For an attempt to vindicate the essence of the Daily Mail's assault on Ralph Miliband's reputation without being swayed by anything so scrupulous as a concern for basic factual accuracy, you might like to take a look at this piece from Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph. As often with this sort of exercise, how it works is that a simple dichotomous division of the world is made, with dark on one side of it and light on the other and without any shades in between. Thus Miliband's record is integrated into a good guys versus bad guys framework, and he is situated on the wrong side of it; 'he was one of the bad guys'. How so? Because...
Until that point [the fall of the Berlin Wall] the struggle between freedom and communism defined the world my generation grew up in. Our view was shaped by a deadly struggle to see off the threat of red tyranny. It was a world far removed from the more consensual politics we enjoy now. Before 1989 the divide between the good guys and bad guys was clear, because the bad guys were out to do us in.
It isn't that Ralph Miliband hated Britain.
But the key point surely is that Marxism hated - hates - Britain. It hates our institutions, our economic model, our democracy, our independent media and our freedoms.
Miliband was, for Brogan, 'on the wrong side of the only argument that mattered', that between freedom and tyranny.
The small complicating factor in all this is that Ralph was never a Stalinist or an apologist for Stalinism. He was - consistently and unambiguously - a democratic socialist, part of that independent left from which a later post-Stalinist generation learned that socialism must be democratic or it is nothing, forever lost. For Brogan to commend values like democracy, freedom, independent media, and at the same time attempt to trash the record of a writer who was himself attached to those values as a socialist, just because he (Miliband) fell on the wrong side of the line capitalism/socialism, shows what a narrow conception of democracy and freedom is at work in his own (Brogan's) thinking. On one side, in other terms, there are the good guys - and then everyone else is a Stalinist. But Ralph Miliband wasn't, and one of his merits was precisely being able to see that the world is a more complicated place than can be divided as Brogan would prefer. (Thanks: RB.)