This week, the authoritarian right-leaning press was once again mocking actor, comedian and campaigner Russell Brand, such is their fear of the way in which he cuts through directly to his target audience without the need to pander to the papers. The ridicule and scorn, though, as so often, failed to tell readers that Brand has just achieved something the print media could not.
While the Mail leered “Russell Brand is nothing but a school bully.... and he ruined my lunch: RBS worker's hilariously cutting riposte to comedian's bank publicity stunt” and the Telegraph sniffed airily that “Russell Brand's film about 'financial inequality' is largely funded by high net worth City investors who were able to offset their investment against tax”, ordinary people were not listening.
Why should that be? Ah well. Brand lent his time and energy recently to publicising the potential plight of the tenants on the New Era Estate in east London. The development had been sold to US company Westbrook Partners, and what had been affordable housing was about to become anything but. Some tenants were facing eviction until Brand brought attention to the sale.
As the Guardian observed, “Some tenants of the estate, just north of the City of London, had faced rents tripling from £800 a month for a two-bedroom flat to about £2,400 if Westbrook’s plans had gone through. A tight knit, family-oriented community faced devastation and at one point Westbrook looked poised to evict residents before Christmas”.
But now, Westbrook have decided to sell up, and at 1400 hours yesterday the tenants learned that “The new owner was announced as the Dolphin Square Foundation, a charity dedicated to providing affordable homes for low and middle income Londoners. It instantly pledged to keep rents at their current low rates not just this Christmas but next Christmas too”.
The HuffPost UK was not exaggerating or indulging in hyperbole when it proclaimed “Russell Brand And New Era Estate Score Amazing London Housing Victory”. While “The group had previously taken their protest all the way to the steps of Downing Street and had won the support of Boris Johnson”, it was Brand’s advocacy that cut through. Most of the papers didn’t want to know.
And that is why so many on the right hate Russell Brand. He has stood up for the little people, for the poor and in defiance of the rich and uncaring. For that, the right-leaning press has decreed that he is a hypocrite. He is not. And those who are so ready to leap to the defence of Christianity cannot see that Brand has done no more than indulge in the most Christian act of all.
The press have scored profits and circulation, but they long ago lost their souls.