He famously sat in front of Jeremy Paxman and said he didn’t vote. He encouraged the young not to engage in the current democratic system, either. He marched on Trafalgar with Anonymous. And he wrote a book called Revolution.
Needless to say Russell Brand’s about-turn to back Labour leader Ed Miliband in the 11th hour came as something of a shock to his young supporters. And a welcome one to the left-of-centre party hoping to capitalise on some of the young, impressionable, formerly apathetic voters.
The comedian has faced criticism from all corners over the decision. Including from the Tories, whose leader David Cameron labelled him “a joke”, before describing him as “some comic with a beard who thinks terrorism is funny”.
So he’s written a blog post to explain it all. Including confirming he’d planned to back Labour all along before his interview with ‘Chim Charoo’ Miliband even took place.
“In the episode of The Trews in which I interviewed Ed Miliband there is no Damascene moment,” he writes via his website. “I did not tumble back in a white beam of enlightened reverie, scales falling, realising that the Westminster machine, with a different pilot will serve ordinary people. **We decided to endorse Labour before we approached them for the interview.**
Admitting that if we were to scrap the government, there is currently no system good enough to replace it, he adds: “The simple truth is I don’t have a ‘ready to wear’ system of government to offer people on May 8th and neither does anyone else I’ve yet spoken to.”
He continues: “Ultimately what I feel, is that by not removing the Tories, through an unwillingness to participate in the ‘masquerade of democracy’, I was implicitly expecting the most vulnerable people in society to pay the price on my behalf while I pondered alternatives in luxury.
“The reason I didn’t suggest it sooner is because, twerp that I am, I have hope. I really do believe that real, radical change is possible that the tyranny of giant, transnational corporations can be ended, that ecological melt-down in pursuit of imaginary money can be arrested and reversed, that an ideology that aspires to more than materialism, individualism and profit can be realised and practiced.”
Russell Brand's Most Controversial Quips
Russell Brand's Most Controversial Quips
1/19 On puberty:
“By puberty I learned that nothing worth having could be easily attained and to succeed one must be single minded."
2/19 On changing the world:
“I want to change the world, and do something valuable and beautiful. I want people to remember me before I'm dead, and then more afterwards.”
3/19 On being strong:
"Strength does not have to be belligerent and loud."
4/19 On grammar:
“I couldn't possibly have sex with someone with such a slender grasp on grammar!”
5/19 On manners in England:
"In England we have such good manners that if someone says something impolite, the police will get involved."
6/19 On junkie v vegetarian:
“Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] - 'I shall have heroin, but I shan't have a hamburger.' What a sexy little paradox.”
7/19 On the future:
“People don't realize that the future is just now, but later.”
8/19 On sex addiction:
“Boggle with sex addicts is up there with go-kart racing with junkies.”
9/19 On life:
“My life is just a series of embarrassing incidents strung together by telling people about those embarrassing incidents.”
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
10/19 On happiness:
"If you want to be happy stop being so self-obsessed and start considering other people."
11/19 On drug addiction:
“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”
12/19 On sitcoms:
"I do have a regard for the musicality of language that came from BBC sitcoms like Fawlty Towers."
13/19 On life motivation:
"That's what keeps me alive, perversion and star quality.”
14/19 On love:
“When you fall in love you recognise you're not the most important person in the world, and your focus becomes another person.”
15/19 On threesomes:
“I like threesomes with two women, not because I'm a cynical sexual predator. Oh no! But because I'm a romantic. I'm looking for "The One." And I'll find her more quickly if I audition two at a time.”
16/19 On Conservatives:
"Conservatism appeals to our selfishness and fear, our designer and self-interest."
17/19 On surfing:
“Surfing should be called "foam-choking" or "sea stabbing.”
18/19 On Demi Moore:
"I've not made love to her yet, but it's a matter of time."
STEVE MORGAN/AFP/Getty Images
19/19 On success:
"When I was growing up, I thought I'd be a lot happier if I was famous and successful and if I had money."
Elsewhere he adds: “My position will not have changed on May 8th, I’ll be doing my best to amplify movements I believe in, from housing, to trade unions, football fan campaigns, social enterprises, digital activism, student occupations, organic agriculture, crypto-currencies; the same things I’m doing today, the things I’ve been learning about for the last 18 months; since I said I don’t vote on the telly.
“My recommendation that people vote Labour is an optimistic punt that the degeneration of Britain will be slowed down and the lives of the most vulnerable will be a little more bearable than they’d’ve been under the Tories.
“Nothing more ambitious than that.”
Nothing more ambition, in fact, than his own seeming offer to enter the political fray if it doesn’t work out with Miliband, as he writes further up in the piece: “Does this country need a radical new political movement? An equivalent of Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain? It feels like it does and when the next administration fails to deliver because of the limitations of parliamentary politics I’ll happily participate in setting it up. With you.
“Do we need an international confederation of new political alliances that are committed to real change, real democracy, a revolutionary alternative to capitalism? That can challenge the IMF, WTO, WBO and all the other global acronyms so portentous and phony they may as well be the wrestling federations they sound like? Of course we do, my schedule’s pretty clear, I’ll join in. Will you?”
He ends his post with an honourable nod towards those who fought for the vote.
“It will take serious activism, committed action comparable to the sacrifice of those whose memories are continually evoked as a spur for us to vote,” he writes. “The women who died for that right, the people all over the world branded terrorists and imprisoned or executed for demanding democracy.
“I fully understand that real change, real democracy is not something that can be palmed off in a booth twice a decade, a crossed box and crossed fingers.
“Democracy is for life, not just elections.”
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