Martin Kettle: Miliband and Blair Have More in Common Than Those Stuck in the Past Can Allow





Martin Kettle is an associate editor of the Guardian.
 
Most of us are marked in various ways by the politics of the era in which we first became involved. This is not the same as saying, hopefully, that nobody's political views ever change, although all of us can probably think of people we know whose political views have managed to get stuck depressingly early on in their lives, and have never altered.
 
But, in the same way that Napoleon once said that to understand a country's foreign policy it is always useful to look first at the map, so in understanding a person's politics, it is always useful to know when they were born.
 
That certainly went for Eric Hobsbawm, who died on Monday. Hobsbawm's lifelong Marxism was rooted in the way he became politically engaged in Berlin as Hitler came to power and the feelings he experienced in Popular Front France in the mid-1930s. Hobsbawm has been much censured for continuing to articulate why communists of his generation so often thought the way they did about the Soviet Union. But this only supports my point. If even the possessor of the greatest and most wide-ranging historical mind I ever expect to encounter could be marked in this way, then which of the rest of us lesser intellectual fry is likely to be wholly different?
 
The imprint of formative political years is certainly one way of looking at the evolution of the modern Labour party...


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