Whilst budget figures are slashed, tuition fees hoiked and parts of the NHS being privatised faster than you can say ‘trustworthy politicians’, voices of the working people in our country are being ignored. Young people in particular, are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of engagement received from politicians, with cries for change and fair policies being drowned out by insistent media screams of ‘young people don’t vote because they don’t care’. However through all this, at the end of what seems to be a particularly long tunnel, is a shining light. A light which represents hope of change. That light is Russell Brand.
When watching Brand’s talk with Owen Jones at the Guardian Live event last week at Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, there was an air of optimism that maybe society and politics doesn’t have to continue the way it is; belief that together, we can strive for change. As he animatedly spoke about campaigns he has become involved in, ideas in a revolution he believes we can all be a part of, the energy that bounced around the cinema was incredible. Never have I been witness to such an enthusiastic and optimistic round of applause from people towards a screen; people, beaming ear to ear, from 18 to 80, left that room buzzing with energy and desire to make a change.
Brand admits he is flawed and isn’t right about everything, with his attitudes towards voting at the General Election next year questionable. In not voting, it is surrendering. Voting is of monumental importance and in a close run election, the votes of more than three million young people could make a significant difference. It is not surprising though, that even with 59% first time voters stating they will not vote next year, disengaged young people can resonate with Brand’s ideas, which are much more relatable than the wishy washy jargon that politicians spout.
What is most disappointing – or perhaps scary in what is meant to be a democratic society – is that instead of media outlets listening to the valid points Brand is making, they are choosing to mock and belittle his ideas by attacking him personally. He has repeatedly stated that he does not have all of the answers nor does he have any interest in running in the general election yet that is what they are, somewhat desperately, focussing on. So scared for a prominent voice to be demanding change, his points highlighting issues such as affordable housing, are hurriedly buried beneath a pile of snidey insults, from people employed by corporations, clearly content with the failing political system and world’s inequalities that currently surround us.
In a recent article, Hadley Freeman, a Guardian journalist, wrote,
‘I’m not entirely sure where he thinks he’s going to go with his revolution idea because (SPOILER), revolution is not going to happen’.
One question – why?
She then continues, with perhaps one of the most patronising statements I’ve ever laid eyes on,
‘…but all credit to the man for making politics seem sexy to teenagers.’
As a 19 year old student, I don’t need politics to be ‘sexy’ but what would be great, is if young people were heard and taken seriously, instead of undermined and laughed off. What would be great, is if politicians realise that young people are ready and waiting to be spoken to and engaged with, for our vote to be fought over and our opinions to count.
Russell Brand is a comedian, not a politician. However in the short time that he has listened and empathised with people, has spoken out about serious national and international issues, whilst creating a trusted broadcasting platform, he has made more of an impact on people, than perhaps many of those sat in the House of Commons, ever will.