What will October 2013 be remembered for, the storm of the decade or the disillusioned jester?
When Russell Brand appeared on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman, viewers couldn’t believe their eyes. Was this a joke, were “they” having a laugh? Afterall Newsnight had interviewed the Cookie Monster weeks before, why not follow up with a spoof interview. In anticipation we waited for the funny bone strike with a Red Nose or a cuddly Pugsy bear, neither came.
Enter stage left, Mr Serious Brand. But who is this imposter talking about politics wearing a respectable white shirt? He tells us that he has never voted and suggests others should do the same. The political class is full of lies, treachery and deceit . “Planet first, politics later” is the general message and he doesn’t limit himself to TV to voice his discontent with British politics. He also writes an essay in The New Statesman [NS] magazine, one of the country’s top political publications.
While I meandered around Brand’s colourful words of lacquered adjectives something struck a chord. For Red Nose day, celebrities become witnesses of extreme poverty, travelling to forgotten places, usually in Africa, where children fight for survival, scratching for their very existence. Brand describes visiting a rubbish dump in Kibera, watching children scavenge for bottle tops to make enough money to eat, the same tops he so casually throws away at many of the various luxury hotels he frequents. Polar extremes.
The humanitarian in all of us knows this suffering is wrong. We know how fragile life is yet we find ourselves helpless in reaching out, questioning why governments in such places fail to provide the very basics of life for their people .
The morality in Brand’s outcry is without question, no one wants to accept such poverty in the 21st century but what can austerity Britain do about it? It’s human nature to put your family first and those around you second. At some point, like me, you may have forgone the temptation of a gamble on a single lottery ticket in favour of donating to one of Britain’s big charity events instead.
Charity is something we are good at in England, bringing people together, organising events to raise funds, promoting awareness to those who can make a difference. So if you have listened to Russell and feel depressed, remember we are doing something to help and will soon have an opportunity to make a contribution no matter how small. Where I lose Brand’s rant is when he talks about losing the only voice we have in government, the vote.
Another comedian stepped up to the soap box to say his piece! Robert Webb said that the essay motivated him to join the Labour party and that Brand was being an arse and should not tell people not to vote. “It’s irresponsible for him to do so. He’s too influential”. Whilst I agree with this, let the party leaders give us a reason to vote, make them stick to their promises and let our local MPs give us a reason to vote.
I admit to questioning the motives of the current government especially the Tory party. Do they represent what I believe in? Not really. The self-interested, aggressive, front bench Politician at Prime Minister’s Questions is an ugly thing. Yet my local MP has done a lot for the town and we did just survive the tempest of the decade, with much infrastructure investment to boot.
And it’s the British constitution of the weather that returns me to our very own entertaining Shakespeare jester, Trinculo, aka Russell Brand, to which I say, keep being Russell and let those around you vote for what they believe in.