Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour’s new leader, few of his colleagues have been more supportive than Diane Abbott. As well as defending John McDonnell on the Today show this week over his fiscal charter U-turn, the shadow secretary for international development — who reportedly once enjoyed a romance with Corbyn — took it upon herself to defend Corbyn’s honour at a PLP meeting last month when Jess Phillips criticised him over the lack of women in his shadow cabinet.
With Phillips responding by telling Abbott to f— off, it’s safe to say that Abbott’s new role as Corbyn’s champion has not gone down well with some Labour MPs. In fact, one such Labour MP tells the Financial Times that they have taken to referring to her as ‘Madame Mao’ behind her back:
‘One Labour MP said: “If you’ve got to put Diane Abbott on the Today programme to calm things down, you’re in trouble. We’ve got a nickname for her: Madame Mao.’
Madame Mao was the wife of the Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao and was China’s first ‘First Lady’. She soon became a political figure herself, forming the political alliance known as the Gang of Four before losing her power and influence when her husband passed away. She was then charged with treason and at the trial — where she was sentenced to death before having her sentence reduced to life imprisonment — she blamed all her actions on Chairman Mao:
‘I was Chairman Mao’s dog. I bit whomever he asked me to bite.’
However, Mr S suspects the comparison is not entirely fair. After all Steerpike can’t see Corbyn’s new attack dog taking orders from anyone — including her leader.