Whoever invented the Daily Mail

by Harry on October 2, 2013

ought to be cut down to size.
Pulped and reduced to a nauseous juice,
and dried out at flattened ’til ready for use,
Then covered in newsprint and lies.

And whoever edits it could do with the same treatment.

If, contrary to the truth, Ralph Miliband had had any sympathy with Britain’s enemies during WWII, of course, the Daily Mail would no doubt have offered him a column!



christian_h 10.02.13 at 3:11 am

Disgusting slugs.


Tabasco 10.02.13 at 4:02 am

One can only admire Ed Milliband for standing up to the gutter press. He must be the first British political leader since – who? – to do so.


js. 10.02.13 at 4:49 am

Oh my. I got through about a third of the article, and then I had to shut down my computer in utter disgust. Frankly surprised they didn’t find some more ways to weasel in “immigrant” and “Jewish” in the first four paragraphs. Ugh.


S. Baron-Cohen 10.02.13 at 6:01 am

Usually if I read the Mail it’s just for the Daily FeMail starlets and such.

Anyway, I don’t see what was wrong with the aforelinked article. I found it educative and intriguing. (I am now eager to learn more!) Also, I liked the pictures.

Am I missing some sort of massive badness?


Adam Roberts 10.02.13 at 7:06 am

During the Labour conference a Mail piece described Miliband’s policies as being ‘as crooked as his nose.’ Now, he does have a slightly wonky nose, as an individual, and I don’t doubt that the paper, if challenged, would say that’s all they meant. Nonetheless it really looks like a sentence out of Der Stürmer from the 30s.


Philip 10.02.13 at 8:33 am

S. Baron-Cohen, the headline firstly – I might disagree with the views of Ralph Milliband, as portrayed in the article, but am certainly not disturbed and ‘love’ Britain. Using the quote from when he was 17 seems especially unfair and to me doesn’t show that he hated Britain at all.

‘The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world . . . you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the Continent . . . To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation.’

I also liked this bit as showing how he had a giant sized chip on his shoulder about his adopted country.

‘Also respectability, good taste, don’t rock the boat, there will always be an England, foreigners, Jews, natives etc are all right in their place and their place is outside . . .’

The article is exactly the type of thing he is criticising here but Levy shows no signs of recognising it, the whole thing seems to be caught in an infinite loop of irony. The article is suggesting that because he was an immigrant he has no right to criticise anything in the UK, and because he did he must hate the UK.

This was also a stand-out line.

Like all Left-wing thinkers, Ralph Miliband knew how to explain away awkward events.


Metatone 10.02.13 at 8:35 am

The weakness of the British Press is that no-one is going to ask “Does Paul Dacre’s Dad hate Britain?”

Indeed, no-one seems to ask anything about Paul Dacre, ever.


Matt Heath 10.02.13 at 8:38 am

The bit in the Mail’s editorial about “the jealous God of Deuteronomy” is a bit yucky too, isn’t it?


Phil 10.02.13 at 9:03 am

Just about to post a comment which will probably be auto-modded. If this is all that appears, could a mod have a look? Ta.


Phil 10.02.13 at 9:12 am

Some more links for you:

Ed Miliband’s reply
Geoffrey Levy responds to EdM: Ralph Miliband criticised the conditions of enlisted men in the Navy and therefore, um, he hated Britain (needs work – Ed.)
The Mail backs its man (“Ed Miliband, an evil legacy and why we won’t apologise”
Reactions from Nick Clegg, David Cameron and, er, Twitter

The reaction is reassuring – I haven’t seen anyone actually backing the Mail. Still, it is scary seeing such an open attempt to delegitimate the Left by running the old “Marxism = Communism = Stalinism = the Gulags = Pol Pot” line. Being a Marxist academic becomes “attempting to convert the impressionable young to his poisonous creed”. Nasty stuff, and unpleasantly familiar.


Jim Buck 10.02.13 at 9:31 am

I recall Paul Dacre in his anarchist days (Leeds circa 1970). Dacre hated Harold Wilson’s Britain.


John Quiggin 10.02.13 at 9:38 am

Love the Leon Rosselson reference. I never ate another fish finger after hearing that song.


Jim Buck 10.02.13 at 9:42 am

@5 Adam, can you point me directly at the ‘crooked as his nose’ quote?


