Russell Brand backs Jeremy Corbyn in Labour leadership race

Comedian turned political activist endorses the leftwing frontrunner and mocks warnings that the party would face annihilation under him

Russell Brand has endorsed Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership race.

In the latest edition of his online television programme The Trews, which was published on Tuesday and has so far been viewed more than 76,000 times, the comedian and political activist listed the reasons Corbyn was the right candidate for the job and made light of Tony Blair’s comments that Labour would face “annihilation” were the leftwinger to win. Other Labour veterans to have issued similar warnings include Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown.

Brand said: “This Jeremy Corbyn, he’s mad isn’t he, with his railing against austerity and being against the Iraq war – which we definitely should have done – and being against bombing Syria and opposing benefit caps and warning against the dangers of immigration controls and wanting to scrap Trident and wanting to provide free education for young British people and challenging sexism and thinking half of MPs should be women and that the Cabinet should be elected and believing in renationalising energy companies and rail so that they can be correctly regulated in harmony with the ecology, and wanting to bring in rent controls in London and build 240,000 more homes each year and reduce the deficit with a progressive tax and reintroduce 50% higher rate tax for high earning people and disagree with the monarchy but saying he won’t fight it. What an absolute lunatic.”

He joked that what the country really needed was an elder statesman “who’s run a proper government with a nice accent”, a reference to Blair.

Brand endorsed Ed Miliband before May’s general election after interviewing the Labour leader at his home in north London. Miliband framed the interview as a bid to break though to Brand’s 10 million Twitter followers and 100,000-plus YouTube subscribers, many of whom were assumed to share the comedian’s aversion towards the political establishment.

Having previously vowed never to vote, Brand surprised his fans and commentators by throwing his weight behind Miliband and urging viewers to vote Labour. Just four days after the endorsement, however, Brand withdrew his support, saying that he had been “caught up in some mad The Thick of It” moment.

He told his viewers that he did not want to become a “de facto spokesman for people who don’t vote” and pledged to stop talking about politics, but it appears he could not help being lured back into political discourse by the current contest.

“The other candidates in the Labour leadership election – and I don’t really want to be involved in leadership elections or voting type stuff any more – are interchangeable, even though they’re different genders,” Brand said. “I think I’ve met some of them, but they all sort of just float around. If anybody puts their head above the parapet and talks out on behalf of ordinary people, unions, people coming together, talks about jobs, houses, they’re attacked en masse.

“So, you know, bloody hell! Jeremy Corbyn would be a better kind of new Labour. The fear would be, can party politics ever impact the will of the people?”

Registration for membership or support for the Labour Party ended on 12 August, and results will be announced at a special conference on 12 September.


Nadia Khomami

The GuardianTramp

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