Some Labour MPs are very definitely still Marxist Old Labour, or at least pine after the good ol’ days. A few moments ago on the BBC News commentary programme This Week, I listened to the following exchange between former Tory MP and cabinet minister Michael Portillo, current Labour MP Diane Abbott, and moderator Andrew Neil. There was a discussion about dictators.
Portillo: Mao Zedong killed 30 million, 60 million. People still wear Mao t-shirts; people still carry Mao Little Red Books and if you go to China there’s still a huge picture of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square. It’s absolutely bizarre. When a royal prince dressed in an SS uniform he was absolutely condemned. Had he worn a Mao outfit, nobody would have blinked.
Neil: Why is that? Why is it right to wear a Maoist t-shirt but obviously wrong, as it is, to wear a Hitler t-shirt?
Abbott: I suppose that some people would judge that on balance, Mao did more good than wrong. We can’t say that about the Nazis.
Neil: Remind me what the good was.
Abbott: Well, it’s funny I just had this debate with my son.
Neil: Mao killed tens of millions of people.
Portillo: Just tell me what was the good thing that he did that made up for the 60 million people he murdered?
Abbott: He led his country from feudalism, he helped to defeat the Japanese, and he left his country on the verge of the great economic success they are having now.
Portillo (to Neil): You call Stalin the greatest [in terms of despotism] ever dictator. In terms of mass murder he isn’t on the same page as Mao, that Dianne apparently supports.
Yes, isn’t it nice to know that we have Maoists sitting on the Government’s backbenches in the British Parliament?