He was called a revolutionist. The man who would shake up youth politics, rage against the elitist Tories and their banking friends and ensure that Ed Miliband and his party would storm to victory on the back of a large left-wing youth vote.
How did Russell Brand’s vision go so wrong? The answer lies in the blind assumptions of a man who completely fails to represent the youth he tries to connect with: a 40 year old, self-publicist millionaire who thinks manic, ranting Youtube videos will somehow encourage a mass revolution against the political structure of a country which holds the position of one of the most democratic nations on earth. While certainly Britain still has an elitist society that needs reform, Brand’s attack on his perceived oppression of the majority of the UK insults other nations in which democracy is but a distant hope.
The vision of Brand’s new England was, and is, shaky to say the least. While his fronting of campaigns, such as the New Era Estate, represent a successful and socially decent approach to dismantling unfair big-business bullying of the underprivileged, his constant rage against ‘the bankers’ came across as a childish tantrum against a scapegoat that even he couldn’t individually define. The ‘bankers’, the faceless enemy Brand continually shouts about, was a by-word for anything that didn’t associated with left-wing liberalism. In fact, watching Russell Brand’s ‘Trews’ channel would lead any easily swayed individual to assume ‘the bankers’ were responsibly for everything from the economic collapse, to A&E waiting times.
What Brand achieves in his idealistic ranting is to reinstate a very clear class divide, which the UK has been (admittedly very) slowly dismantling over the past few centuries. The is no doubt that in Brand’s world there is an Us vs. Them – the political elite and their ‘bankers’ versus the masses of youth in Britain today. This, in turn, implements a space in which anything that isn’t strictly ‘Brand-approved’ or strongly left-wing becomes the views of ‘Them’ and therefore, by default, extremely capitalist and right-wing. The Tories, in the eyes of Brand, exist on a level of ideology that matches UKIP, regardless of the clear differences between those two parties. Brand condemns the elitist running of Britain, while reinstating their control through newly defined barriers of separation in the class structure. Us vs Them might bring attention to the continued divide in economic terms of the British population, but far from attempting to break this down, Brand expands the divide and reveals in the majorities inferiority and their need to rise up (Let’s not mention that he would be classed in the minority with his economic status).
In his recent video (Election Result: My Reaction), Brand patronised the large proportion of UK right-wing voters this election by suggesting that the only reason they’d voted Conservative was because ‘the old media’ and ‘the establishment’ had forced them to, through clever use of ‘ the front pages of The Sun and The Mail’. The irony seems to be lost on Brand that his news channel represents the opposing side to the ‘old media’ – a new media that represents a form of propaganda for the left-wing political groups in Britain. But more worryingly, this most recent video implies that the reinstatement of Cameron as PM and the Tory majority were not the result of a democratic election, but somehow were a shadowy coup by the elites of our country to hold up conservative power and destroy the working class once and for all. And that comes across as, quite frankly, ridiculous. Brand’s idealist liberal vision has been shattered and his response is to assume some foul play, rather than acknowledging that the majority of voters voted right-wing.
Russell Brand, then has been hung up to dry after this election. Yes, he has certainly got hundreds of youth voters interested and interacting with politics on social media and in the wider world. And yes, his idealistic views of a completely equal Britain are appealing for many who have face hardship, or will face hardship thanks to across the board economic cuts. But if he wants to successfully achieve change, he needs to define his argument. Raging against ‘the bankers’ comes across as a little old-hat 4 years after the economic collapse, when regulations on banks have been tightened. Britain’s inequality and political problems cannot be passed off as the consequence of ‘bankers’. And a conservative majority government cannot be passed off as a successful campaign by The Sun paper. The Youth have been politicised, but Russell Brand’s style of political propaganda is far behind the new, modern youth voter who is perfectly able to think, understand and vote for themselves.