26 November 2015


  • If there was any point to throwing Mao’s Little Red Book at George Osborne, it was to have a go at him for cosying up to the Chinese government, which McDonnell believes is dumping steel on the world market and putting British steelworkers out of work. 
  • It might have made sense if McDonnell had used an incendiary Mao quote about how the proletarian revolution will use all its cunning to trick the running dogs of imperialism into serving the cause of Marxism-Leninism, and then said that nothing much has changed in the last 40 years since the high days of Maoism in China (ie, that Osborne is the dupe of the Chinese communists). 
  • Instead, he used a banal platitudinous Mao quote to the effect that leaders should listen to the people, which he obviously endorsed – as would any democrat or indeed any mad dictator. This implies that there is no problem with cosying up to the Chinese government -- unless they are capitalist roaders who have traduced Mao’s legacy and sold out the revolution. 
  • Yet if they are capitalist roaders who have sold out the revolution, there’s the double difficulty that Mao was responsible for the deaths of millions, a dictator who didn’t listen to the people – and yet remains an icon for the Chinese Communist Party, even though he is now officially considered only 70 per cent right and 30 per cent wrong (and is frankly a bit of an embarrassment to the current party leadership). 
  • So in half-a-minute of banter, McDonnell appeared at once anti-Chinese and pro-Chinese, offended everyone with an opinion for or against engagement with the current Chinese government, and made himself look like a particularly stupid 1968 student revolutionary. That takes class we have not seen in British politics for a long time.

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