Russell Brand & The Revolution
As a result of THAT interview by Jeremy Paxman with Russell Brand, the conversation about politics and democracy in this country has changed. That’s why I support what the comedian said, because he has done something that the politicians manifestly failed to do – engage with people. Brand clarified his comments this week saying that he was not for violent revolution e.g. destroying people and property, but a revolution of consciousness, and I agree with him there too. We need a revolution in our thinking about politics, politicians – the whole darn system. And that’s why some people… the people who either run the system already, or fully benefit from the way it is run already, decry him from the rooftops. Those are the people that don’t need or want a revolution of consciousness because… they are doing just fine.
People like Jeremy Paxman, who did go as far in an article for the Radio Times to say that, yes, Russell Brand does have a point. The point being that when it comes to a general election in 2015, we will be given the choice of the austerity crew, the put us in austerity crew, and the crew who said they wouldn’t let a whole bunch of things happen – which they have. Russell’s point is that that choice is no choice and the most powerful vote for change is not to vote. Jeremy disagrees. Russell is branded ‘destructive’ because he has the ear of the youth and they may be swayed not to vote for this great democracy of ours. But as, Eddie Mair, pointed out on Radio 4’s PM programme this afternoon – the youth don’t vote anyway. And this for me is the point. Russell Brand is not offering any particular solution, but that is not his job. I for one don’t find him any lesser of a human for not having all the answers in his dandy back pocket. He is however drawing attention to the system that fails most of us. Yes, most of us. We may not agree with the way he is doing it, by urging us not to vote, but he is highlighting the issue and that’s at least a start.
A start of a change is much-needed. Here’s why. When you listen to the defenders of our democracy, in PMs case Menzies Campbell and Margaret Hodge, both MPs, you realise those two and their ilk are never, NEVER going to come up with any kind of answer either. They’ve had the chance after all, but they have contributed to the system that exists. Take what Margaret Hodge said (and to be frank I found that way more disturbing than anything Brand has ever said). Margaret Hodge, parliamentarian, said that people engage with politics when you can effect changes in their neighbourhoods. Fair enough. So then she said she realised she could have NO EFFECT on things like social housing shortages, but she could do something about where post boxes were situated. So that’s what she effected locally and that’s why people voted for her. Are you kidding me Margaret? You are a member of parliament to change the position of post boxes??
It was, I felt, a perfect example of why the system is so broken. The people in it can’t even make real changes.
Then there was the issue of young people and non-voters. The usual line defenders of our democracy peddle is that non-voters are somehow morally reprehensible and generally lacking in decency. I don’t think that’s true and I also think that rather than blaming the electorate for their disaffection the elected should do something to make themselves more relevant. Here’s a radical idea – if you stand for election and turnout is under, say, 80% back you go to the ballot box. That’s real power to the people and it might concentrate a few minds. At the moment people don’t vote because they say they don’t think their vote makes a difference, and they are, under the current party political system, correct. Earlier in the PM show they played an interview with a political activist of fifty years. Yes, fifty years. He was a paid up member and a campaigner for fifty years and he said on the radio that he stopped. He stopped when he realised that he could not make any difference whatsoever by paying his subscriptions or voting. He said this was because the two big parties run a monopoly over politics in this country – they parachute candidates into weak constituencies and that there are over five hundred safe seats in any case. It’s by stifling any new voices locally and the monopoly that Labour and the Tories have over the safe seats that any new, creative ideas about how to do things in this country never even get to the table to be heard in the first place.
The activist is right. Russell Brand is right. The people who don’t vote are right. What we do doesn’t make much difference. But things are going to change. They are going to change because they have to. This recovery we are in? Sadly a false dawn manufactured and timed to get the Tories back in office and largely based on another housing bubble and cheap credit. Have we learned nothing? The evidence is overwhelming: the way we have lived, based on extracting the maximum profit from the earth and the people is unsustainable and a system that benefits the few at the expense of the many should be changed. That’s what Russell Brand is talking about when he talks about a revolution. That’s the change in consciousness. People are waking up. Sure, some of them are still having a bit of a yawn, but when enough of the populace wake up to how they are being manipulated, controlled and captivated by the politicians and the media, it will be game over for those people who think this democracy, the one based on a feudal society of peasants and landowners, is the best thing for our country in the 21st century. And the game will be over for MPs who think a right result is moving a post box in Barking & Dagenham.
Apologies, for any typos or grammar errors. This has all come out in rather a rush before I lose the thread.
Vive la Revolution!