Sorry, David Blunkett – but Russell Brand has a point

Politics seems abstract, completely removed from everyday life

Owen Jones
Wednesday 22 January 2014 19:44
Russell Brand, who preached revolution on ‘Newsnight’
Russell Brand, who preached revolution on ‘Newsnight’

Here’s a little prediction. At the next election, millions of people will not vote. They will be, on average, poorer than those who do. And it will not be Russell Brand’s fault, or Will Self’s fault, or their own fault. The fault lies with a political élite that is – with some wonderful exceptions – woefully unrepresentative, lacking in understanding of bread-and-butter issues, and pushing an ideology that kicks people at the bottom while shoving wealth and power into the hands of people at the top.

I have to say this because the former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett has suggested that the likes of Brand and Self are a “disgrace” for encouraging people not to vote. At the last election, there was a 20 per cent gap in turn-out between poorer voters and professional middle-class voters, and that was before Brand’s intervention. It gets worse with every election. Politics seems abstract, completely removed from everyday life, another planet. And that is sad.

I happen to think the vote is a potentially powerful weapon, won at great sacrifice, which is why the wealthiest have done everything they can to diminish its importance. We need more politicians who are representative of modern Britain; rooted in their community, rather than seeing it as a profession; and who don’t treat it like a money-making racket, with former ministers no longer ending up on the boards of companies profiting from their former ministerial fields. And if there is not radical change, universal suffrage will keep on unwinding by stealth, whatever Russell Brand or Will Self says.

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