Clueless neophytes seeking insightful wisdom from Russell Brand.
Never let it be said that I would pass up an opportunity to belittle Ed Miliband’s leadership. In this case, having cast aspersions on the Spinal Tap-esque ‘tombstone’ of Ed’s election strategy (see above), I need to comment on Ed’s solicitation of Russell Brand.
You might think that co-opting a celeb to back an election campaign would be part of the normal process of electioneering, and therefore unremarkable. But this case is a particularly significant of an example of the futility of the otherwise brave attempts of a politician to connect with a spokesperson of the much-lamented apathetic disconnection between the ‘yoof’ constituency (apparently represented by a millionare celebrity like Brand) and conventional politics.
My problems with this are two-fold. Firstly, Brand is – as far as I can see – a gigolo who frequents yoga classes for sexual conquests and TV and news media for more straightforward popular attention. His amorphous New Age ‘revolutionary’ political philosophy certainly seems appropriate for the first context, or the undergraduate student parties where many of us first make the acquaintence of similar Byronic poseurs. I was in fact greatly sympathetic to his earlier position of advocating non-voting, largely because it meant that anybody dumb enough or naive enough to be influenced by such slack-jawed insouciance was automatically excluding themselves from exercising any political influence over me. His earlier stance had all the advantages of objective and dispassionate voter evaluation and disqualification without any of the disadvantages involved in actually imposing tests to ensure minimal capacity of thought on the part of the voter. So convincing Brand and those influenced by him to vote is not a net benefit for informed democracy in my view. I much preferred allowing the disenchanted and lazy to exclude themselves, thereby undermining any necessity to attend to their self-indulgent whining about how they felt excluded from politics.
Politics is, and always has been, a frustratingly complex process of chosing sub-optimal solutions to genuinely difficult problems. Much like adult life. My advice to psuedo-revolutionary wannabe rock stars like Brand in their search for an easy way to change things for the better and/or secure the attention of impressionable girls is to grow up and deal with it without making life worse, as revolutions have a distressing tendency to do.
The second problem is that I don’t expect that Ed would lose many votes gaining Brand’s approval, but I doubt he gained very many any as it would be too late to for those following Brand’s example of not being registered to actually manage to vote in this election. And while I’m sure Ed will get some brownie points from within his coterie for getting Brand on board (well, except for Brand’s advocation of the Greens in Brighton), pandering to self-appointed celebrity gurus reeks of gimmickry and is not sufficient to even begin addressing the larger issue of voter disenchantment.