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Russell Brand makes mincemeat of Paxo

An impressive attack on the political class, inequality, corporate greed, environmental irresponsibility and much else by Russell Brand. Great stuff. Many readers may be irritated by the fact that he has never voted – is that an indication of an anti-politics stance? – but he certainly makes mincemeat of Paxman. Judge for yourself – watch the video or read the transcript (thanks to Ben Folley):

JP: Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?
RB: Well I guess a person who’s been politely asked by an attractive woman. I don’t know what the usual criteria is. I don’t know many people who edit magazines. Boris, he used to do one didn’t he? So I’m kind of, I’ve got crazy hair, sense of humour, don’t know much about politics. So I’m ideal.
JP: But is it true you don’t even vote?
RB: Yeah, no I don’t vote.
JP: Well how do you have any authority to talk about politics?
RB: Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and serves only a few people. I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means, alternate political systems.
JP: They being…?
RB: Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy! I had to a do a magazine last week, I’ve had a lot on me plate. But, I say, here’s the thing it shouldn’t do…Shouldn’t destroy the planet.Shouldn’t create massive economic  disparity.Shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people.The burden of proof is on the people with power, not on people doing a magazine.
JP: How do you imagine people get power?
RB: Well I imagine there are hierarchical systems that have been maintained through generations…
JP: They get power by being voted in – you can’t even be arsed to vote…
RB: Well you say that Jeremy, there’s quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within the…
JP: Within a democracy that’s how it works.
RB: Well I don’t think it’s working very well, given that the planet is being destroyed, given there is economic disparity  to a huge degree. What are you saying? That there’s no alternative? There’s no alternative to this system?
JP: No I’m not saying that. If you can’t be arsed to vote, why should we be bothered to listen to your point of view?
RB: You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that i’m not voting out of apathy, I’m not voting out of absolute weariness and indifference and exhaustion to the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations now and has now reached fever pitch where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political class so voting is tacit complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.
JP: Well why don’t you change that then?
RB: Well I’m trying to.
JP: Well why don’t you start by voting.
RB: I don’t think it works. People have voted already and that’s what’s created the paradigm.
JP: When did you last vote?
RB: Never.
JP: You’ve never ever voted?
RB: No. Do you think that’s really bad?
JP: So, what, you struck an attitude before the age of 18…
RB: Well I was busy being a drug addict at that time becaus I come from the social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that really just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population…
JP: You’re blaming the political class that you had a drug problem?
RB: No, I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is under served by the current political system and drug addiction is one of the problems it creates when you have huge under served populations, you get drug problems, and also feel like they don’t want to engage with the current political system because they see that it doesn’t work for them, they see that it makes no difference, they see that they are not served…
JP: Of course it doesn’t work for them if they don’t bother to vote…
RB: Jeremy, darling, I’m saying the apathy doesn’t come from us the people, the apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs, they are only interested in servicing the corporations. Look ain’t the Tories taking the EU to court because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Is that what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, isn’t it? So why am I going to tune in for that?
JP: You don’t believe in democracy do you. You want a revolution, don’t you?
RB: The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass. We’re exploiting poor people all over the world. The genuine legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed.
JP: All of those things may be true, but…
RB: They are true!
JP: But you took… I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.
RB: Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard – it’s gorgeous. And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do! Grow it longer, tangle it into your armpit hair!
JP: You are a very trivial man…
RB: You think i’m trivial? A minute ago you were on about a revolution, I’m bouncing about all over the place…
JP: No, I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution, many people want a revolution, but I’m asking you what it would be like…
RB: Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor. Where 300 richest Americans have the same wealth as 85 million poorest Americans. Where there is an underserved, exploited underclass that are being continually ignored. Where welfare is being slashed. While Cameron and Osborne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to receive their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying in the New Statesman.
JP: What i’m saying, what’s the scheme? You talk vaguely about revolution. What is it?
RB: I think a socialist egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and heavy responsibility for energy companies and any companies that are exploiting the environment, I think they should be taxed… I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron says profit isn’t a dirty word. I say profit is a filthy word. Because where there is profit there is also deficit and the system currently doesn’t address these ideas. And so why would anyone vote for it? Why would anyone be interested in it?
JP: Who would administer these taxes?
RB: I think there needs to be a central administrative system….
JP: A government? There needs to be a government?
RB: Yes! Well maybe call them something different, the admin bods, so they don’t get ahead of themselves.
JP: And how would they be chosen?
RB: Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here with you in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system, I’m merely pointing out…
