Russell Brand Annoyingly Distances Himself From The Election Campaign Following Conservative Victory
Outside of the politicians competing to win seats in this General Election, the most talked about individual of the 2015 campaign was undoubtedly Russell Brand. The comedian and actor sparked a reaction among the media and general public after conceding that he had never voted, but that this decision was not out of ambivalence, but rather a distrust of the political elite.
His opinions were criticised and celebrated in equal measure, but his defence of his no-voting stance, though not something I agree with, was well articulated and his commentary during the campaign was worthwhile and, in the case of his interview Ed Miliband, proved to be a huge thorn in the side of the Conservative government.
With his ‘Trews News’ YouTube show Brand provided political coverage to a demographic that may not have necessarily been interested in politics, and although he advocated the act of not voting, he brought many young people into the conversation that may not have been involved had he not have frequently extolled the virtues of progressiveness, liberality and other such principles that made it seem like he should probably just go out and vote for the Green Party.
But there were a couple of odd decisions from the Brand camp that whiffed of using the election as a means of self-promotion, such as the release of his political book, Revolution, and his documentary The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which Brand goes full activist alongside director Michael Winterbottom in order to highlight the dishonesty of Britain’s major corporate bosses. There were arguments both for and against Brand releasing his book and movie in the midst of his bout of political activism, but regardless of whether you believed he was engaging in some conceited opportunism or whether he was actually trying to provoke change through the mediums available to him, there was one thing for certain: people were talking about him and, by extension, his opinions on the current state of British politics.
But then he came out in the tenth hour and, after voting registration had closed, pledged his allegiance to Ed Miliband, telling people to go their polling booths and tick the box next to Labour. For a man who had spoken so enthusiastically about revolution and about the failings of the modern voting system, he was now telling his fans to go out and vote. It was a U-turn performed at an inopportune time, but if he had only just decided that the public should go with Labour for the next five years, he could hardly be to blame for not coming to that conclusion sooner.
Unfortunately, Brand has now released a “reaction video” following the election results, which revealed the Conservatives as the winners by a considerable margin, that does a good job of smearing the good work he’d put in during his activism throughout the campaign. Starting with him joking that he’s “just a comedian” and “a bloke with a laptop”, it’s certainly not the immediate response that would be expected from a man who so passionately displayed his disdain for the Conservative party, let alone a man who spent the past few months of his life dedicated to the promotion of an indeterminable revolution.
Yes it’s true that Brand is “just a comedian” but, aside from his book and appearance on Question Time, his level of activism has largely extended to his YouTube show, he was still a powerful voice for the otherwise apathetic youth voters.
“I think for a moment I got caught up in some mad The Thick of It [situation], like oh wow, Ed Miliband’s in my house,” Brand says in the video. “People were telling me, journalists, people who know loads about politics, look if Labour don’t get in it’s going to really be bad because independent living fund will get cut, public services are going get cut more than ever, its going to get worse for very poor people, the climate of the country is going to get mean and nasty. And now actually the Conservatives have won.” Though this might not have been Brand’s intention, it comes across as a swift and disappointing backtrack from a man who only a few short months ago deemed his political opinion worthy enough to warrant the publication of book that actively called for a social revolution, making his newly adopted “I know nuffin’ about politics, me!” angle feel thoroughly insincere.
Though I disagreed with Brand’s anti-voting stance, I believed in many of the other opinions he so passionately conveyed during the pre-election hysteria. Now I’m just left wondering whether he believed in them.
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