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Ed Miliband's apology to “those who feel offended” by his decision to pose with Rupert Murdoch’s poisonous rag The Sun cannot disguise the stupidity of the stunt.
In this case it was the people of Merseyside who demanded the Labour leader say sorry for promoting a newspaper that shamelessly slandered the victims of the Hillsborough disaster in the 25th anniversary of that tragedy.
As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave, too, we might recall that it was only the brave decision of print workers employed by The Sun to refuse to run a disgusting front page comparing miners’ leader Arthur Scargill to Hitler that tempered its disgraceful coverage of the miners’ strike.
Murdoch did not relish resistance to his whims in this way and would later launch a war to break the power of the print unions and the National Union of Journalists at Wapping which gave media tycoons total control over the content of their newspapers — paving the way for the offensive, scaremongering and often racist news coverage which disfigures so much of the British media today.
But aside from the insensitivity of the timing, why on Earth would he give The Sun free publicity in the first place?
As Mr Miliband himself pointed out in 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal broke, Murdoch already has “too much power over British public life.”
His biggest-selling newspaper is notorious for its misogyny, still treating young women as objects to be slavered over by men — displaying them topless on a daily basis despite the No More Page 3 campaign.
Despite its owner’s fondness for warmongering Labour ex-premier Tony Blair, he is no friend of the Labour Party and remains one of the labour movement’s most ruthless enemies.
His papers peddle the Tory myth that public spending rather than bankers’ greed caused the financial crisis of 2007-8 and have been consistent cheerleaders for the Con-Dem coalition’s war against the working class.
Mr Miliband acted courageously and rightly in 2011 in distancing Labour from Murdoch’s media empire and challenging the corrosive influence his companies have on British politics.
He should not now squander that legacy by assisting the US-based billionaire to portray his toxic paper as somehow patriotic.
Allegations that a Department for Work and Pensions official threatened to shut down foodbank provider the Trussell Trust show up the moral vacuum in minister Iain Duncan Smith’s empire.
Trust chairman Chris Mould has not named names and Mr Duncan Smith’s henchman Andrew Selous denies having made the threat, but it would be quite in character for a department desperate to avoid responsibility for the enormous suffering its attacks on social security are causing.
Despite PM David Cameron’s guff about a voluntary sector-led Big Society, his ministers do not appreciate the work of foodbanks since the explosion in their use sheds light on the human cost of Conservative policy.
Instead they have repeatedly denigrated the volunteers helping their victims to put food on the table, refusing to meet foodbank representatives and implying that the people who use them are not in real need.
Mr Duncan Smith ought to investigate this very serious accusation and fire any official found to have made such a threat.
If he does not, it is simply more evidence that a petty bid to stamp on the charity reflects his own cowardly attitude.
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