Once upon a time, Labour politicians were lining up to praise the socialist achievements of the government in Venezuela. These days it’s a much harder sell thanks to the fact that 82pc of households live in poverty. Happily, John McDonnell has found a workaround. Speaking on the Sunday Politics, the shadow chancellor rejected the idea that Venezuela was an example of the failed socialist economic model. Instead the issue is apparently that when Nicolás Maduro took over from veteran socialist leader Hugo Chávez it ‘took a wrong turn’ and now ceases to be ‘a socialist country’.
Only Mr S isn’t so sure this defence holds up. For one, someone forgot to tell McDonnell’s comrades:
1. Jeremy Corbyn
In 2014, Jeremy Corbyn rang President Maduro live on a Venezuelan television channel to congratulate him. During the phone call, Maduro in turn introduced him as a ‘friend of Venezuela’
2. Chris Williamson
Back in August, the Corbynista MP defended Nicolas Maduro’s socialist regime on Newsnight:
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 2, 2017
What’s more, when asked ‘Do you think you’re closer to Chavez and Maduro in your political philosophy or Tony Blair?’, Williamson refused to say.
3. Richard Burgon
Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary, also joins the list of Corbynistas who personally supported Maduro:
Victory for the Labour Movement in Venezuela: bus driver, trade unionst and socialist Nicolas Maduro elected as President of Venezuela.
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) April 15, 2013
4. Seumas Milne
Corbyn’s director of communications has a personal history with Maduro – previously enjoying a lengthly sit down interview with the man where they discussed pop music.
Viva la revolución!