In the context of Labour party politics, I never thought I would say this, but I agree with Eric Hobsbawm. In an interview with the new Labour MP and historian, Tristram Hunt, the doyen of academic Marxism expresses some insightful views. Hardly a surprise. Anyone who ever studied modern history at sixth form or university will tell you, Hobsbawm is a genuine intellectual giant.
In response to a question on the present plight of the Labour party, Eric proffers:
I think the Labour party should, for one thing, stress much more that for most people in the past 13 years, the period was not one of collapse into chaos but actually one where the situation improved, and particularly in areas such as schools, hospitals and a variety of other cultural achievements – so the idea that somehow or other it all needs to be taken down and ground into the dust is not valid. I think we need to defend what most people think basically needs defending and that is the provision of some form of welfare from the cradle to the grave.
I think we would be wise to heed Eric Hobsbawm’s advice. Denouncing all that went before would be dishonest and pure political opportunism. Of course, we recognise that the public rejected Labour at the general election last year. But we should not tarnish the many positive things Labour did over thirteen years in government. We must stand up everytime the rightwing media or opposition parties speak an untruth or misrepresent our past policies. If we don’t, the public will question our sincerity and our fitness to govern in the near future.