Sasha Clarkson 10.02.13 at 10:48 am

Tabasco @2

Surprisingly, Stanley Baldwin stood up to Harold Harmsworth (Rothermere I) and Beaverbrook in 1930 and 31. Both press magnates had tried to dictate policy. Rothermere even wrote to Baldwin stating that he would only support the Conservatives if Baldwin adopted policies with which Rothermere agreed, and if Baldwin submitted to Rothermere the names of his principal Cabinet ministers for prior approval.

Baldwin declared at a Tory meeting: “… I will fight that attempt at domination to the end.”

In 1931, using phrases suggested by his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, Baldwin attacked the press lords for using “direct falsehood, misrepresentation, half-truths, the alteration of the speaker’s meaning … What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, but power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot through the ages.”

(Reliable sources for these quotations are easily available on the web.)


Adam Roberts 10.02.13 at 11:11 am

@13 Jim: I’ll come clean, don’t read the Mail and don’t want to go sifting through its website. I heard about the comment on Radio 4.


Phil 10.02.13 at 11:28 am

Sasha – OK, it’s not unprecedented, but it’s quite striking, particularly after the attack on Murdoch (“There are no hard feelings between me and News International. They want me to lose the election, I want them to go to jail.”) I think at the very least Ed M is the first major party leader to stand up to the press since Harold Wilson, and that’s going back 37 years minimum. There will be people voting in 2015 whose parents weren’t born in 1976.


Chris Bertram 10.02.13 at 11:40 am

Phil: yes there is a bunch of people backing the Mail (to some extent or other): Rod Liddle, Toby Young, Jeremy Hunt, Louise Mensch, Dan Hodges, Benedict Brogan. I’m only disappointed that Melanie Phillips hasn’t weighed in, then I could shout “house!”


Sasha Clarkson 10.02.13 at 11:41 am

I agree Phil – and I love the Murdoch quote! :) I also think that, for all his flaws, Ed Miliband is much less cynical than Harold Wilson.


Layman 10.02.13 at 11:46 am

I don’t really know the Daily Mail. Is it customary for them to put a piece like that on the ‘news’ page, rather than the ‘opinion’ page?


guthrie 10.02.13 at 12:19 pm

Layman, the Daily Mail makes no real difference between ‘news’ and ‘opinion’. It’s all the same to them.


bexley 10.02.13 at 12:59 pm

Luckily they haven’t caught on to the real scandal yet. Ralph Milliband secretly tutored Obama and turned him into an anti-colonial muslim commie Nazi.


Chris Bertram 10.02.13 at 1:04 pm

Layman: the idea that opinion and news should be kept separate is very much a feature of US newspaper culture and not British. Of course, even in the NYT, news can be spun to the point where it resembles advocacy: but the NYT would angrily deny that it does this, whereas the Daily Telegraph (for example) does it pretty openly and unashamedly.


Chris Bertram 10.02.13 at 1:06 pm

There’s a weird thing with broadcast and print media too. British newpapers are more like Fox news and British broadast media more like the NYT in their attitude to the interpenetration of news and advocacy.


Phil 10.02.13 at 1:47 pm

Chris – actually backing the Mail (“yes, Miliband Sr was an evil unpatriotic Commie!”) or just yelling about Damian McBride and sauce for the gander, and generally running interference? The latter’s contemptible, but the former might actually be beneath contempt (never thought I’d find a comparative use for that phrase).

This is quite interesting, and should remind anyone who’s curious just how much of a fire-breathing revolutionary Ralph M. was. (Short answer: not very much at all. Longer answer: although he didn’t believe in armed insurrection or anything like it, he did believe in the ultimate triumph of socialism, partly by electoral means. I can’t help feeling that the combination made him even more of a hate-figure to the Daily Mail than if he’d been a Citizen Smith rrrrevolutionary.)


Jerry Vinokurov 10.02.13 at 2:11 pm

I don’t know much about British politics, but from that article I’d say that Ralph Miliband sounds like a great guy that I’d vote for.


Salem 10.02.13 at 2:43 pm

Chris – actually backing the Mail (“yes, Miliband Sr was an evil unpatriotic Commie!”) or just yelling about Damian McBride and sauce for the gander, and generally running interference?

