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Steerpike

John McDonnell lectures George Osborne on Chairman Mao (yes, really)

25 November 2015

2:46 PM

25 November 2015

2:46 PM

With Diane Abbott recently given the nickname Madame Mao by her colleagues over her behaviour since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader, Mr S had thought that Corbyn’s team would be at pains to distance themselves from the Chinese Communist revolutionary.

Yet think again, as not only did John McDonnell bring up Chairman Mao today during the today’s Spending Review announcement, he also decided to quote the communist leader at length. McDonnell attempted to make a joke about Mao in response to Osborne’s questionable business relationship with China — the shadow chancellor said that he had brought Osborne a gift of Mao’s Little Red Book:

‘Let’s quote from Mao — rarely done in this chamber. The quote is this: “We must learn to do economic work from all who know how, no matter who they are. We must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. We must not pretend to know when we do not know.”‘

To which George Osborne opened the the gift and quipped ‘it’s his [McDonnell’s] personal signed copy’.

While Steerpike doesn’t doubt McDonnell’s intentions, surely at least one brain at Labour HQ could have clocked that quoting a communist thought to be responsible for the death of millions during his time in power, was not a good idea.

Several commentariats have already taken to Twitter to make this point to Labour should the penny not have dropped:

Update: It seems the penny may have finally dropped for John McDonnell. The shadow chancellor has posted a video of his speech on his Twitter account which mysteriously cuts out his comments on Chairman Mao…



Join The Spectator’s Andrew Neil, Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth on 26 November to discuss George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and any surprises the Chancellor might have in store. Click here for more information and to book tickets.

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