Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Russell Wrong on Revolution

Jeremy Paxman may be well known for his aggressive interviews with politicians and he is perhaps most famous for his interview with Michael Howard in which he asked the same question 13 times. I would guess that most were on Jeremy's side against a politician who wasn't answering the question. However Jeremy more than met his match recently when he spoke with Russell Brand. The tables should not have been turned. Jeremy should have been able to apply just as much pressure on his interviewee, after all, Russell doesn't vote but wants political change. In fact Russell doesn't feel anyone should vote as no candidate is worthy of that vote. According to Russell, politicians are not trying to change a system that leaves a huge gap between rich and poor.

Russell is wrong in calling for revolution. He is wrong in saying that we are ready for a revolution. We aren't. Expectations have not been raised so they can't be lowered and there cannot be a strong sense of injustice to inspire revolution. Russell is also wrong to say that change cannot come about in our present system. My memory is good enough to know that the people I went to school with didn't have holidays (I didn't either). Nobody had a car. There was one television in the house, not one for every room. A trip to the theatre was a yearly event. There were no computers, no mobile phones and no home cinemas, and the only 'wet' rooms were caused by a leaking roof. I could go on but you get the picture. We are better off but I know that much more could be done and so does Russell. 

Russell will get support when he says that if big business is served before the voter then the impact of change is minimal. Where he is wrong is to think that voters under our present democracy have no influence. In a democracy individuals have the chance to change opinion and to change government, just as he has done in his interviews. Unfortunately Russell's influence may lead to a weakening of democracy. If he really wants a revolution then what will change? Russell doesn't know because he tells us that he isn't clever enough to know. Unfortunately it won't be the cleverest voices that are heard after a revolution, it will be the loudest. The main problem with Russell's thinking is that after a revolution things will almost certainly get worse.

Russell may have been told that "it was the expression of the knowledge that democracy is irrelevant that resonated" but those that told him were wrong. Democracy is highly relevant. We fought for it in the war and with attacks like this we have to defend it. As a Liberal Democrat I believe that our democracy is not good enough and I have always fought to improve it. And that's how Jeremy should have criticised Russell. Unfortunately Jeremy, as a non-voter, was on Russell's side and it came across in the interview.

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