It’s hard to imagine what Friedrich Engels would make of John McDonnell’s frugal dining habits. Engels, co-founder of Marxism, spent his 70th birthday sharing 16 bottles of Champagne and “12 dozen oysters” — and boasted of his “acknowledged gift for mixing a lobster salad”.

By contrast, McDonnell — perhaps the most famous living Marxist in Britain — is strikingly abstemious. When I ask where he normally eats in Westminster, the shadow chancellor replies: “I don’t really. Not usually.” For lunch today he ate some Rich Tea biscuits...

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