A North East Tory has leapt to the defence of his political opponent, Ed Miliband, after a national newspaper launched a personal attack on the Labour leader’s father.
Mr Miliband accused the Daily Mail of lying about his father after the newspaper headlined an article about him as “The man who hated Britain” earlier this week.
In Saturday’s article, journalist Geoffrey Levy questioned how the beliefs of Ralph Miliband, a Marxist academic who died in 1994, may have influenced the Labour leader and his brother, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Now Hexham MP Guy Opperman, whose family emigrated from the German Danish border to this country and served Britain in two world wars, has cast his political differences aside and expressed his sympathy for Mr Miliband’s plight.
“Whilst I disagree with Ralph Miliband’s Marxist views, I find personal attacks on politicians’ families particularly abhorrent.
“As a politician you should be criticised, legitimately, for the decisions you make. This article implies that the son should be judged by his father, which is completely unjustified.
“Criticise me for the decisions I make, whether that is my votes on same sex marriage, or my views on assisted suicide law change, of which I am in favour, but do not bring families or personal attack into it. The Mail should apologise unreservedly in my opinion.”
Mr Opperman’s family emigrated to the UK more than 100 years ago, in search of what the he called “a better life”. Serving this country in two world wars, Mr Opperman says some of his family had little choice but to change their Germanic sounding name. To this day, a number of Mr Opperman’s cousins go by the name of Tunstall.
“Opperman wasn’t the best name to have when serving in the British Army, but my family soldiered on, quite literally,” he said.
“It cannot have been easy for them, albeit my grandfather served five years in the war for us in India and Asia and my great uncle died on the beaches at Dunkirk; killed by the Germans two weeks after his wedding.
“They came here all those years ago for a better life and started up an engineering business, called Opperman Gears, which still runs to this day.
“To declare that Ed’s dad hated Britain, when that same man fought the Nazis in our Navy is frankly wrong of the Mail and I have written to him a short letter of support.”