Chairman Mao's Little Red Book makes surprise appearance in Britain's parliament chamber

Chairman Mao's Little Red Book makes surprise appearance in Britain's parliament chamber
A still image from video shows Britain's shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell quoting from Mao's Little Red Book, after Chanceller George Osborne's delivery of the Autumn Statement to Parliament in London, Britain November 25, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book" made a surprise appearance in Britain's parliament on Wednesday when the 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 criticised Chancellor George Osborne for allowing what he called the nationalisation 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 since far-left veteran Jeremy Corbyn took over its leadership this year.

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