Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” made a surprise appearance in Britain’s parliament on Wednesday when the opposition Labour Party finance spokesman brandished a copy as he mocked the government’s reliance on Chinese investment.
A debate on Britain’s economy and the Conservative government’s plan for the next five years broke down into howls of laughter when John McDonnell, Labour’s finance spokesman, read out some “advice” from the book, a pocket-sized collection of Mao Zedong’s quotations first published in the 1960s.
McDonnell criticized finance minister George Osborne for allowing what he called the nationalization of British industry by other states such as China and offered “to assist comrade Osborne in his dealings with new found comrades”.
“I think you will find this invaluable … Let’s quote from Mao, rarely done in this chamber,” McDonnell said laughing as he read out a quote urging people not to pretend “to know what we do not know” – a clear reference to his belief that Osborne’s economic plans showed his “sheer economic illiteracy”.
He then tossed the little red book onto the table dividing the government and opposition benches, giving Osborne the chance to seize the opportunity to tease McDonnell over his hard-left views.
“So the shadow Chancellor literally stood at the despatch box and read out from Mao’s little red book,” Osborne said.
“Oh look,” he added, “it’s his personal signed copy.
“The problem is half the shadow cabinet have been sent off for re-education,” he added grinning, referring to deep splits in the opposition party…