Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world

MILLIBAND AND MAIL

The conflict between Ed Milliband and The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday has been news in the UK most of this past week. Public opinion is mostly pro-Milliband because it seems cheap and dishonest to dig up his fathers views and imply that Ed might follow them if he got into power. I feel that way myself, and, anyway, we don’t know how the papers have distorted whatever his dad did think and say. It is also true that many respectable people felt sympathy with the communist ideal when his dad was a young man. And if Ed really was dangerously red it would have been obvious by now. So The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday are the bad guys.

Nevertheless, the extent of parental influence is an interesting subject and not cut-and-dried. We certainly inherit physical characteristics from our parents and it would seem quite logical if mental characteristics were a bit the same. I am a student of the mediaeval poem Piers Plowman, and the writer gets bothered about injustice when the Bible speaks of the sins of the fathers being visited on the children. He resolves his difficulty by arguing that the inherent nature of the parent is passed on naturally and will show through eventually.

“But I find if the father is false and a scoundrel

That to some degree the son shall have his sire’s faults.

Graft applewood on an alder and if your apple is sweet

It would seem to me most marvelous, and more so if a scoundrel

Should bring forth any brat who does not behave the same

And smack of his sire – you seldom see otherwise.”

So if the son is applewood – Good – and that applewood is grafted onto an alder root – the father – then you are not going to get a perfectly normal apple. That was how Will Langland, the writer, saw it in 1360 or so. But the were the ideas of Milliband senior disreputable? DM and MoS obviously think so. Perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps Ed does share some of his fathers values. Perhaps that is a good thing.

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