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UK Politics

Political revolution 'ends in death camps, gulags, repression and murder': Robert Webb responds to Russell Brand's call for his fans not to vote

The Peep Show star said he decided to rejoin the Labour Party after reading Brand's article in the New Statesman

Robert Webb has attacked fellow comedian Russell Brand over his call for revolution, saying it would inevitably lead to “death camps” and “repression”.

Webb, writing in the New Statesman on Wednesday, said he thought Brand was a “thoughtful person” but condemned him for urging his fans not to vote.

Brand, who made his call as guest editor of the political magazine, wrote that “imagining the overthrow of the current political system is the only way I can be enthused about politics”.

He dismissed politicians as “frauds and liars” and the political system “as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites”.

“I will never vote and I don't think you should, either,” Brand said.

However Webb said Brand's article had had the opposite effect on him, as he decided to rejoin the Labour Party after reading it.

“What were the chances, in the course of human history, that you and I should be born into an advanced liberal democracy? … That we can say what we like, read what we like, love whom we want; that nobody is going to kick the door down in the middle of the night and take us or our children away to be tortured?” he said.

“The odds were vanishingly small. Do I wake up every day and thank God that I live in 21st-century Britain? Of course not. But from time to time I recognise it as an unfathomable privilege. On Remembrance Sunday, for a start. And again when I read an intelligent fellow citizen is ready to toss away the hard-won liberties of his brothers and sisters because he's bored.”

He said that one lesson from history was that revolution “ends in death camps, gulags, repression and murder” and urged Brand to read the works of George Orwell.

“In putting the words 'aesthetically' and 'disruption' in the same sentence, you come perilously close to saying that violence can be beautiful,” Webb said.

He said that in encouraging his mostly young fans not to vote. Brand was giving politicians “the green light to neglect the concerns of young people because they've been relieved of the responsibility of courting their vote”.

“Why do pensioners (many of whom are not poor old grannies huddled round a kerosene lamp for warmth but bloated ex-hippie baby boomers who did very well out of the Thatcher/Lawson years) get so much attention from politicians?” he wrote. “Because they vote.”