Brand And Farage Time


Last week’s episode of Question Time saw the meeting of self declared revolutionary Russell Brand and the slimy, self declared  “I’m-not-a -racist-but-er”, Nigel Farage. It was just as heated and oozing with insults as expected, but also highlighted some really important issues in both personalities and the way we all engage in politics.

Let’s start with Brand. Dismissed by many as a leftie celebrity on the loose, I personally feel that Russell has made some huge achievements and valid points throughout his recent campaigns for a more equitable, in touch and fair system. He’s relatable and has a gorgeous knack of putting politics in to words that people can actually understand and rally behind; in many ways he’s putting the passion back in to politics.

That being said, last night it became worryingly obvious that the vast majority of people seemed to take Brand’s every word as gospel, when in reality it is anything but. (You can actually get it half price in most book stores). Granted, the man is beautifully articulate the and owner of the best hair cut (or lack of one) to ever grace human kind, but some of the ideas he holds are actually pretty dangerous or  totally farfetched when properly considered.

Take his call to abandon voting. At a glance, to the less politically informed, this looks like a brilliant idea. If we all don’t vote in some kind of temper tantrum / toddler sulk we will force that lot at Westminster to finally adopt some policies to appeal to us…right? Um, no. This idea and complete utilization of ‘pissed off-ness’ totally disregards the fact that there is a whole load of rich bankers, stock brokers, businessmen and corporations pretty damn happy with the political system and all its inequality who therefore aren’t gonna stop voting. As a result, the parties are left with this section of society to appeal to and consequently make policies and pledges that predominantly appeal to them…I mean, why bother trying to please a bunch of people who aren’t going to affect your chances of gaining power? In short, not voting isolates yourself from the whole political system and the chance of ever being provided something to vote for. Furthermore, political abstention leaves room for those dedicated and fully engaged with crazy extremist, fascist views to take advantage at the lack of opposing voters. This leaves us dangerously vulnerable to far end of the spectrum loonies, cue that “pound shop Enoch Powell” lad, Nigel Farage…

Nigel Farage and his band of merry fascists (otherwise known as UKIP) hurtled in to the stratosphere of mainstream politics from seemingly nowhere. At first I regarded them as some kind of bee in the bonnet of politics – a load of crazies making wild claims that would soon fade away and undoubtedly be dismissed as bollocks by the British public. I was wrong. UKIP and Nigel Farage are dangerous; they know how to blag air time, they know how to feed off the fears of our nation and they know how to present themselves as an alternative to ‘the establishment’. Basically, Farage wants you to think of him as your local geezer and someone that you could have a pint with. Well, trust me you couldn’t – this guy is an ex-private schoolboy turned stock broker who is just as out of touch as the rest of them. So don’t be fooled.

In addition to this, Farage wants you to think that every problem ever to exist within the UK was and is caused by immigrants. Burnt your toast? Blame the immigrants! Lost your job? Blame the immigrants! Heavy flooding in January? Blame the immigrants! (Wait, no: according to UKIP, the January floods were due to the increase in homosexuality, not the immigrants).  In short, UKIP feed off ordinary people’s problems and use immigrants and ethnic minorities as a scapegoat for the country’s shortcomings. The reality of the situation is that Britain hasn’t been ‘hit hard by immigration’ at all, but rather hit hard by a poor government’s mismanagement of the economy, housing and job markets. That’s what needs fixing. Not our border control.

On the bright side, the programme involved a huge influx of participation on social media and it was refreshing to see a group outside of the typical white middle-aged man scene finally having a say in politics – for once I  didn’t feel like a nerdy teenage girl who’d turned 50 way before her time. Several tweets later however, I realised that in some cases this was somewhat detrimental. People with little previous political knowledge were making huge sweeping statements based upon 45 minutes of a panel show and forming opinions that simply didn’t make sense or showed blatant misunderstanding. I can only hope that this intrigue lasts longer than just whenever Russell Brand is on television, hopefully leading to a much more diverse, revolutionary and in touch political climate.

So, whilst the episode may have amounted to one big blur (leaving us with more questions as opposed to answers) it was refreshing to have such passionate debates and outside participation. It left me with a small hope that maybe the political future isn’t as bleak, white and middle aged man like as it all seems.



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