BY JAMIE KNERR Russell Brand, the infamous cad/ comedian/ actor-cum-political firebrand, has been taking some heat the past 48 hours or so. On his video op-ed show “The Trews” Brand has made no secret about his distrust in big government, overtly stating over and over that the system is, and always has been, rigged against the interests of the common man. A main pillar of his ideology has been outright rejection of that system, in which participation only makes one complicit in the crimes being committed by our elected officials. He has strongly and repeatedly advocated AGAINST even voting.
This week Brand did a 180, causing severe whiplash among many of his long-time followers, by publicly endorsing Britain’s Labour Party, the UK equivalent of the Democratic party. One of the bitterest pills to swallow about Russell Brand’s 11th-hour conversion to Big Party Politics — coming out in support of Ed Miliband a scant 24 hours before the U.K. election — was that it happened AFTER voter registration had already closed, thus making it too late to promote activism or galvanize voters who’ve been repeatedly encouraged by him NOT to register OR vote until then.
The sudden, unexpected shift has left many disillusioned who counted themselves as fans of Brand’s and/or who share similar viewpoints. The move also didn’t help discourage the already-floating opinion that maybe Brand has been disingenuous (or worse, a shill) in his campaigns to shape Britain’s political consciousness and bring about substantive reform all along. Conspiracy theories abound. Is it mere chance that Brand recently issued his version of the children’s tale “The Pied-Piper”? Is Brand in the Illuminati? A MI5 psy-ops agent? There’s been loads of banter about his “33” tattoo, his tenuous connections to the Rothschilds, etc. lately. He laughs off those stories, as perhaps we all should. And I should probably stop visiting all those dark-web conspiracy sites so often at 4am.
In recent installments of The Trews, Brand interviewed the Green Party folks and, of course, Miliband. Anyone watching those interviews knowing of Brand’s unflagging support for “underdog” causes was justifiably surprised/shocked by his eventual endorsement of Labour, whom he’s often pilloried, perhaps rightly, as being just a cog in the corrupt and ineffectual political machine. Frankly, the Green people seem much more aligned with Brand’s stated views, adding to the sense of disbelief surrounding his last-minute change of heart.
Yesterday’s poll results came as a gut-punch, not only to idealists but to reticent optimists like me, who believed real change was not just on the distant horizon, but imminent. The numbers had Labour and Tory party running neck-and-neck on Wednesday night, but by Thursday night the exit polls revealed a grisly bloodbath. Miliband announced his resignation from the Labour Party today. In the latest episode of The Trews, Brand defends his somewhat jarring shift to support of Miliband by saying he got caught up momentarily, thinking he had the power to influence public opinion, and that his was a ‘lesser-of-two-evils’ choice. I dunno. By now it seems he should know he has great influence on, and appeal to, a growing audience eager to hear the point of view he espoused over the last couple of years (he has 10 million Twitter followers, after all). Many of those people are now disillusioned by this odd turn of events, and even regard him as a bit of a traitor. I prefer a more charitable stance: he’s just a guy, fallible like all of us, and just as susceptible to the dangers of hubris.
Anonymous, or at least one wing of it, seems to have turned on Russell Brand.