November 25, 2015


McDonnell's great leap forward puts Osborne one step ahead (John Crace, 11/25/15, The Guardian)

Replying to a budget speech that you haven't seen is one of the more thankless tasks, and the faces on the Labour benches were looking increasingly grim as John McDonnell bumbled, fumbled and stumbled his way through his first effort. But John didn't care, because John knew he had his own very special rabbit up his sleeve. His eyes sparkled as the moment when he would unite his party and sweep the Tories away came nearer. "Timing, John, timing," he told himself, his hand foraged inside his jacket pocket. Out came a well-thumbed copy of Mao Zedong's Little Red Book.

"We learn to do economic work from all who know how, no matter who they are," he said beatifically. "We must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously, but we must not pretend to know what we do not know." Having made his point, he threw the Little Red Book across the dispatch box towards the chancellor.

John could already hear the Labour MPs behind him rise to their feet, cheering, as the Tories raised their white handkerchiefs in surrender while voluntarily asking to be sent to the pig farms for re-education. Let three hundred and thirty flowers bloom. The long march was over and his time had come. They think it's all over ... It is Mao.

It only gradually dawned on John that it was the government benches who were doing all the shouting and laughing. Behind him, only the sound of one door slamming. The blood drained from the faces of dozens of Labour MPs, who had been looking to the chancellor's statement for a glimmer of light after weeks of being wrongfooted on security. Some upped and left. Shots rang out from the Commons chamber. Better to self-purge than to be purged.

John was bewildered. When he'd tried out that gag the night before at the secretariat of his local politburo, everyone had fallen about laughing. "The Commons will love it," Chairman Jez Cor-Bao had said. "No one will imagine for a minute that this will merely confirm many people's view that the Labour party has been taken over by a load of old commies who admire a man now remembered mainly in the west for killing 45 million of his own people during the great leap forward. Why not go the whole hog and quote from Marx and Lenin, too?"

Tumbleweed began to roll through the Labour benches as false consciousness won the day. 

Posted by at November 25, 2015 5:02 PM