This week Jeremy Corbyn provided the Tories with much comedy fodder after he announced that Syriza’s Yanis Varoufakis would be advising Labour. It was then revealed that Varoufakis’s old chum Paul Mason — who is stepping down from his role as Channel 4’s economics editor — will also be helping the party — contributing a lecture to Labour’s New Economics series.
Osborne couldn’t resist ridiculing John McDonnell over the appointments during Treasury questions. He suggested to the shadow Chancellor that the pair were picked because’Chairman Mao was dead and Mickey Mouse was busy’:
‘The fact that the Labour party is now getting it’s advice from Yanis Varoufakis and the revolutionary Marxist broadcaster Paul Mason does not suggest to me that they’ve got an answer to economic security. Presumably they chose those two because Chairman Mao was dead and Mickey Mouse was busy.’
Now Mason has hit back. He says that Osborne was wrong on two counts, as he is neither a revolutionary Marxist nor formally advising the party:
As to Mr Osborne’s claim that I am “revolutionary Marxist” it is completely inaccurate. I am radical social democrat who favours the creation of a peer-to-peer sector (co-ops, open source etc) alongside the market and the state, as part of a long transition to a post-capitalist economy. There’s a comprehensive critique of Bolshevism in my latest book, Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future.
While Mason worries that Osborne’s insult will lead to unwanted attention when he travels to ‘hostile environments’ later this year, he says that it is Osborne who is a greater fan of Marxism than him — thanks to the Chancellor’s business deals with China:
‘As for the Mao/Mickey Mouse jibe, I was tailed for hours in 2008 in Beijing by the secret police of Mr Osborne’s favourite Marxist government, after interviewing the victims of Mao’s Great Leap Forward. I am happy to state that Mao was a despot whose policies killed millions; I look forward to hearing Mr Osborne say that on his next trip to China.’
Yet for all of Mason’s protests, perhaps Osborne just needs to slightly rejig his description next time around. After all, Mason can’t deny that he is a former member of the Trotskyist Workers’ Power group…