Spartacus Blog

What did Paul Dacre's father do in the war?

Friday, 4th October 2013

John Simkin

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 Harold 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 Adolf 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 Belgium 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."

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 Normandy? 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?

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?


Other Posts

The Allied Plot to Kill Lenin (7th March, 2014)

Was Rasputin murdered by MI6? (24th February 2014)

Winston Churchill and Chemical Weapons (11th February, 2014)

Pete Seeger and the Media (1st February 2014)

Should history teachers use Blackadder in the classroom? (15th January 2014)

Why did the intelligence services murder Dr. Stephen Ward? (8th January 2014)

Solomon Northup and 12 Years a Slave (4th January 2014)

The Angel of Auschwitz (6th December 2013)

The Death of John F. Kennedy (23rd November 2013)

Adolf Hitler and Women (22nd November 2013)

New Evidence in the Geli Raubal Case (10th November 2013)

Murder Cases in the Classroom (6th November 2013)

Major Truman Smith and the Funding of Adolf Hitler (4th November 2013)

Unity Mitford and Adolf Hitler (30th October 2013)

Claud Cockburn and his fight against Appeasement (26th October 2013)

The Strange Case of William Wiseman (21st October 2013)

Robert Vansittart's Spy Network (17th October 2013)

British Newspaper Reporting of Appeasement and Nazi Germany (14th October 2013)

Paul Dacre, The Daily Mail and Fascism (12th October 2013)

Wallis Simpson and Nazi Germany (11th October 2013)

The Activities of MI5 (9th October 2013)

The Right Club and the Second World War (6th October 2013)

What did Paul Dacre's father do in the war? (4th October 2013)

Ralph Miliband and Lord Rothermere (2nd October 2013)