Ferguson did recall how he hoped that Hobsbawm's autobiography, Interesting Times, published in 2002, "would contain some expression of remorse for his decision to remain a member of the Communist Party even after the exposure of Stalin's crimes". But as Perry Anderson, himself a distinguished man of the Left, pointed out in a long and careful account of that work in the London Review of Books, it contains "no discussion at all of the actual political history of the period", and of Hobsbawm's Marxism "virtually all we are told is that he read The Communist Manifesto at high school in Berlin".
Hobsbawm's death occurred as the Labour conference was getting under way in Manchester. Miliband at once paid tribute to him as "an extraordinary historian, a man passionate about his politics and a great friend of my family". But in his own speech, Miliband proceeded to embrace a quite different figure, Benjamin Disraeli, and to appropriate that great Conservative Prime Minister's tradition of "One Nation" Toryism. This shameless act of political body-snatching made for excellent theatre: few people had imagined the Labour leader could be so audacious. But it also required Miliband to distance himself from his own father, the thoroughly left-wing academic Ralph Miliband, and from the north London Marxism of his youth. So the Labour leader admitted that his father "wouldn't agree with many of the things I stand for. He would have loved the idea of ‘Red Ed'. But he would have been a little bit disappointed that it isn't true." This was an elegant and affectionate way of trying to free himself from the politics with which he grew up. For the Labour leader, this is a matter of political life and death: he cannot allow himself to be portrayed as an out-of-touch north London leftie with a sophisticated grasp of socialist theory and no idea how normal people live: hence his emphasis in his speech on his comprehensive schooling. Hobsbawm did not figure in that speech.
As well as the tributes to Hobsbawm since his death, there have been a number of indignant protests against him. Michael Burleigh, who is a member of Standpoint's advisory board, wrote an angry piece in the Daily Telegraph which ended: "Hobsbawm's implacable refusal to recant his views when faced with their grotesque consequences tells us something about the belligerent mindset of the wider British Left. But the eminence that he and his fellow travellers have enjoyed also speaks to the bovine complacency with which, since Mrs Thatcher, the Conservatives have allowed such dubious figures licence to dominate the soft culture of the BBC and our universities."
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