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Russell Brand v the Sun: long may the war continue

When I was poor and I complained about inequality, people said I was bitter. Now I’m rich and I complain about inequality, they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.”

Normally something to pin on your tumblr, this week it’s become something of a prophecy. Russell Brand was ambushed on Channel 4 news (two million views and rising) for having the temerity to stand with New Era Estate residents against the sale of their homes to American-based property sepculators. Scenting an opportunity to shift a few papers, The Sun joined C4 with front page attacks on Brand on Wednesday and Thursday. And so it came to pass that the Dirty Digger’s tabloid terriers went to war with Russell Brand.

I pity the fools.

Brand has segued from comedian to a campaigning voice-of-a-generation figure. He is a bit marmite, but I like him and so do quite a few yoof-types. And he’s using his celebrity to raise awareness about working class struggles that would otherwise not have passed muster as far as the media’s gatekeepers are concerned. Best of all, he’s not doing the millionaire rockstar pretend-friend-of-the-poor thing while body-swerving taxes. He may be a touch narcissistic and have some notorious blind spots, but he’s standing up for the class he comes from.

How does this compare with the self-styled paper of working class Britain? To be sure, on every movement, campaign and achievement of, by and for those people – our people; for every voice raised against the inequity, privilege and power; on every measure that has made a modest improvement in the quality and standard of living of working class people, time after time The Sun has set its lying, ugly face against them. Yes, they were even against the minimum wage. So for The Sun to call anyone out as a hypocrite demands an expansive memory hole large enough to swallow their previous multitudes of scabby deeds.

As Murdoch’s minions take to the field against Brand, it’s not their appalling record that will lose them the war. You don’t have to be a sociologist of the media to know that tabloid campaigns against a new folk devil have a tendency of backfiring. What The Sun have done is take a popular, radical (and radicalising) celebrity, let off the heavy artillery and are moving in for the mop up. Yet their attacks are complete duds. For the kids who are having to grow up with The Sunlike I did – having the straight, dull world of parents and papers moaning about the antics of a dynamic, anti-establishment comedian is exactly the kind of publicity Brand’s celebrity feeds off. Every shell The Sun fires off not so much rebounds on their own trenches, but falls haphazardly onto their supply lines. By attacking and rubbishing a popular youth figure the paper is alienating many hundreds of thousands of potential future readers. They’re smashing up, churning up their own market.

The Sun has launched a war it cannot win. I therefore hope it continues for a long, long time.

This article first appeared at All that is Solid


  1. Barry Ewart says:

    Russell is a decent human being and he is on our side so should be defended. But as a working socialist I see the rich and sections of the middle class flooding out to vote Tory and RB encouraging the super- exploited younger generation not to vote thus taking away one of heir potential powers and thus probably unintentionally helping the rich and powerful. But perhaps RB needs to learn you don’t lead revolutions they start from below and you follow them and leaders emerge. The problem with the early bourgeois socialist leaders like Lenin (and would be top down undemocratic leaders like Trotsky) and mass murder Stalin was as leaders they took the power for themselves when genuine socialist leaders would have been facilitators – keeping the power with the masses. Oh and as for The Sun, Garbage In – Garbage Out!

  2. Rod says:

    Well done Russell, keep it up.

    The war-mongering, austerity-promising LibLabCon enthusiasts will no doubt also take pot-shots at you.

    Just carry on doing what you do: voicing concerns the Establishment would prefer remained unheard and thus making an important contribution to the national debate.

  3. Genni Pavone says:

    Thankyou Russell, you are speaking for most of us, please do never stop. One day we will get rid of the cancer created by the corrupt and immoral political cast and it will be because of the selfless effort of activists like us… We want SOCIAL EVOLUTION !!!

  4. Ruth Grace Vizor says:

    Russell Brilliant observations of life
    Please help Carer’s Rights Respite Funding hidden and worst Care scenario described as a money making aspect
    Ruth Grace Vizor Brighton
    I know you from Camden years ago and a retreat
    Think your input could change. My mother’s life the system has devalued our. Way of Being
    Help. If you are Looking for a Challenge
    Blessings Be Yours
    Always in Respect
    Ruth and Rosie Vizor

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