Harriet Harman's response to the Daily Mail's claims about the historic indulgence of paedophiles by the organisation that she worked for as a young woman has not been elegant. After days of silence, there was an unnecessarily evasive turn on Newsnight on Monday, and then finally,on Tuesday, a move to concede "regret" without saying sorry, which would have sufficed initially but sounded contrived so late in the game. The Labour instinct was to assume that the Mail was working itself into the same frenzy as it had over Ralph Miliband last year. In the week of Ukraine's great convulsion, the disproportionate run of four front-page splashes about the 40-year-old dealings of the National Council for Civil Liberties inflamed this tribal conviction. Ms Harman failed to spot the difference between the two cases – this time the Mail was not demonising a dead father, but posing questions it would have been shrewder to answer without delay.

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