Yet it could have worked. Could. John made some very serious and pertinent points about Osborne's relationship to the Chinese state, a relationship that would have called down Tory fire and brimstone on the chancellor's head had Labour flogged off a key part of Britain's energy infrastructure to - effectively - the Chinese government. It highlights the Tory approach to selling off infrastructure, that they're okay with state ownership as long as it's anyone but the British state. After making observations about Osborne's new comrades, he could have just got the book out and handed it over with a quip. That was all. That could have worked as a bit of political theatre. Unfortunately, as we know, we ended up in the present ridiculous situation instead.
John, however, isn't the only MP to have recently quoted the Great Helmsman on the floor of the Commons. As @woodscolt79 notes, three members from the Conservative side have done just that. It's all there in Hansard. Should our friend Robert Halfon had said:
"This Gov are more Chairman Mao than Joseph Stalin and we believe in letting a hundred flowers bloom when it comes to devolution."
Or how about chum-of-the-coppers Andrew Mitchell when he noted "As Chairman Mao once said, fishes need water to swim in."
What a pair of inconsiderate bastards. How dare they quote Mao without condemning his heinous crimes. Particularly that Halfon, whose words can only be construed as shading into praise-worthy.
The fact of the matter is there is nothing particularly outrageous about quoting Mao, Stalin, or any other despot you care to mention. Nor does it indicate that those who utter their words would minimise the crimes or prefer for them to be forgotten. While John was foolish to do what he did, I think those imputing further motives need to get a grip.