Today John McDonnell has continued to face flak after his attempt at a Chairman Mao joke in the Commons spectacularly backfired. On the Today Show, he was confronted by Diane Wei Liang, a Chinese author who was sent to a labour camp as a child, where she was forced to quote from Mao’s Little Red Book. Wei Liang made the point that McDonnell’s joke was unlikely to prove funny ‘for the millions of people who died during Mao’s regime, nor for those who lived through those times’.
Should McDonnell need a comrade to help fight his corner, Mr S suspects he could do worse than to give Diane Abbott a call. Abbott — who has recently been given the nickname Madame Mao by her Labour colleagues — once preached about the positives of Mao on television.
In 2008 during an appearance on This Week, Abbott found herself fighting the communist leader’s corner during a discussion on dictators with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo:
MP: Mao Zedong killed 30 million, 60 million. People still wear Mao t-shirts, people still carry Mao Little Red Books and if you go to China there’s still a huge picture of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square. It’s absolutely bizarre. When a royal prince dressed in an SS uniform he was absolutely condemned. Had he worn a Mao outfit, nobody would have blinked.
AN: Why is that? Why is it right to wear a Maoist t-shirt but obviously wrong, as it is, to wear a Hitler t-shirt?
DA: I suppose that some people would judge that on balance Mao did more good than wrong. We can’t say that about the Nazis.
At which point, both Portillo and Neil asked Abbott the not entirely unreasonable question: what good did Mao do?
AN: Remind me what the good was…
DA: Well, it’s funny I just had this debate with my son…
AN: Mao killed tens of millions of people.
MP: Just tell me what was the good thing that he did that made up for the 60 million people he murdered?
DA: He led his country from feudalism, he helped to defeat the Japanese, and he left his country on the verge of the great economic success they are having now.
Three cheers for Chairman Mao!
Update: After Mr S’s article, This Week have dug up the clip from their archives for your viewing pleasure…
— BBC This Week (@bbcthisweek) November 27, 2015