McCarthyism, which had been “overwhelmingly anti-Jewish”.
Linda Grant observed “I do not know exactly what Paul Dacre’s intentions were when he passed this story, or whether Geoffrey Levy volunteered it or was put up to hit by his bosses, but bursting forth out of it ... has been a revival of the ‘Jews can’t be trusted because of their divided loyalties’ genre of anti-Semitism”. Jonathan Freedland talked of feeling “queasy at the Daily Mail’s attack”.
That the attack being discussed appeared in the Daily Mail just makes it worse, given the track record of the first Viscount Rothermere, and thanks to Trove’s archive of digitised newspapers, we can read his thoughts, such as this from September 1933, when he spoke in praise of Hitler, telling “This nation [Germany] of 65 millions stands united behind him as never before”.
Then he talked of “alien elements”: “In the last days of the pre-Hitler regime there were 20 times as many Jewish government officials in Germany as had existed before the war. Israelites of international attachments were insinuating themselves into key positions in the German administrative machine”. Anyone who wonders why some feel “queasy” at the Mail’s Miliband attack need look no further.
The JC has not voiced its concerns for nothing. Paul Dacre remains in the mire.