John McDonnell took some flak when he produced Chairman Mao’s little red book from his pocket in the House of Commons on Wednesday, probably a first in the history of Parliament that the book has made an appearance. However it is not first time that Chairman Mao has been quoted. The table below shows the frequency of mentions of the phrase ‘Chairman Mao’ since the 1950s.
Source: SAMUELS Project http://www.hansard-corpus.org/
Mao is often mentioned in order to introduce a quote that is relevant to the discussion. Here is Robert Adley (Conservative) in 1974:
RA: It is with no disrespect to them that I say that they remind me of the words of Chairman Mao, that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step
Other Mao quotes from the houses include:
James Pawsey: It was Chairman Mao who said that knowledge is power Ian Winterbottom: As Chairman Mao has said, "Power grows out of the mouth of a gun" Anon: People, I hope, will realise at last— to borrow Chairman Mao's phraseology— that the IRA fish will be denied altogether the water in which alone they can live and swim
John McDonnell quotes from Chairman Mao’s little red book
Here’s the transcript from McDonnell’s speech as he produces the book and the subsequent reaction of the chamber to it. The Speaker has to step in a couple of times to try and restore order.
JM: to assist comrade Osborne in his dealing with his new found comrades I’ve brought him along Mao’s little red book ((removes book from pocket)) Chamber: ((general noise)) (3.0) JM: let me quote (2.0) let me quote mister speaker SP: ooorder I I want to hear about the contents of the book JM: I think you’ll find I think you’ll find this invaluable ((4.0)) what- let me offer SP: ((inaudible)) rather excitable one mister McDonald JM: I thought this would help him mister speaker let’s quote from Mao Chamber: ((general noise)) JM: rarely done in this chamber (1.0) the quote is this (1.0) oh be- behave ((gestures to opposition member)) ((reading from book)) we must learn to do economic work from all who know how no matter who they are we must esteem them as teachers learning from them respectfully and conscientiously but we must not to pretend to know what we do not know I thought it would come in handy for him in his new relationship ((throws book to George Osborne’s side))
George Osborne Responds
George Osborne (GO) could not help picking up on this incident of course and drew some laughter from the house in reply:
GO: so the shadow chancellor literally stood at the dispatch box and read out from Mao’s little red book Chamber: ((general laughter and shouts)) (6.0) GO: oh look it’s his personal signed copy Chamber ((general laughter and shouts)) (5.0) GO: the problem is half the shadow cabinet have been sent off to re-education Chamber ((general laughter and shouts)