The following is a transcript of Russell Brand’s much publicised and awaited pre-election message, due to be broadcast this coming Monday. If, however, the broadcast ends up with a different content, then that is because it has been changed in the hours between now (Saturday pm) and then.
(Note: to see a transcript of the full, unedited version of the Brand-Miliband meeting, click here.)
Hi. Welcome to my pre-election message.
Firstly, I want to say that I’m not going to advise anyone whether to vote or not, or which political party to support. However, what I will say is that I will not be voting – not now, not ever. My views are still the same: by voting you end up legitimising a broken and largely corrupt system that protects the rich and powerful. Anyway, I believe that there are other ways of being politically active and helping to change society – ways which are far, far better than merely placing a tick on a ballot sheet every five years.
To put it bluntly, we need a social revolution – that does not mean millions on the streets, but a coalescence of hundreds or even thousands of small-scale, grass-roots-driven social revolutions, up and down the country – in housing estates, community centres, workplaces, etc.
Personally, I get my inspiration from the Zapatistas of Mexico. They had this really cool revolution in Chiapas province. It all began just over twenty years back as an uprising. But the police and army stopped all that, so the Zapatistas disappeared. Except they didn’t really disappear, but vanished into the jungles and formed alliances with the local Mayan indigenous peoples. Over a twenty year period they slowly created their own alternative society, based on social justice, equality and no hierarchies – not just in a few villages, but in towns all across the province. Then, two years back, the Zapatistas and their Mayan partners reappeared in the cities, marching in silence, so telling everyone in great dignity that they had not disappeared at all and that their revolution was successful and unstoppable.
In Britain I have been inspired by our own social revolutionaries. Over the years and centuries these have included those who took part in the 14th century Peasants Revolt, as well as the Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and people like Mary Wolstonecroft, Percy Shelley, William Godwin, William Morris and George Orwell. More recently we have seen what can be done in the cause of social housing when people in London organised to stop a housing estate being taken over by developers. And I was proud to help in my own way in that struggle.
So in my view what we have to do now is aim for a society based not on hierarchies, or capitalism, or controlled by a political elite, but one which is much more egalitarian.
And what about the seven million people eligible to vote but who did not register? The media and the politicians reckon they can’t be bothered because they’re apathetic. Some describe these non-voters as ‘disillusioned’. But ‘disillusioned’ literally means ‘without illusions’. I have no illusions about how most politicians are only in it for themselves and that those who really suffer illusions are those who vote them into power.
What’s more, all this ‘anti-austerity’ politicking is an illusion. When political parties go on about their anti-austerity policies what they mean is that they won’t go as far as the Tories in keeping the poor poor. Well, that’s not good enough. People don’t want a little bit extra here and a little bit extra there – people want the whole cake, not just the crumbs.
Now some people might say I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I’ve loads of dosh from my comedy acts. But none of us is perfect. And what I say is that if I can exploit my fame – or infamy – to help change society, then that’s all that matters.
That’s it. End of message. Or, to paraphrase the Situationists… Don’t vote: instead be realistic – demand the impossible!