It’s a mixture. To give two of the most prominent examples:

Michael Gove (here) says it’s a matter of a free press, and the Mail has nothing to apologise for. This is currently one of the lead stories on the BBC website.

Dan Hodges (here) substantially defends the Mail article, saying “Levy’s criticisms of [Millband Sr.] are clearly political, rather than personal… examining the influence of Miliband Snr on Miliband Jnr is hardly gutter journalism… If Ed Miliband believes the values instilled in him by his parents have been relevant to shaping his politics, that’s fine. But others will too. And they will not feel obliged to draw the same rosy conclusions.” I believe this is the article that Chris Bertram referenced above.


Mr Punch 10.02.13 at 3:32 pm

@Chris Bertram – Fox News is, however, British/Australian-style journalism brought to the US. As an American, I find the BBC reporters far less objective than those of, say, CBS, in that they constantly push to put their own words ana analysis into the mouths of those they interview. All responses to BBC reporters should begin, “No, Nigel, not exactly ….”


guthrie 10.02.13 at 4:54 pm

Michael Gove is well known for being so deluded as to accuse teachers who resist his ‘reforms’ of being Marxists. Anything which bashes anyone at all connected to labour, left wing politics etc is fine by him.

It is of course quite mad to judge someone by your fantasy of their thoughts, rather than their actions and speeches, which indicate that Ed Milliband is an economically centrist and socially liberal sort of slightly to the left of centre fellow with no great ambitions to destroy capitalism.


hix 10.02.13 at 5:05 pm

Is there any opinon/news seperation in US tabloids? Sure, the UK, is just about the worst press market in the world, but since when do tabloids care about such seperation anyhwere?


Mao Cheng Ji 10.02.13 at 5:12 pm

The piece seems too mild to makes a fuss. Do you have anything like AM radio in the US?


Daragh McDowell 10.02.13 at 5:57 pm

@Chris Bertram – you missed out Tim Stanley, the Telegraph’s attempt to replicate Niall Ferguson, whose consistent hackery has earned him a place in that pantheon of crap in a very short time. (though TBF he’s largely kept his Mail related comments to Twitter. His blog posts are still focused on his historian-for-PR-purposes schtick.)

On the matter at hand – the Mail’s conduct here is so nakedly awful that I found myself cheering Alastair Campbell of all people when he savaged one of Dacre’s toadies on Newsnight last night. I’ve made my views on Marxism in general clear before, but the conflation of all Marxist thought with Stalinism that the Mail has been using to justify the whole affair is really, truly grotty, especially given Miliband’s role in the ‘new left.’

I didn’t think there was anything Labour could do to get my vote next time out. But between the energy price freeze and the prospect of giving Dacre an aneurysm in 2015 I may just be sold.

Good lord – congratulating Campbell, being nice to Marxists, considering voting Labour. If I didn’t know better I’d suspect Dacre and Ed were in cahoots…


Shatterface 10.02.13 at 6:39 pm

I didn’t think there was anything Labour could do to get my vote next time out. But between the energy price freeze and the prospect of giving Dacre an aneurysm in 2015 I may just be sold.

I’d pretty much given up on Milliband as the weakest, most ineffectual Labour leader in history but he’s actually earned some respect this week.


Robert Hanks 10.02.13 at 9:16 pm

@26 and @28: Gove has been failing to make clear in his pronouncements that his wife, Sarah Vine, has recently started working as a columnist for the Daily Mail: a fairly major clash of interests, I’d have said.


rea 10.02.13 at 9:27 pm

It’s a dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand.
Their son is working for the Daily Mail,
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer . . .


Phil 10.02.13 at 9:49 pm

I’d pretty much given up on Miliband as the weakest, most ineffectual Labour leader in history

Why? Before this week he’d already broken with Murdoch, called for radical reform in the party’s relations with the unions and, basically, stopped a war – that’s three things Blair never did.


Sasha Clarkson 10.02.13 at 9:56 pm

Gove is interesting in other ways too: he is a Scottish Conservative who wouldn’t have a hope of being elected in Scotland, but is given a safe Tory seat in England. There are others: Liam Fox, Sir Malcolm Rifkind etc.

I wonder what their citizenship status will be if Scotland secedes?


