The Peep Show actor wrote a heartfelt op ed piece for the New Statesman about his decision to honour the mutual loathing of the Conservatives he shared with his late mother, who died from cancer in an underinvested in NHS hospital in 1990 when he was just 17.
“Every day, I walk past the newspaper stand of the local shop and see the headlines blurting from the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the rest of them: how business ‘leaders’ are scared of Labour, how Ed Miliband is a threat to literally everything that was ever dear and good, how Nicola Sturgeon is personally about to tie him to a chair and beat him around the head with a concrete (if it’s the Mail, inevitably) haggis until he calls the Kremlin and invites Putin to come over and strangle the Queen, and so on,” he wrote. “And I think, wow, these guys aren’t kidding around.”
He went on to describe the current government, led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, by asking readers to “imagine a country run by people who spent their whole childhood ‘in care’”.
“That’s what we’ve got,” he continues. “Large sections of the Tory party, the judiciary and the media and many of the bankers who crashed the economy went to private boarding schools where emotional self-sabotage was the only way to ‘be a man’. ‘You’re very lucky to be here,’ they are told, ‘and you don’t show your gratitude by crying for Mummy.’ So they don’t really ‘do’ empathy. They can’t afford it.
“That’s why David Cameron talks about parental leave like a policeman trying to judge a flower show. It’s why Boris Johnson drops Latin tags into conversation and this is seen by his peers as a mark of intellectual flair, rather than the needy posturing of a child. Guys, by all means have another term in office, on condition you see a psychiatrist twice a week for a year. I honestly think they’d rather lose.”
Elsewhere, he reminisces about 1990 – the year his mother passed away “at the mercy of an NHS after a decade of underinvestment”.
“Schools and hospitals had buckets under the ceiling to catch the rain. You do remember, don’t you? The patients on trolleys in corridors and the lessons in Portakabins, the closing libraries, the riots, the homeless people sleeping rough? The hysterical rows in the Tory party about Europe, the press denigrating the Labour leader, the insistence that the poor protect the wealthy? You remember, right? What it used to be like when the Conservatives were in charge? We need only look out of the window: they’re back and they’ve been very busy. You can protest against them but under our knackered system, only Labour can kick them out.”
“I didn’t have the money to help my mum when I was 17 but I have a bit now. Come on, Ed: tax me. Tax me till I fart. Build those million new homes, freeze the rents of young people, reopen the libraries and the Sure Start centres, bring in the living wage, cut tuition fees, send another arena full of furious, heartbroken, working-class teenagers to university and stand well back. Reinvest in our health service, collar the corporate tax evaders, dismiss the non-doms, scrap the bedroom tax, let teachers teach, ignore Rupert Murdoch because you owe him nothing and restore some sense of purpose and decency to our public life.”
He concludes the piece by adding that he doesn’t need the kind of leader that “you’d want to put on a T-shirt”.
“Ed Miliband’s favourite track is probably ‘Persuading in the Name Of’ by Reform Against the Machine.
“It’s not my rage he needs, it’s my vote. He can’t do any of the above unless he’s prime minister. I know what to do about that. What will you do?”
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