Jesus flippin’ Christ!!! Just watched Milibrand: The Interview. Apart from the repeated sexism that flowed from ‘heart in the right place, but in need of an education on gender equality’, Russell’s mouth, it played out like the best propaganda speech Labour could ever have hoped for. Ed has become eloquent. He must have won over a hell of a lot of ‘to vote or not to vote’ fence-sitters with his carefully agreeable approach. If Labour whips another few ballot-papers from betwixt the fingers of the Cons, it will be a small mercy, but it will be down to Russell. How is not being willing to engage with the current political system conducive to interviewing its champions? If Russell wants to maintain his stance that party-politics in the UK has become farcical and irrelevant, he probably shouldn’t be thrusting home the opposite message by inviting politicians to share his platform.
Last Tuesday, I went to see The Emperor’s New Clothes: Michael Winterbottom and Russell Brand’s new docu-flick. It wasn’t un-enjoyable, but as a friend rightly pointed out to me today, the message behind Brand’s relentless haranguing of city bank doormen was somewhat blurred in translation. Demonstrating Bankers ‘facelessness within fortresses’ as a method of protection from accountability was the point, explained Brand post-screening, in the Live by Satellite link-up interview. But watching the baffled, unemployment-fearing workers trying to deal with Brand’s impromptu interrogations made for uncomfortable viewing. The ‘Shop A Banker’ bus; a vehicle disguised as a mobile A-board emblazoned with the faces of the banking-world criminal elite seemed better pitched in line with Russell’s Trews gags. On the whole, comedy was lacking but statistics were a-plenty, and to purposefully misquote Sir Francis Bacon, ‘information is power’.
Halfway through this morning’s gleefully anticipated Woman’s Hour Election Debate, I lost heart and fled from the radio to buy crumpets. Listeners were treated to a party-policy competition between female representatives from all seven of the majors. Topics chosen were issues polled as those most pertinent to the women of Great Britain, beginning with the NHS. At the point when I left the house, Jenni and Jane were doing a grand job of umpiring to make sure everyone had their fair share of airtime, and this I noted was made fairly easy because of the courteous manner in which the female politicians spoke to one another. Neither snort, nor neigh, jeer nor jibe erupted from my speakers. It couldn’t have been further from the farmyard antics of Prime Minister’s Question Time.
(Apologies if there was a brawl post 10.15, I was juggling jam and peanut butter by the toaster and didn’t bother listening to the rest. But if things did turn ugly, I’d speculate that the most likely candidates for a punch-up at Broadcasting House today were UKIP’s Diane “the only way is a moratorium on immigration” James and Labour’s Harriet “I am in the Labour party because I believe in equality” Harman. Actually, it could have been any of them except Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood who sounded far too depressed and defeated to bother or The Green’s Caroline Lucas who exuded the Zen-like quality of not being very forthcoming.)
And the reason I plumped for crumpets over policies was because all of the women were pushing more or less the same list of delights without going into detail about where the funding would come from (or in the Green’s case, without the sums appearing to add up – déjà-vu): more funds for the NHS, more help with childcare, up the minimum wage, improve living standards, affordable housing, boost the economy, flying pigs, Louboutin’s for every household, the Milktray man on a stick, a summer bikini-body personal trainer allowance, pizza that makes you thin and anything else they thought the listeners might want to hear. Theresa May fucked-up at one point, which made things a bit more interesting. She gave a ‘tough-titties, we’ve got to tighten our belts’-style response to a Nurse on the phone-in whose wages had been slashed by £280 per month under the current government. Now hearing that was educational; a genuine numerical illustration of the rich stealing from the poor and bleeting that’s what is necessary in order to reduce national debt.
So for me, the upshot is this: I’ll be voting Green because I live in the Brighton Pavilion constituency and I think it’s important that the far left retains a seat in parliament. If I lived anywhere else in the country I’d be voting tactically to keep the Tories out. By the next election I just hope I’ll feel that the collective consciousness of our society is ready to engage with Russell Brand / Owen Jones-style notions of taking “positive direct action” and responsibility for creating the changes we want to see around us – outside of the broken political system. Perhaps it’s a failure on my part not to believe in our ability to overcome apathy just yet and get off our arses to construct a new system, but that’s where I’m at right now.
Right, I’m off to bed with Noam Chomsky’s On Anarchy. The least we can do is try to educate ourselves in the alternatives to capitalism gone mad; austerity cuts, banking bail-outs, big-businesses making puppets of politicians, tax-scam properties remaining empty whilst people sleep on the streets, unaffordable housing, benefits cuts, privatisation, lies, lies, lies and false promises…. Sleep tight.