Phil 10.02.13 at 10:11 pm

Shorter Dan Hodges: if you say “I am proud of my father and his ideals” and then I say “your father was a filthy Commie and I’m not too sure about you”, that’s just the same thing in different words, isn’t it. Just different points of view, really. I had that Michael Gove in the back of my cab once. Very clever man.


Phil 10.02.13 at 10:26 pm

To be clear, what (to me) is so particularly vile about the Mail’s attack on Ralph M – and what makes Hodges’ column so unsatisfactory, to put it mildly – is what it doesn’t say: it doesn’t say that Miliband was a Marxist and as such believed in the following dangerous or undesirable things. That you could argue with. What it says is that Miliband was a Marxist which is unacceptable in and of itself; that, because he was a Marxist, his legacy to Ed M was (inherently) evil. That’s not critique, it’s delegitimation, and I’m happy to agree with Daragh: it stinks.

God knows we had enough earnest discussion of “are all Communists evil?” when Hobsbawm died: when we say evil, do we mean as evil as Nazis? slightly less? how much less? as evil as Nazis but in a different way? what about if they’ve condemned Stalin’s purges? should we ask them to repudiate the purges? and so on. To find ourselves being dragged into a round of “are all Marxists more or less Communists really, and therefore evil?” would just be a bad dream, or possibly a bad joke.


Katherine 10.02.13 at 10:53 pm


I am proud to say I am hated by the Daily Mail in just six questions. If I were Ed Miliband I’d wear their hatred of me and my father as a badge of pride.


Sasha Clarkson 10.02.13 at 11:11 pm

@39 Huh – I’m jealous – it took me ten! :(

But I’m pushing 60 and I do think that things were better in the old days – before Blair and Maggie and rampant crony capitalism.


musical mountaineer 10.02.13 at 11:29 pm

Is there any opinon/news seperation in US tabloids?

That is the most perspicatious question on this thread.


JanieM 10.02.13 at 11:58 pm

@39, @40 — Six questions for me. Being gay helps. It also makes me reluctant to say things were better in the old days (even though I’m a few years over 60). They were better in some ways and quite a lot worse in others, from my vantage point.

Of course, I’m not British, so maybe I wasn’t meant to answer the questions in the first place.


Daragh McDowell 10.03.13 at 12:39 am

@Phil – alternative shorter Dan Hodges – ‘The Torygraph employs me due to it’s commitment to a pluralism of views and my insightful views on the Labour party. The fact that my job title is now ‘professional concern troll’ is simply for administrative purposes.’

And happy to agree with you too. Maybe once he steps down Dacre should consider taking over Blair’s sinecure in the Middle-East. Who knows – we could see a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict simply by uniting all sides in disgust and repellence. And what a fucking Nobel speech that would be…


musical mountaineer 10.03.13 at 1:08 am

[aeiou] I read the whole article, which was a bloody pain, and it seems pretty objective. Meaning, if he got a fact wrong, you could point that out and the whole thing might well collapse. But if he didn’t, it’s impervious on first survey. There is little or no speculation. Basically the whole argument consists of reasonably checkable facts, which at least in the body of the piece are presented in a non-judgemental tone.

Assuming the author didn’t make significant errors of fact, the only reason I can see for anyone to be excited about this is the sub-hed, which is provocative in various ways. Perhaps the most lurid accusation against the senior Miliband is that he was:

The man who hated Britain

Mm hmm. Is that a deal, or something? Because, as far as anyone ever told me, hating Britain is the primary social obligation of all bipeds on this or other planets, taken for granted from time immemorial. Saying a guy hates Britain is like saying he likes pizza. It’s not a thing.

When I was much younger, I did not understand this. I heard a woman speaking in an accent that I vaguely identified as being from the islands across the pond. I said, “Oh, you’re English!” She scowled and said she was Irish. So I said, “Oh well, British then.” She whipped out a stiletto, and to avoid injuring her, I had to jump out the window.

So I’m convinced. If any of you can offer any reason whatsoever not to hate Britain to your very last ounce of breath, I would like to hear it.


