Comedian Russell Brand has appeared on Newsnight calling for a revolution and encouraging people to follow his lead and not vote in UK elections.
This is following the release of a special revolution-themed edition of the New Statesman magazine in which Brand was guest editor.
Mr Brand believes that voting only serves the current political paradigm which in his eyes is doing nothing positive for the vast majority of people.
He believes it is time to look for alternative political systems “that may be of service to humanity.”
It is clear by this interview that Russell Brand believes the time is now, as the political system is not working for so many people:
“There is going to be a revolution, it is totally going to happen.”
As much as I am completely against the idea of not voting, I take Russell Brand seriously as he is a well informed and intelligent person.
He has shown many times in the past through his writing that he is very astute politically, most recently regarding the death of Margaret Thatcher.
That said how can you expect to change a political system, if you are not willing to vote and use the small political voice that you have?
“I say when there are genuine alternatives, a genuine option, vote for that. But until then, pffft don’t bother. Why pretend, and be complicit in this ridiculous illusion.”
But when will this genuine option arise?
Realistically not any time soon, and I don’t see why silencing yourself and not at least trying to get involved in the political process is beneficial.
I agree there are many problems with the political system, starting with our UK electoral system, but unfortunately standing from the side-lines preaching change is unlikely to result in a seismic shift.
However, Brand does raise a plethora of significant and relevant points throughout this interview:
“I’m not voting not out of apathy, I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class which has been going on for generations which has now reached fever pitch where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned despondent underclass which is not being represented by that political system, so voting for it is tacet complicite with that system.”
Rather Brand turns it round on our countries politicians saying they are apathetic rather than the electorate:
“They are apathetic to our needs; they are only interested in serving the needs of corporations.
“Ain’t the Torys taking the EU to court because they are trying to curtail banker’s bonuses?”
When you look closer at the current state of affairs it can be hard to argue with the comedian.
In the space of a year there was 170% rise in people using foodbanks in the UK between 2011-12 and 2012-13.
The other telling statistic here is that most of the people using foodbanks are doing so because of delayed benefits, changes to benefit and low income.
Whilst working for an MP here in Scotland, I was shocked to see the amount of people that had to resort to foodbanks who were working or had their welfare unfairly sanctioned by the DWP.
It is this stark realisation that perhaps backs up some of Brand’s points.
Not that we need a full scale revolution, but that our political system is failing a significant number of people, or as Brand would say the ‘under-classes.’
You add to this that 1 in 6 UK children live in poverty and high levels of unemployment then you have to ask: “What is going wrong?”
I may not completely agree with Brand, however I do agree with some aspects of his proposed hypothetical ‘socialist egalitarian’ utopia as he likes to call it.
He mentions how he would heavily tax corporations, energy companies and those that destroy the environment.
I think reducing the power of corporations and not giving them such an easy ride, would be a good thing and is extremely relevant at present given the current situation at the Grangemouth plant and the recent rise in energy prices.
There are many unanswered questions as to how the ‘Brand Utopia’ would work and many may say who is a multi-million pound comedian and movie star to preach socialist values?
On the contrary, something does have to change.
There is a class of people who are suffering in the UK who must be tended to and a significant number of the electorate are completely disenfranchised with the British political system.
Revolution seems very aggressive, so perhaps a more British approach is required where we have substantive change without overthrowing a government or violently altering the political landscape.