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Coffee House

Harriet Harman’s messy war with the Mail

25 February 2014

8:10 PM

25 February 2014

8:10 PM

Go to war with the Daily Mail at your peril: Ed Miliband did it over its ‘the man who hated Britain’ column and now perhaps the Labour party is seeing the revenge for that with the paper’s ongoing insistence that Harriet Harman apologise for the National Council for Civil Liberties’ links to the Paedophile Information Exchange in the 1970s. Harman, though, is going to war with the Mail again, and her supporters in the press are arguing that the paper is on thin moral ground here.

Harman’s messy handling of the story has kept it going as much as anything else. She gave a forceful interview to Newsnight yesterday in which she insisted that she had nothing to apologise for, then 12 hours later suggested that the links between NCCL and PIE were ‘regrettable’. She has only said that ‘it was regrettable that [the PIE] even existed, it was regrettable that they had anything to do with NCCL ever’.

But her decision to also a screen shot of a Mail Online story about bikini-clad girls (from 2011, oddly), saying ‘when it comes to decency and sexualisation of children, would you take lessons from the Daily Mail?’ shows that she’s not just going to avoid apologising: she’s keen for a fight with the newspaper that fights hardest. The Tory party feels it can ignore the Mirror when it goes for Conservative MPs, but this incident shows it is impossible to ignore the much bigger beast of the Mail. It’s difficult to imagine any other paper having the tenacity to splash on the same story repeatedly.

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