Harry 10.03.13 at 1:12 am

A colleague of mine when I worked in England was very proud of the fact that he had been a target of Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail. A really delightful man, and, needless to say, an exponent of views unrecognisably different from those Mad Mel attributed to him. He was very impressed with me because my dad, of course, was one of Mad Mel’s #1 hate figures.

But, in fact, I appeared on the cover of the Mail, being dragged somewhere by police officers. Oddly, the page 3 photo of protestors, taken before I was attacked, beaten, and dragged away, also featured me prominently. Feb 16 1985 is my guess. What was funny was that my sister’s best friend at the time, saw the pictures at her breakfast table, and recognised me in both pictures and said “That’s Caro’s brother!”. Not, of course, the best thing to say to Daily Mail-reading parents.

I love Leon Rosselson, and carry several of his songs around in my head constantly. But since that day, the above quoted lines frequently occur to me.

I am curious why I am so angry about the Ralph Miliband slanders. It took a lot of restraint last night not to simply write a long string of swear words.


Daragh McDowell 10.03.13 at 1:38 am

@musical mountaineer – if you are unaware of why Irish people would react with special fury to being described as ‘British’ after explicitly telling their interlocutor that they are Irish, you should probably read a bit more history. I say this as someone who has lectured more than my fair share of recently confused and now suddenly embarrassed foreigners about the many iniquities visited upon my people by perfidious Albion. Though you do get extra self-awareness points given CT’s authorship.

@Harry – Funnily enough, Mad Mel has gone so completely round the bend not even the Mail will publish her anymore.


js. 10.03.13 at 2:32 am


Took me 7, damn. Being a straight male brought me down, but what with being a Muslim immigrant (admittedly not to the UK), I came _roaring back!_


TheSophist 10.03.13 at 4:45 am

Took me 10. Just one more example of how the world just ain’t fair to us straight white males.


Gene O'Grady 10.03.13 at 5:12 am

Paul Dacre, who certainly seems repellent, was new to me, but the person I’ve been seeing in the British media I read that has really got me going is Michael Gove. Who is he, where did he come from, and is he as bad as he seems? Doesn’t even seem to have the style of Cameron and Osborne.


Phil 10.03.13 at 9:53 am

It was the question “Michael Gove?” that tipped me over. The answer can only be No.

Gene: you know how Boris Johnson is a fairly serious hard right-winger who’s made a career out of pretending to be a buffoon, keeping up the appearance by working on a few good lines* which keep him in the spotlight? Gove is much the same deal, only he’s been pretending to be an intellectual, with a sideline as a professional hater. I don’t trust him an inch.

As for Dan Hodges, the Hodgester is now officially to the Right of Michael Heseltine, Boris Johnson, Charles Moore(!) and Lord Moore of Lower Marsh (no relation – he’s the politician FKA John Moore). It’s always the renegades.

*And they are good lines. But, as Caitlin Moran said a while back, this is not to his credit as a politician: writing material takes time, and writing good material takes a lot of time. No politician should have that much time spare – it’s not their job.


Phil 10.03.13 at 10:05 am

One more link: Martin Kettle

“[I] think it is very easy to underestimate the extent to which the wartime anti-fascist left, including the communists, felt that they were living through a life and death struggle – which of course they were. They believed that it was the appeasers, like the Mail, who were the traitors, and it is not hard to see their point of view.”

Perhaps this goes to Harry’s point about why this particular attack was so enraging – there’s a feeling of actually, damn it, I know which side I’m on here…


Ronan(rf) 10.03.13 at 1:20 pm

Even despite being a straight white male of christian heritage the Daily Mail hates me after only 7 questions
How the hell did they lose me?


Sasha Clarkson 10.03.13 at 1:43 pm

This blog is always worth a look! This entry has a “nice” photo of Harold Harmsworth with his hero, Adolf Hitler.



Metatone 10.03.13 at 3:20 pm

@Phil – all too true.

I’m pleased to say that some few in the media actually did ask about Paul Dacre’s dad, who seems to have avoided conscription…


nick s 10.03.13 at 5:16 pm

Paul Dacre, who certainly seems repellent

Private Eye readers or people with friends in the newspaper industry will know that his editorial style would probably make a football manager blush and an RSM cry.


musical mountaineer 10.03.13 at 9:05 pm

if you are unaware of why Irish people would react with special fury to being described as ‘British’ after explicitly telling their interlocutor that they are Irish, you should probably read a bit more history.

