“I will engage with anyone, anyhow, to persuade more people to turn out and vote” states Labour leader Ed Miliband in what can only be seen as an attempt to bridge the gap between the politicians and the people. It is not clear how this act can be so strongly condemned by the media; especially considering the content of the interview has not yet been released. As Russell Brand again takes centre stage of the political arena he will today be releasing the footage of his interview with Ed Miliband to his 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube.
The only newspapers who reach a wider audience in the UK than Brand’s following are The Sun, who reach approximately 13.5 million readers and The Mail, who closely follow with approximately 12 million. With other papers such as The Guardian and The Independent only reaching a fraction of this, perhaps this begins to shed some light on the motivations behind the distain and aggression from the right-wing media. When you take into account Brand’s followers on twitter are now almost at the 10 million mark, this interview will encourage the disengaged people of the younger generation to connect with issues increasingly pressing in our society.
The fact that there has been such a strong negative reaction before the interview has been released reinforces the presence of elitism in society, as the focus has been on the aesthetics and social standing of the interviewer. The content has not been released yet it is being instantly dismissed. One of the questions this raises is why are the votes and opinions of Russell Brand’s followers not as valuable as the friends of George Osborne? With such dismissive statements made before anyone has the opportunity to see the interview, it is clear that the quality and the content is not as important to Tory followers as the stature of the interviewer or the people they are trying to reach. Let’s not forget, this distain is displayed by the people who won’t let the labour leader eat a bacon sandwich without finding faults and flaws to broadcast to the nation.
Miliband is appealing to an audience that others seem to ignore and Brand has provided a platform through which Miliband can tell the younger generation that their opinions matter. The videos broadcast through Brand’s YouTube channel portray a different man to the one the papers would have you believe, who often exploit a previous life of sex and drugs. Perhaps what forms the strongest argument against the interview today is Brand’s plea to young people not to vote. However, in reality what Brand broadcasts to the younger generation is to vote for a cause that you truly believe in.
Miliband’s actions have been branded a short-sited attempt to commandeer starlight from celebrity status. Perhaps as opposed to reaching new people through the potential of celebrity influence, Miliband should take a leaf out of David Cameron’s book and stand behind the comfort and familiarity of celebrities who fall within his elite social circle. (As when Cameron displayed his allegiance to Jeremy Clarkson during Top Gear’s “fracas” at the BBC, during which Clarkson split the lip of his then colleague.)
It is bewildering to begin to understand the outrage sparked by Miliband’s attempt “to engage directly with people on the issues that matter, and engage with those that say that voting doesn’t make a difference, that voting doesn’t matter”, as he has described it. As we approach the final week of campaigning before the election, the message we can take away from this reaction is that obviously Miliband should only be interviewed by Tory approved journalists and campaigners.