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PM does not hate Britain: Miliband

David Cameron "wants the best for this country", Ed Miliband said as he explained his desire for a more civilised political debate in the wake of the row over a newspaper's attack on his father.

But he said that the Prime Minister's policies were "profoundly misguided" and his actions showed he favoured the interests of the rich.

"I would never say about David Cameron that he hates Britain," the Labour leader told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics in a direct reference to a Daily Mail headline that sparked the dispute.

"I would never say about David Cameron that he doesn't want the best for this country.

"Of course he wants the best for this country, so what the Mail said about my dad I would never say about David Cameron.

"What I would say is that I think his policies are profoundly misguided and I don't think it's true that he's leaving nobody behind."

But pressed on whether he could say the Tory leader was "a good man", he said: "By his deeds he stands up for the privileged few in this country. You have to judge people by their deeds and not their words."

The Daily Mail printed an article about the Opposition leader's late father Ralph Miliband - a noted Marxist academic - under the headline: "The man who hated Britain".

Mr Miliband has claimed the attack on his father, and the subsequent gatecrashing of a private memorial service for his uncle by sister title the Mail on Sunday (MoS), are symptomatic of the culture at the titles.

He was given the right to reply to the Daily Mail's essay on his father, who died in 1994, but the newspaper accompanied it with an editorial accusing the left-wing thinker of leaving an "evil legacy".

Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the company which owns the newspapers, has apologised after a Mail on Sunday reporter turned up uninvited to an event commemorating Mr Miliband's uncle.

MoS editor Geordie Greig also apologised and said that two journalists on his paper had been suspended pending a full investigation into what he said was "a terrible lapse of judgment".

But in Lord Rothermere's reply to a letter from Mr Miliband he said he did not believe the incident reflected the culture and practices of the Daily Mail or Mail on Sunday.

Mr Miliband said that "beggars belief".

He denied seeking a fight with the newspapers to bolster his public image, insisting he had felt personally obliged to stand up for his family.

"Of all the things I've done in my time as leader of the Labour Party, this is not something I've relished, this is not a fight I wanted," he said.

"There are so many other people who have found their lives trampled over. For all those other people I had a responsibility to speak out about this."

Mr Miliband also indicated that he would set out further measures to regulate markets - after pledging to freeze energy bills for 20 months if Labour wins the 2015 election.

"The state always sets rules for the way markets work and, yes, we will be doing more to show the difference a Labour government would make," he said.

"We will tackle the cost-of-living crisis and one of the ways we'll do it is by making markets work in the public interest."

Labour former deputy prime minister John Prescott said Mr Miliband had contacted him before the publication of his column in a Sunday newspaper to ask the debate be kept on decency rather than stray into press regulation.

Lord Prescott, who quit the Privy Council in protest at a delay to new press regulation plans, said he was not asking for Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre to lose his job.

He told BBC1's Sunday Politics show: "Paul Dacre is not an acceptable character to me but he's entitled to be an editor of a paper, he needs to though take into account some decency in his operations. He doesn't come out and debate with anyone, does he?"


From Belfast Telegraph