No need for that, the lady already told me. Irish ⊈ British. I was, like, thirteen.

Perhaps my confusion was due to the term “British Isles” which traditionally includes Ireland. Looking it up, I see the Irish aren’t so happy about this common usage and actively prefer other terms, even waging meme-war from their embassy on British soil. Which just goes to show that animosity towards Britain is perfectly acceptable, not least in Britain.

I get that it’s a provocation to have your hero called a Britain-hater (which makes you a Britain-lover, I suppose). But maybe there’s an historical element I’m missing here. Nowhere in the article does it say Ralph Miliband “had any sympathy with Britain’s enemies during WWII”. Where’d that come from? The quote about English nationalism is unsparing, but Miliband expressly stops short of wishing defeat on his adopted country. The article does not omit mention of Miliband’s military service, and it shows Miliband less radical than one of his fellows, on the right side of a major moral question that commies often get wrong.

I could go on. The article is sympathetic. It finishes up saying Ralph Miliband had “brilliance”. And, knowing nothing about the man other than this article, I’m inclined to agree. I really like his line about the dominant class.

This is a vicious hatchet job?


musical mountaineer 10.03.13 at 11:31 pm

And here I was, trying to understand and sympathize, and you disemvowel my earlier comment. Sigh.


Daragh McDowell 10.03.13 at 11:55 pm

“Which just goes to show that animosity towards Britain is perfectly acceptable, not least in Britain.”

Actually it shows that formerly colonised people tend to object to people calling their lands by the names their former imperial masters. It’s why we don’t talk about ‘Rhodesians’ anymore. Yes, the situation is slightly more complex due to the six-counties, but your dismissal of an important, if symbolic, effort by the Irish government to change the terminology as a ‘meme-war’ and ‘animosity towards Britain’ makes me think the disemvowelling may have been justified.


musical mountaineer 10.04.13 at 12:54 am

dismissal of an important, if symbolic, effort by the Irish government

Why would I dismiss my own evidence? I’m arguing that the Irish don’t like the British, and one of the reasons you can tell is ’cause the Irish don’t like the term “British Isles”, and one of the reasons you can tell that is ’cause of the meme-warfare. I’m personally inclined to go with “Eire agus an Bhreatain Mhór”, even if I can’t pronounce it, just because of that run-in with the pissed-off Irish lady. Anyway, I’m not even British. I suspect my own ancestors had cause to complain.

The reason I got disemvowelled before is because I challenged anyone on this thread to say a word in defence of Britain. Seems to me, if saying a man hates Britain is an insult, then a word in favor of Britain ought to trip forcefully from the tongue.


Phil 10.04.13 at 8:12 am

Let’s see: lots of people – including right-wingers – say it was a vicious hatchet-job and shouldn’t have been printed. A few people say it was a vicious hatchet-job, but the paper had a right to print it anyway. A couple of people say it was strong and potentially offensive criticism, but within the bounds of robust political debate, and anyway Ed Miliband started it.

musical mountaineer says “The article is sympathetic.”

Either you’re trolling, mm, or you really need to work on your reading comprehension.


John Quiggin 10.04.13 at 8:48 am

DNFTT. MM has always been a troll. Doing a better job than usual this time, but absolutely trolling, and asking for a sitewide block.


Sasha Clarkson 10.04.13 at 9:34 am

What do we mean by Britain? These days, most people mean, broadly, the island of Great Britain and its inhabitants. From that point of view, as they hate more of its population, the Daily Mail journalists seem to hate Britain more than most.

Ireland may technically be one of the British isles, but most of the people do not see their own identity as “British”. In fact the Celtic language spoken by their ancestors was Goidelic and not Brythonic.* To me, it seems that one real essence of fascism is imposing an identity upon people against their will. Unfortunately, many national identities are based upon untrue ancestry myths, but people should at least have the right to say who they are NOT.

Of course there are many sub-identities that make up a nation, and no doubt several are incompatible with each other. The “Ulster Scotch” regard themselves as “British”, but many of the more public manifestations of their culture are largely regarded with repugnance by residents of the mainland. If Scotland chooses independence, who will want them?

