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Russell Brand became the second most influential political figure in the UK after stating that voting for change is a waste of time.
Way back in October 2013, Essex-born comedian and actor Russell Brand was offered the role of guest editor for Britain’s highly-regarded current affairs and politics magazine, New Statesman. In his article here, he claimed that if we want realistic, positive and rapid societal change, we need a revolution.
Brand’s article aroused considerable media attention, and in my first ever video, The Truth Behind Politics (here), I showed excerpts from the interview in which Russell Brand talked with Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight (full interview here). Paxman asked Russell what right he has to talk about politics if he does not even vote, and Russell concluded that voting for any established political party is a waste of time.
This interview catapulted Russell Brand’s political views into the public domain, and people all around the world started calling for Brand to help place political power back in the hands of the people.
As one man put it during Brand’s Newsnight follow-up interview with The Huffington Post UK (here): “You have, whether you like it or not, become a political leader of sorts. Are you here to stay… are you going to use that celebrity for the positive, and actually turn the dark arts into something good?”
3 months later, Brand’s YouTube channel The Trews was born.
1 1/2 years and 1 million+ YouTube subscribers later, Russell Brand became the second most influential political figure in the UK after the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Brand’s global influence became so significant that Fox News even put him on their most wanted rant list (just one example here), and UK Labour leader, Ed Miliband, as head of the opposition to the Conservative Party, agreed to be interviewed on The Trews (interview here)
The weeks before the May 7th UK general election became a very exciting time for many disillusioned and disengaged British youth, who began to become engaged and feel hopeful about politics again, and it didn’t stop there.
With the help of director Michael Winterbottom, Brand rushed the release of a documentary in cinemas across the UK that clearly outlined the injustice of ever-increasing austerity measures for everyone throughout Britain, Europe, and the USA, citing examples such as the £131 billion paid by UK tax payers, and the $30 trillion paid by US tax payers, to bail out the bankers and keep corruption within current financial systems afloat (watch the film here)
Not only that, immediately following the first screenings of the documentary on April 21st, Brand broadcast a live event to everyone in the 200 cinemas nationwide, calling for people to get involved in a new restructuring of society in the interest of the masses. I was there, and for me, such an action seemed revolutionary in and of itself.
Or at least it could have been if Russell Brand had not received such heavy criticism for his demeanor during the live event. With his head lolling back distractedly during the interview, he openly called for director Michael Winterbottom to join him at the front for questions because he was feeling “aggro”. I could see why he was feeling so frustrated, though.
Despite making it clear in the film that what we need to do is collectively unite for change, everyone in the audience, from the average Joe to Brian May from Queen, seemed to keep asking the same question: “What do you want us to do now, Russell?”
This must be very frustrating when someone is trying to set an example for others on how to be the change – not be the change for them.
On Friday, April 17th, I happened to catch a party political broadcast by a group of people calling themselves TUSC, or the ‘Trade Union and Socialist Coalition’. This group is forming a coalition of working people from all walks of life interested in offering an alternative to the established parties and a way to vote ‘none of the above’ in the upcoming parliamentary election. I found this idea intriguing.
I decided to bring all these ideas together in order to put forward a sought-after answer to the persistent question: what does Russell Brand actually mean when he says do not vote for the established political parties?
I looked through recent footage from Russell Brand’s YouTube channel to formulate a linear narrative that answers this question, and ultimately explores the deeper political message – what can we do instead?
So what do you think?