Russell Brand is discrediting the Left

This article originally appeared on the Telegraph online, November 15, 2013.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sent to pick up several copies of the New Statesman not long after they hit newsstands. Despite working at the time in a publication where people would not normally be eager to read the New Statesman, on this occasion, there was genuine interest. This was because the populist comedian (or, as Peter Hitchens pricelessly put it, “alleged comedian”) Russell Brand had guest-edited the magazine. Part of the interest was an eagerness to scoff. But for me, at least, the scoffing was at the magazine itself. How could a publication that once championed the causes of the Left – and once featured totemic figures such as Arthur Koestler and George Orwell – reduce itself to such desperate measures as deploying Mr Brand at the helm?

We weren’t disappointed. In this edition, we were treated to the enlightened thoughts of Noel Gallagher and Alec Baldwin, who, among other giant political theorists, gave their views on the topic of revolution.

A short while later, Mr Brand was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight. Quite why the producers felt that dedicating a chunk of the Beeb’s flagship news show to him was worthwhile, I am not sure. I doubt they are either. This interview was filled with vacuous statements, dressed up and delivered with his pseudo-Dickensian style and bizarre penchant for large words. The comedian Robert Webb wrote Brand an open letter in the New Statesman shortly after this appearance on Newsnight, which in the concluding paragraph instructed Mr Brand to “please read some —-ing Orwell”. Which bits of Orwell Webb meant is not clear, but his essay Politics and the English Language would certainly come in handy for Mr Brand. Perhaps he can read it at a later stage, after he has completed his politics A-level.

I had hoped that Mr Brand’s sanctimonious drivel would quieten down a little bit, but, alas, it was not to be.

In an interview with chat show host Alan Carr on his show Chatty Man on Channel Four which airs tonight, Mr Brand had the following words of wisdom to say of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor George Osborne: “I think if you’re a bit mean and tight, and always cutting benefits and being horrible, it’s because you don’t know how to f— properly.”

He adds “They’re like snickering little posh people, sort of like w—ing into their sock. I think if your job is to look after the country and you don’t care about the people who need it most, you’re out of order. And you’re a filthy, dirty, posh w***er.”

Not content with this thought-provoking statement, Mr Brand goes on to suggest the privileged upbringing of the country’s most senior politicians has left them out-of-touch with modern society: “It’s all right if you go to Eton, and then you’re in the Houses of Parliament – incidentally all those places look the same [Oxford, Cambridge] because the language and the code it these people are meant to be in charge. So it’s alright for them to say ‘oh don’t worry about gay rights, don’t worry about poor people’, because it’s not part of their lives, but it’s part of our lives.”

Time after time, Mr Brand has shown himself to be crude, vulgar and unintelligible; better suited to preaching at Speaker’s Corner, or handing out SWP pamphlets outside the Tube, rather than as a figurehead of today’s Left.

There are many problems facing society at the moment; problems that the Left should be addressing if they want to be taken seriously as a movement, as an ideology, and as an opposition. By pushing this man – who is unable to create a sentence without swearing or using a large word that he does not understand – into the forefront, the Left have made it difficult for them to be taken seriously. Perhaps it is about time to quietly disown this particular figurehead.


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