*The caveat is that most ancestors of the Irish arrived in Ireland long before the Celts arrived in Europe.


reason 10.04.13 at 1:51 pm

Sasha Clarkson
“*The caveat is that most ancestors of the Irish arrived in Ireland long before the Celts arrived in Europe.”

I find this interesting, but sorry I’m hopefully lost. When were the Celts NOT in Europe? Where did they come from?


Phil 10.04.13 at 1:59 pm

Living in brackets.


reason 10.04.13 at 2:03 pm

I guess I meant “hopelessly” (not hopefully) and you meant “from” (not in).


Sasha Clarkson 10.04.13 at 2:31 pm

The Celts were one of a number of waves of “Caucasian” tribes speaking an Indo-Euoropean language who arrived in Europe via the Caucasus and Asia Minor.

The earliest evidence of Celtic culture in Europe dates to about 1200 BC long after the building of Stonehenge in Britain. There is genetic evidence linking the peoples of the western British Isles with indigenous Iberians, for example the Basques (who still speak a non Indo-European Language.) Around 100 CE, Tacitus speculated about the Iberian origins of the tribes living in what we now call Wales. Certainly there is a very ‘Iberian’ look about many of the Welsh even now.

The point is that perceived nationality is often based on romantic notions, and that few people, including the English, are quite what they think they are. What usually happened after invasions/migrations was assimilation rather than wholesale genocide, with perhaps a new language and culture grafted onto the old.



Ronan(rf) 10.04.13 at 2:46 pm

“Certainly there is a very ‘Iberian’ look about many of the Welsh even now.”

Yeah I noticed this as well.
Also in Cork/Limerick, although I asumed that was due to Barbary pirates (or I might be imagining it)


engels 10.04.13 at 9:50 pm

Thanks for pointing us to this song.


musical mountaineer 10.06.13 at 9:40 pm

“Doing a better job than usual this time”

Well John, Thank You. Let it never be said that I burned anyone who spoke a gentle word to me.


ajay 10.07.13 at 12:33 pm

[I] think it is very easy to underestimate the extent to which the wartime anti-fascist left, including the communists, felt that they were living through a life and death struggle – which of course they were.

For much of the war, of course, the Communists were not part of the anti-fascist left. They were part of the pro-fascist left. In Russia they fed the Wehrmacht the fuel and raw materials it needed to bomb and shell the capitals of Europe. In Britain they pushed for strikes to undermine the war effort in what they described as the Second Imperialist War.


Phil 10.07.13 at 1:49 pm

I don’t dispute those last two sentences, but I do think it’s a very partial picture. It’d be fairer to say that, between the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Barbarossa, many Communists bent over backwards to reconcile Stalinist realpolitik with political principle, coming up with formulations like “Second Imperialist War” in the process. Many others went along with the change of line reluctantly or just kept their heads down – there was a huge debate within the British party, with significant opposition to the Moscow line (which eventually prevailed, of course).

In any case, does the fact that the CPs of the world were on the wrong side for 21 months of the war have any bearing on the way Communists felt about the Daily Mail and the Tory Party? I’d be willing to bet that most actual Communists saw Rothermere as a Fascist sympathiser and detested him for it, even during the period when they were being asked to oppose an “imperialist war”.


ajay 10.08.13 at 10:24 am

It is a partial picture, but that’s because it’s a correction to another partial picture: that the communists were locked in a life-and-death struggle against the fascists. They were, but only for part of the time. For those 21 months – the period during which the eventual outcome of the war was actually most in doubt – the communists were either actively on the side of the fascists or, at best, acquiescing quietly against their better judgement, just like all those good Germans who tried not to think too hard about where the trains were going.


Phil 10.08.13 at 7:49 pm

If you asked Communists in Germany – or anywhere else in the Greater German Reich – I think they’d say it was pretty much life or death all the way; at least, I’m not aware of the KPD being legalised or anyone being let out of Dachau. A partial and temporary truce with a sworn enemy hardly stands comparison with Rothermere’s attitude to Nazism, or even Chamberlain’s.

As for the “eventual outcome of the war”, surely it depends whether you think an enduring peace between Nazi Germany and the USSR was ever on the cards. If not – and if we assume that military defeat of Britain wasn’t going to happen – the outcome of the war was only ever going to be decided in the East.

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