The Daily Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband’s love life is really about class

Critics' focus on the Labour leader's boring love life misses the point of the piece


Critics of the Daily Mail’s front page story today on ‘Red Ed’s tangled love life’ have focussed on its attempt to make the banal seem lurid. In doing so they miss the point of the piece.

The Mail account of Ed Miliband’s love life is fantastically dull, especially when set aside that of his rival party leaders in this election. Nick Clegg famously claimed in 2008 to have slept with ‘no more than 30’ women before his marriage, while David Cameron, when asked in 2009 whether he had girlfriends before his wife, replied: ‘Lots’.

Here’s a reminder of a Mail story in 2012 on Cameron’s pre-Sam love life: (I thought since the Mail doesn’t mentioned it today, even as a comparison, I might as well.)

Cameron was known as a heartbreaker who was so single-minded, he was usually the one to end romantic relationships if he realised girls were unsuitable. […]

“According to one contemporary, […] He liked high-born ones with an artistic side to them.”

And so on. You’ll notice the tone of that piece was a bit more sympathetic, in a ‘boys will be boys’ sort of way. (The tone was maintained even after one of Cameron’s ex-girlfriends took Hamlet’s advice to Ophelia and joined a nunnery.)

But Miliband’s ‘somewhat caddish’ (not to be confused with ‘kaddish’) behaviour is not really what the Mail is trying to highlight. As a colleague said to me this morning: ‘the piece is about class’.

After listing (and emphasising) the jobs and status of Miliband’s friends and girlfriends in the story, most of whom worked in the media or politics, the author remarks:

“What a deliciously small and privileged world! One that is a million miles from the lives of millions of ordinary voters.”

And there, shining out of the piece like a gemstone in a dung-pile, is the point of the Mail’s depressing barrel-scrape today.

Many of the paper’s readers will own a house, say, or have some degree of financial security, but they have no real power in the media or politics. It’s almost too easy to point to an ‘incestuous’ clique of champagne socialists and turn this impotence, (not to say insecurity), against the Right’s political foes – easy, and in the case of the Mail, irresistible.

As with the Tory press calling Miliband a ‘north London elitist’, this is an example of what the Mail accused Miliband of yesterday, (and will again tomorrow): the politics of envy – a bogus class war against a ‘bogus’ class warrior. And this from a paper supporting the party of the rich, led by a PR man for privilege.

So ask yourself: how much contempt must a newspaper have for its readers to think they can be made to envy the love life of Ed Miliband?

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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14 Responses to “The Daily Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband’s love life is really about class”

  1. 2catlady

    why are we surprised when the DM is following orders to get nasty. Tory Dossier Urges Attacks on Ed Miliband

  2. AlanGiles

    There is absolutely nothing about Ed Miliband that anyone has cause to envy. He is a prisoner of his right wing PLP who will use the first excuse to engineer a motion of no confidence.

  3. Guest

    Yea, those evil guys to your left. Anyway!

  4. Johnny

    Most people are not bothered about this. It just shows the contempt that the right wing press and their Tory masters have for the British Public

  5. robertcp

    I do not care about the love lifes of Cameron, Clegg or Miliband. The Mail must have forgotten that the Tory leader is an old Etonian if it wanted to start a class war..


    Tony Blair was right when he said most people are middle class. There is no votes in going on about the food banks and spare bedrooms tax . Most lefties are no doubt middle class but have to give the occasional winge about the so called poor to justify their existence.

  7. AlanGiles

    Blair the “cuddly” Tory. I wonder if it has ever occurred to Jon Cruddas, the great “thinker” that the reason you don’t see an unpopular coalition being trashed in the opinion polls is because you couldn’t get a sheet of Bronco between the real Tories and the Labour PLP crypto Tories?


    There is no alternative on the offer from anyone. There are no charactors on the left anymore that draws any attention. Even after the bank crashes you do not see the masses on the streets demanding the end of capitalism. The middle classes are only concerned with their shares and low interest rates on their savings.

  9. AlanGiles

    True, James, but I think being a slightly lighter blue than the (real) Tories is hardly inspiring the voters, and the robotic Ed Miliband isn’t a drawer. That said, Blair is a confidence trickster who has long been rumbled.

  10. JoeDM

    Just tittle-tattle from the LibLabCon metripolitian bubble.

  11. Guest

    “Democracy bad, cities bad, Britain bad”

    Trio whining score!

    You’re a standard LibLabConUKIP right wing neoliberal austerite.

  12. Guest

    No Shoggoths, No Heroes.

    You don’t need a Dear Leader. You just need to demand change, and ask others to join you in doing so. The problem starts with the voting system, FPTP.

    You might have ignored Occupy, ignored the Bank of Ideas where young people got taught a lot of very useful things for activism in the future…the people out there working hard today for change…we’re out there.

    You are using the language of division, I strongly suspect you’re not with “us” in the first place. (That is, the left). You don’t want to SEE the alternatives.

  13. Guest

    Ah, you’re Tony Blair.

  14. blarg1987

    Be interesting to know the love lives of DM writers, managers and editors, did they have affairs with colleagues, and promote people based on sexual relations etc? After all it is in the public interest to know such information or stones and glass houses come to mind.

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