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Monday 4 May 2015

Russell Brand - What Did I Tell You?

After Young Dave snootily dismissed Russell Brand as “a joke”, after hearing that Mil The Younger had called on the comedian and campaigner for a chat, right-leaning papers and pundits echoed him enthusiastically. This blog observed that, after all the righteous ridicule, “If Russell Brand needed any encouragement to endorse Miliband, this would be it”. And so it came to pass today.
Brand has released another video on his YouTube channel The Trews, which performs two functions: one, there was some footage of his meeting with Miliband which was not included in last week’s video, and two, he then summarises his impression of the parties and gives subscribers his conclusion. And the bad news for the Tories is that, in England at least, Brand has endorsed Miliband - and eviscerated Cameron.

Here’s what he said: “What I heard Ed Miliband say is that if we speak, he will listen. So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party. David Cameron might think I’m a joke but I don’t think there’s anything funny about what the Conservative party have been doing to this country and we have to stop them”. So he’s not suggesting a vote for the Tories, then.

And this was his recommendation: “My view is this: If you're Scottish you don't need an English person telling you what to do, you know what to do. If you live in Brighton, I think it would be a travesty if we lost the voice of Caroline Lucas in Westminster out of government in this country. But anywhere else? You've gotta vote Labour, you've got to get the Conservative party out of this country”.

Note that he does not endorse the SNP - he wisely admits that there is a different political dynamic right now in Scotland, and credits Scots with the ability to make their own minds up. The significant part is that someone with almost ten million Twitter followers, and a YouTube channel with almost 1.1 million subscribers, has endorsed Miliband as a potential Prime Minister. So the spin has had to be deployed.

It was too late to register to vote! He’d told them not to vote, so they wouldn’t have registered! He endorsed the SNP (he didn’t)! Brand was still a joke! Who cares - Brand’s a [characterisation omitted]! Do you really want to be like him? It’s not really happened! I shall write to the Times about this!! And it’s all so much lame drivel. Brand’s appeal to those who don’t feel inclined to engage with the political process matters.

As Owen Jones has pointed out - and, by doing so, irked right-wingers yet more - “Russell Brand matters … his endorsement of Labour in England and Wales will worry them. More people have registered to vote than ever before: between the middle of March and the deadline to register, nearly 2.3 million registered, over 700,000 of them 24 years old or younger”. That is why the counter spin is coming: this frightens the right-wing.

And if Russell Brand is such a joke, why devote so much energy to demonising him?

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