The Daily Mail's editor Paul Dacre has finally broken his silence over the Ralph Miliband debacle. Or rather, he has pushed a thousand word ramble under the toilet door that he has been hiding behind for the last fortnight.
In this spirit it reads like something written on toilet roll in crayon. That said, it is an important step in him acknowledging that as editor he is accountable for what is published in his paper.
Accountability has become central to the debate. This is no longer about the rights and wrongs of the offending article. This is about Paul Dacre's inability to take responsibility for what he publishes.
The Daily Mail is the first to demand accountability from people, be it Politicians, TV bosses, the NHS, local councils, celebrities, migrants, single mothers, drunk teenagers and anyone else who they can cast judgement upon. Rightly so in some cases, the role of a free press is to hold powerful people and organisations to account.
It's important to remember to whom Paul Dacre is accountable. In the case of the offending article, there are Ralph Miliband's friends and family. Then there is his boss, Lord Rothermere, the shareholders and his staff who could see their finances and reputations adversely effected by his editorial decisions. Then there are the readers, 57% of those polled thought he should apologise.
I would suggest that in waiting two weeks to reply, refusing TV interviews and allowing columnists and deputies to answer for him he let down all these people. Were he a politician, a BBC executive, the chief of a large company or a public body, we, and the Daily Mail, would expect a quick and very public response.
It's with grim irony that as Chair of the toothless Press Complaints Committee he is charged with holding the press to account in the name of responsible journalism.
As much as Ralph Miliband served the British Public when he volunteered for military service, our press serve us and when done probably it is a large reasonability they assume. The consequences of irresponsible journalism can be devastating, MMR, Hillsborough, Chris Jefferies, Lucy Meadows, Robert Murrat, The Dowlers, the list goes on.
It is therefore reasonable for us to expect the editor of such a large national paper make himself answerable when there is such a huge public outcry.
..."the phoney world of Twitter, the London chatterati and Left-wing media was gripped ten days ago by collective hysteria..."
This was Darce's response to the criticism, but it fails to acknowledge that Tory grandees Lord Hesltine, Lord Moore and 55% of Conservative voters polled also disagreed with the article.
If Paul Dacre believes in 'British Values' than he should take note that 69% of British people polled felt the Daily Mail should apologise. When it comes to the standard of debate in this country we are all responsible but Paul Dacre, having taken the position as editor of a large national daily paper for the last 20 years, is more so than most.
He can argue that Ralph Miliband was all kinds of bad and this is all a Neo-Marxist conspiracy against his crusade for soft kittens and better British biscuits but ultimately he has left his paper and its owner's history and practices wide open to scrutiny. He has damaged the case against the Royal Charter and dented the Tory publicity machine by giving Ed Miliband a soapbox during their conference.
The Daily Mail has cast too many stones first to expect such errors to go unnoticed. If the paper was without sin this might not be such a problem but, in context of the enemies he has made on all sides of the political spectrum, I find it hard to imagine his recently resigned contract won't be his last.