JP: You’re calling for a revolution.
RB: Yeah, absolutely. I’m calling for change. I’m calling for alternatives.
JP: There are many people who would agree with you. The current system is not engaging with your sorts of problems. Yes and they feel apathetic, but if they were to take you seriously and not to vote…
RB: Yeah that’s one thing. Don’t vote, don’t bother to vote. Cos it will get to a point where these valves, these cosy little valves of recycling and Prius turn up it stops us reaching a point where ‘this is enough’. Stop voting, wake up, be in reality. Time to be in reality now. Why vote? We know it’s not going to make a difference. We know that already.
JP: But it does make a difference.
RB: I make more impact at West Ham United, cheering them on. And they lost to City, unnecessarily, sadly.
JP: Well now you’re being facetious.
RB: Well facetiousness has the same value as seriousness.
JP: You’re not going to solve world problems by facetiousness
RB: We’re not going to solve them with the current system. At least facetiousness is funny.
JP: Sometimes.
RB: Yeah, sometimes, Jeremy. Now listen, you’ve spent your whole career berating and haranguing politicians and when someone like me, a comedian, says yeah they’re all worthless what’s the point in any of them, you have a go at me because I’m not poor any more.
JP: No, i’m not having a go at you about that. I’m saying why would they take you seriously when you’re so unspecific…
RB: You don’t have to take me… well firstly I don’t mind if you don’t take me seriously, I’m just here to draw attention to a few ideas, I just want to have a little bit of a laugh. I’m saying there are plenty of people with far better ideas who are far better qualified than I am and who are far better qualified, more importantly, than people who are currently doing that job, because they’re not attempting to solve these problems, they’re not. They’re attempting to placate the population. The measures that are being taken around climate change are indifferent, will not solve problems…
JP: Is it possible that they as human beings are simply overwhelmed by the scale of the problem?
RB: Not really. Well possibly. Well it maybe that but that’s just semantics. Whether overwhelmed or tacitly maintaining it because of habitual… Mate, this is what I noticed when I was in that Houses of Parliament. It’s decorated exactly the same as Eton, exactly the same as Oxford. Certain people go in there and think ‘oh this makes me nervous’ and another type of people go in and say ‘this is how it should be!’. And I think that’s got to change now, we can no longer have erroneous, duplicitous system kept in place. ONly systems that serve the population and the planet, can be allowed to survive. Not ones that serve elites, be they political or corporate elites, and this is what’s currently happening.
JP: You don’t really believe that…
RB: I completely believe that. Don’t look at me all weary, like you’re at a fireside with a pipe and your beard.
JP: Well Ed Miliband wasn’t at Eton…
RB: But he went to the same primary school as Boris though…
JP: Well he did, then he went to a comprehensive school in North London.
RB: Well that’s very good, that’s all well and good. But within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough, so you can well understand public disturbances, public dissatisfaction, when there are not genuine changes and genuine alternatives being offered. I say when there is a genuine alternative, then vote for that. But until then, don’t bother. Why pretend, why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion.
JP: Because by the time someone comes along who you think it might be worth voting for, it might be too late.
RB: I don’t think so because the time is now, these movements are already occurring everywhere, we’re told that communication is instantaneous. The Occupy movement made a difference even if only it introduced to the popular public lexicon, the idea of the 1% versus the 99%. People are aware for the first time in a generation of massive corporate and economic exploitation. These subjects are not nonsense and these subjects are not being addressed. No-one’s doing anything about tax havens, no-one’s doing anything about their political affilitations or the financial affiliations of the Conservative Party, so until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious? Why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people who are absolutely disaffected to vote? Why would you? Aren’t you bored? Aren;t you more bored than anyone, talking to them for years, listening to their lies? One gets in, then another gets in, while the problem continues? Why are we contributing to this facade?
JP: I’m surprised you can be facetious when you can be that angry about it.
RB: Yeah I am angry. I am angry. Because for me it’s real. FOr me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I turn up at a church fete for. For me it’s what I come from. This is what I care about.
JP: Do you see any hope?
RB: Yeah totally, there’s going to be a revolution. It’s going to happen. I ain’t got a flicker of doubt. This is the end. It’s time to wake up. I remember I see you in that programme where you look at your ancestors where your gran had to brass herself, where she got fucked over by the aristocrats who ran her gaff. You cried because you knew it was unfair, it was unjust. What was that, a century ago? That’s happening now. I come from a woman who’s been treated like that. I’ve just been talking to a woman today who’s been treated like that. If we can engage that feeling, instead of some moment of lachrymose sentimentality trotted out on the TV for people…emotional porn…if we can engage those feelings, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an actor? I mean, I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.
The video is shared by BBC Newsnight via Youtube


  1. Rod says:

    Russel Brand for Mayor of London.

  2. Robert says:

    I think he’s right it;s been a total waste of my time voting

  3. Lesley Anne Burton says:

    But he’s right. Voting makes you complicit in a political system that is not working. What is it we vote for? At this point in history, usually the lesser of two evils! Voting is a con to make us believe we are partners with Government and actually have some power. It is becoming evident how pathetic that idea is!!

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