The Labour leader has gotten flack after appearing with Britain's wealthiest anticapitalist iconoclast. Was he right to do it?by Josh Lowe / April 29, 2015 / Leave a comment
There’s a new most dangerous person in Britain according to the Conservative party, and it isn’t Nicola Sturgeon—it’s Russell Brand, whose house Labour leader Ed Miliband was spotted leaving in the dead of night earlier this week. The Conservatives responded swiftly with David Cameron branding Miliband a “joke” and some right wing commentators even suggesting that a future Prime Minister shouldn’t be watching Brand’s videos, let alone meeting him. This seems a bit extreme—politicians do all sorts of things in the run up to an election. Tony Blair once played a cameo in a Russian soap opera, though only after his spin doctor Alastair Campbell insisted he be allowed to say “education, education, education.”
In reality, this was just a media spot—Ed was doing an interview with Brand, whose YouTube show The Trews is watched by more than a million subscribers. So let’s judge it as such; will Ed lose or gain from his association with the floppy-haired philosopher king?
On the plus side; there’s those subscribers, and their friends who they’ll share it with. Brand speaks to the “young people,” and the “young people” are one of the constituencies Labour needs to convince next Thursday. After the Lib Dem student vote collapsed in 2010, for example, Labour should have stepped in to take much of it, but they’ve since had to fight off those pesky Greens, who promise to completely scrap tuition fees, and don’t do unstudenty things such as produce misunderstood mugs promising to cut immigration. Since many “young people” view TV as a large-format Netflix dispenser and print newspapers as indecipherable artefacts from the olden days, a YouTube interview is a good choice to reach young floating voters.
Watch the full interview:
Miliband gives a pretty good account of himself in the interview on issues that matter to many in that group. He’s always been a good diagnostician of the powerlessness which many Britons feel, and he did well here to remain collected while matching some of Brand’s ire about bankers, multinational corporations and tax dodgers. One question—on exactly the kind of media ownership controls Miliband wants to introduce—may as well have been planted. His embarrassing Blair-style glottal stops and the fact that he seems to have a tap growing out of his head…