Before Fox News, there was the Daily Mail. If Fox News is a howling Tea Partier, the Daily Mail is his even more insane great uncle, the old master, the one who invented the game. For over a century they have printed stories to support their fantasy dreamland of ordinary white Britain being besieged by homosexuality, immigration, socialism, and, damn and blast, wind farms. Their incendiary covers, each a screaming declaration of impending doom for British society as we know it, are infamous. But for the last fortnight the senile, deluded grandpa of classic British misanthropy has kicked up an almighty fuss, just to remind us that he's still in the game, and that he's still got teeth.

Conference season has just passed, and Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour party, announced that if he was elected Prime Minister in 2015 he would freeze all energy prices for 20 months. This essentially 'won' the conference season for him; it shored up the left of his party after a difficult summer, overshadowed would-be damaging headlines about old party skulduggery in which Miliband was partly involved, and trumped the Conservatives' own offerings, which were either tawdry or bizarre.

Something had to be done. Miliband's energy price freeze quickly proved very popular, he was seen by the majority of the country as standing up to the hated energy barons and quickly managed to paint David Cameron into a corner when the staunchly pro-business Prime Minister defended the energy companies. Labour's grassroots were delighted; socialism was back! Never mind that a temporary price freeze bears spooky resemblance to Tony Blair's energy policy in 1997 (and he was somewhere to the right of Clinton), this was the most left-leaning policy announcement in years.

Cue the Daily Mail.

A few days after the Labour party conference, an article about Miliband's father, the prominent Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, was printed with a headline which read 'The Man Who Hated Britain'. The editors, familiar with the critical thinking skills of their audience, wanted to make sure that the article's intention was not missed, and so added “what did Miliband Snr really believe in?The answer should disturb everyone who loves this country”. The article was a classic red-baiting smear, taking small extracts from the elder Miliband's diary as a teenager and trying to imply that his son would, as Prime Minister, of course be a Stalinist dictator who would muzzle the press and nationalise all the things. It hurriedly glossed over the fact that Ralph Miliband served in the Navy for three years during the Second World War.

This quickly led to a frenzy of activity on Twitter, where lefties with long memories posted old articles printed in the Daily Mail in the 1930s. One was by the paper's owner, the first Viscount Rothermere, grandfather of the current Viscount Rothermere who inherited the family business, entitled 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts' - a 1930s Nazi-sympathizing fascist party in London. Another article during the war read 'German Jews Pouring Into This Country', referring to it as an “outrage” and a “problem”.

Ralph Miliband himself was a Jew from the continent who had fled to England for obvious reasons, and thus this army of Tweeters could helpfully point out that while Ed Miliband's old man was busy fighting the Nazis for Britain, the family of the current proprietor of the Mail was writing anti-Semitic garbage only a short while after they had written to Adolf Hitler with the words “my Dear Führer, I have watched with understanding and interest the progress of your great and superhuman work in regenerating your country." The Daily Mail, unlike more or less every other surviving institution in Europe, has never apologised for its history of Nazi sympathising, which prompted a clamour of questions as to whose father really hated Britain.

Ed Miliband demanded a right of reply, and within two days of the debacle beginning he had written his own article. The Mail's editor-in-chief, the famously invulnerable Paul Dacre, agreed to print it, but on the same page he re-printed the original smear article about Miliband Snr, along with a thousand-word editorial refusing to apologise because he was defending Britain from the 'reds'. In the UK Joe McCarthy never had to live, and so he never had to die. Miliband's article was generally well-received nationwide, not as one leftist standing up for another but as a son protecting his father, and so the consensus grew – even amongst some Daily Mail readers – that the Daily Mail had gone too far, that its attack was pure political assassination. Their position wasn't helped when the Mail on Sunday was then caught sending reporters into a funeral service in the Miliband family to snoop around (in defence of Britain's values, for sure).

The energy barons' carefully stage-managed media response to Labour's policy, the scaremongering of blackouts and the dangers of tampering with the free market, were drowned out by this entirely avoidable backlash against Dacre's stubbornness. It only weakened his position, so that as the Conservative conference droned on with few real headline-grabbing opportunities, several prominent people came out of the woodwork to condemn the Mail's reporting. Even former ministers in Thatcher's cabinet started to speak out, further undermining Dacre's position in a way that many of us had been wishing for since his unpleasantly secure editorship began over 20 years ago.

Preferring not to be seen in public had served Dacre well for all those years, until he sent out his deputy editor to do battle on TV with Tony Blair's former director of communications, Alastair Campbell. It should be noted here that Alastair Campbell is not a nice man; a master manipulator and self-confessed bully, Campbell was the Machiavellian special adviser that spun the media during the Blair years, the man who constructed consent for the Iraq invasion in thoroughly duplicitous ways. His methods of darkness and cruelty became so famous that the main character in a popular satirical TV show was modelled on him. With that in mind, it was a surprise just how many leftists who despise Campbell were so pleased with the snarling destruction of Dacre's deputy on live television, but he never had a more deserving target. The main contributions that this made to the general narrative of this story were that the deputy editor refused to fully stand by his boss, and that Campbell started a little campaign of calling Dacre a “coward” in order to goad him to come out and defend himself without a human shield.

After a few more days this had an effect, with Dacre deciding at last to spew forth from his bunker an op-ed to be printed in the Guardian, which has since become the most commented-on page in the website's history. In it Dacre attacks “the phoney world of Twitter, the London chatterati and the left wing media” (which the Columbus Free Press has previously observed would be a lovely thing if it existed), and accuses the Guardian and its readers of never focusing on anything important – conveniently omitting the publication of the most important government leaks in history and other irrelevant baubles. He then rambles on about how Ralph Miliband did hate Britain after all, on the grounds that he hated the monarchy, the army, the House of Lords, the press barons, the capitalist class and the Church, and failed to spot that there are very few people in Britain with any love for any of these groups, except at present the monarchy.

Dacre spends the rest of the article swiping at the BBC for being left-wing; an institution so rabidly communist that it recently supplied JP Morgan with its most prominent economics editor and gives the Conservative party a statistically much higher proportion of screen time than Labour. Again, oversights that might perhaps have been deliberate, given the unhelpful evidence and the fact that the BBC is run by a Conservative peer in the House of Lords. This might give a small window into Dacre's general modus operandi and just how tenuous his grip on reality is.

At any rate, even coming out to address the great unwashed didn't help Dacre's case, and he was as roundly derided as before for his bizarre rant. A new tactic was required, something to keep him from losing his job. A different target, perhaps. The British secret service was more than happy to oblige, with the head of MI5 appearing in public to accuse the Guardian of helping terrorists with its reporting of NSA and GCHQ surveillance. Dacre was delighted; a chance to attack his real enemy at last! The Mail printed this opinion on their front page, completely uncritically, because nothing denotes the beauty of a free press like unquestioningly parroting the government line just to fire a cheap shot at a real publication. So it's official, folks: the Guardian hates Britain, the Daily Mail said it first. And the whole cycle begins again, and Dacre survives, bruised but still in the game.

There's something inherently fascistic about declaring that opposing a nation's establishment institutions equates to hating that nation. The Daily Mail is, to be sure, a tool of the British establishment, and I for one can't stand its misanthropic bile or the elites it serves, which means that by their standards I must also hate Britain. It begs the treasonous question: in a country where people like Paul Dacre and Lord Rothermere call the shots, what's there to love?