I have a great deal of time for Russell Brand, not just because he comes from Grays, Thurrock which is my home town, and he proudly proclaims he's one of us. What I like about him is he never fails to place himself in the same trench as the dispossessed, or those under attack from what I regarded as a heartless Neo liberal, class prejudiced Coalition government and those they represent.
Nor is Russell cowered by threats to his career by being identified with the trials, tribulations and campaigns of working class people. As we witnessed with his support for families on the New Era Estate in Hackney, who were defending the right to remain in their homes after their landlord, who had links to the Tories, sold them off to US assets strippers who planned to evict dozens of families and more than treble rents for the rest.
Neither is he afraid of raising contentious issues which other celebrities wouldn't touch with a barge pole for fear of a media backlash. As when campaigning against the infantile war on drugs, which has failed so miserably to reduce the importation and consumption of illicit drugs, while criminalising far to many of our young people. As Russell himself said, it's time to look again at the laws covering illicit drug, as has already happened with some success within a number of US States, Portugal and South America.
He's a man who is completely comfortable within his own shoes, and amongst his own class, what you get is what's on the tin, warts and all.
Having said this I feel Russell was badly mistaken when he said there is no point in voting. Whilst I share his contempt for many of our mainstream politicians, hardly any come from working class backgrounds, and far to many from the same elitist background as David Cameron, public school and Oxbridge educated.
A phone call from daddy's friend helped them gain an internship, a foothold in the world of work, and later helped them climb the greasy political pole, whether they have the necessary experience and attributes to lead the nation or not.
I doubt I need to remind Russell the Tory led coalition is one of, if not the most reactionary government in his adult life. If returned to office on May 7, Cameron has promised another 12 billion pounds of cuts, which would prove disastrous for the very people Russell supports, including a great many of those who live in his home town.
While I've never been a member of the LP and are never likely to become one, there's undoubtedly clear blue water between the Labour's electoral commitments and those of Cameron's Tories. While the Tories have promised ever more cuts to the Welfare state, further privatisation of the NHS, and tax cuts for the most wealthy.
Labour calls for an ending of the hated Bedroom Tax, more money for the NHS and less privatisation, an end to the coalition's attempt to reduce if not dismantle the Welfare State, an end to non-dom tax dodging, more housing association and council house building, and no more unnecessary foreign wars which benefit no one but the financial, industrial, military and political complex which has increased its influence massively since 9/11.
Milliband is not offering a socialist paradise for sure, but given the outcome of this election may be decided in marginal constituency like Thurrock, surely it's time for Russell to change his mind about not voting and use his considerable influence, especially amongst young people, to call for an anti Tory vote within Thurrock and throughout the nation.
In Thurrock this would mean supporting the LP whose candidate Polly Billington is best placed to defeat the Tories and UKIP. Elsewhere it would mean supporting the most viable anti Tory candidate, whether they are the Greens, LP, SNP, Sinn Féin or Plaid Cymru. Across the UK there are viable left progressive candidates from all these parties standing in opposition to the reactionary policies of the Tories, UKIP, and the Lib Dem orange book Tories.
Whoever gains power on the 7th May there will still be a need for extra-parliamentary activities which Russell excels at, but I would ask him to consider this; who will look more favourable upon working class demands? A Tory, UKIP, or Lib-Dem coalition led by David Cameron and George Osborne, or a Miliband led LP administration which is supported and held to account by Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Left LP MPs? To me it’s a no brainer, for the parliamentary numbers alone would hopefully ensure a Miliband government would give a more sympathetic hearing to the policies and issues we both believe in?
Russell its time for you to say vote for the most viable anti Tory candidate even if it means voting Labour. Sure a Miliband administration will be far from perfect, but it will be a damn sight better than the neo-liberal, class prejudiced, ideologically driven fanatics who have governed us for the last five years.