So it’s official: Russell Brand has been duped by Ed Miliband into endorsing the Labour Party for the coming general election.
Here’s the Guardian’s excited announcement:
Russell Brand has urged people in England to vote Labour, saying Ed Miliband has convinced him that “this bloke will listen to us”, days after the party leader visited him for an interview.
The comedian, who previously dismissed the idea of voting, said he had changed his mind because he believed it was important to get rid of the Conservatives from government.
In a newly released video on his The Trews YouTube channel, Brand said: “What I heard Ed Miliband say is that if we speak, he will listen. So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party.
“David Cameron might think I’m a joke but I don’t think there’s anything funny about what the Conservative party have been doing to this country and we have to stop them.”
When new first broke of Ed Miliband’s secret midnight visit to pay homage to the comedian/activist, this blog offered the following detailed commentary:
But Brand’s out-and-out endorsement of Ed Miliband demands a fuller response. So here it is.
Russell Brand is kidding himself if he thinks Ed Miliband will listen when he speaks. Ed Miliband clearly does whatever Ed Miliband wants to do. He has already made this much clear with his haughty refusal to give the British people a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Apparently, when it comes to the biggest questions of statecraft, national sovereignty and constitutional matters, the British people cannot be trusted to make an informed choice. Unless they’re Scottish, of course.
No, the British people are only ever to be vaguely consulted, and only on the things that don’t matter, comparatively small issues (in the grand scheme of things) like the misnamed “bedroom tax”, or the Evil Bankers, or tuition fees, or setting confiscatory rates of income tax on anyone who achieves financial success. And even then, Ed Miliband believes we are only entitled to our own opinion if it happens to align with the official Labour Party platform. According to Ed, those who disagree are moral degenerates lacking in compassion, whose thoughts and opinions must be inherently worthless because they are not of a socialist nature.
It’s important to make this point because Russell Brand makes grand claims to speak for the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised in society – and he advocates community-based solutions and services in almost every instance:
We are in a dangerous position in this country. The Conservative Party are planning to further dismantle our community assets, to tear apart the very fabric of our society. That’s not something that we can allow to happen simply because people can’t be bothered or don’t want to vote. I know I’ve been Mr. Don’t Vote but actually what I mean is politics isn’t something that we can just be involved in once every five years. Democracy is for every day, not just for elections. Democracy has to be something you’re constantly involved in, whether you’re students occupying your university, whether you’re communities coming together to reclaim your housing, whether you’re people running worker run co-operatives.
Wishy-washy virtue signalling aside, Ed Miliband could hardly be more different. Ed Miliband believes that government – a big government wielding hefty socialist policies, no less – is best placed to help and empower these people. So when Russell Brand says that we should vote for Ed Miliband because “if we speak, he will listen”, he’s lying – or telling a convenient half-truth at best. Miliband will listen to people who already agree with him, to the extent that they agree. And on the whole, he does not agree with Russell Brand.
Ed Miliband might make a show of listening to Brand because he thinks it will help to shore up his youth vote, and because at this point, any endorsement is better than no endorsement. But his listening will end there. Miliband will listen to Russell Brand in much the same way as David Cameron “listened” to UKIP voters after the 2014 European elections – enough to learn how to tweak his messaging to sound a bit more eurosceptic, while doing absolutely nothing different in government – and no more.
But forget Russell Brand’s hopeless naïveté. More worrying is the childish way that both he and Ed Miliband are inclined to reduce their opposition to the role of two-dimensional cartoon villains – the bankers, toffs and Tory scum. People who do not agree with state control and intervention in our lives are not just misguided, but evil, according to this line of thinking.
From Russell Brand’s endorsement video, again:
We have to confront big business. We have to confront the people that are tearing apart London and socially cleansing it. What I heard Ed Miliband say is if we speak, he will listen. So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative Party. David Cameron might think I’m a joke, but I don’t think there’s anything funny about what the Conservative Party have been doing to this country, and we have to stop them.
Until now, Russell Brand’s one saving grace as an activist and political commentator has been the fact he maintained a healthy scepticism of all politicians and their ability to deliver real, radical change to our institutions and government services. His utopian vision of a Britain (and world) where we live in hippy communes and do away with money may be ridiculous, but at least Brand had enough sense to realise that none of Britain’s politicians, with their common sense (and vested interests), were going to help bring it about.
But Russell Brand has now chosen to squander this sliver of credibility that came with his universal scepticism. He has urged his army of 1.1 million subscribers to pick a side in Britain’s stale political consensus and vote Labour. And for what? To support Ed Miliband – the weak leader of a lost political party, one which now does more to further the interests of their new metropolitan, wealthy supporters than their original working class base.
Martin Freeman, Jo Brand, David Tennant, Delia Smith, and now Russell Brand. All falling over themselves to praise the least inspiring party leader and platform for opposition in a generation. They’re welcome to each other.