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Brand backs Miliband on 'elites'

Published 29/04/2015

Russell Brand's meeting with Labour leader Ed Miliband
Russell Brand's meeting with Labour leader Ed Miliband

Russell Brand has backed Ed Miliband's view of how to change Britain by taking on society's "powerful elites".

The comedian said he agreed with the Labour leader that voters do not want Barack Obama-style "yes we can" euphoria, but someone who would take on the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the banks.

In an interview which focused on the power of politics to tackle inequality, Mr Miliband pledged to deliver "real, concrete, deliverable change" to tackle the "fundamental problem" that people think the country is "run for somebody else".

The Opposition leader also turned his fire on long-time adversary Mr Murdoch, saying the media mogul has lost power and underestimated the intelligence of his readership.

Mr Miliband's remarks were made during a surprise late night visit to the comedian-turned-activist's east London flat on Monday and broadcast on YouTube today.

Prime Minister David Cameron has described the pair's meeting "a joke". Viewing figures for the 15-minute interview were not available at the time of writing but it had been "liked" nearly 3,000 times on YouTube and retweeted over 1,000 times on Twitter.

Mr Cameron's remarks follow on from Brand's assertion that people should not vote because it does not make a difference, and The Trews presenter repeatedly probed Mr Miliband on the subject.

The Labour leader told Brand that change takes time.

Mr Miliband went on: "It requires pressure and it takes effort and it takes people to demand the change to happen so I'm not looking for euphoria, I'm looking for a sense of this is real, concrete, deliverable change.

"I think we're in a world where people are passed the idea of - this bloke comes along and he says vote for Ed Miliband and if I'm on Downing Street on day one, life is kind of totally turned upside down.

"Firstly I don't think people want it and secondly I don't think people would believe it. I think people want a sense that the country is run in a different way.

"The fundamental problem with this country is if people think it's run for somebody else and the somebody else is probably somebody right at the top of society, they've got the access, the influence, the power and it's not run for them, and that's what we've got to change."

Brand replied: "That is exactly it.

"What we need to feel, normal people, is that there is the will in politicians, that they are getting into politics not because of cronyism, not because of careerism, but because they want to represent ordinary people in the face of powerful elites that seem to somehow be below the grasp of ordinary politics..."

The comedian went on: "And I completely agree with you Ed, we don't want some sort of giddy 'yes we can' euphoria, we want a fella who's going to say look, I'm doing this for the right reasons, I'm prepared to take on Murdoch, I'm prepared to take on an HSBC, I'm prepared to take on the powerful elites that have got control of the Tory Party, that if the Tory Party were given any longer in charge of this country could drive it into the ground.

"The very fabric of society itself being torn apart by them and the vested interests of powerful elites. I think people don't want euphoria, I think people want security, stability and an end to that fear."

Mr Miliband replied: "I agree with you that the prospect of another five years of the Tories is incredibly dangerous."

The Labour leader also highlighted his criticism of Mr Murdoch after his now-defunct News Of The World newspaper was caught up in the phone hacking scandal, and said he would look at measures on media ownership if he becomes prime minister.

Mr Miliband said: "I've spoken out, I've stood up to Rupert Murdoch on phone hacking and what happened to ordinary members of the public who were victims of phone hacking and intrusion and all those things.

"I'm not diminishing Rupert Murdoch. He's much less powerful than he used to be. The British people have a lot more sense than some of his papers give them credit for."

Mr Miliband also directly criticised Brand for saying people should not vote.

"The problem I've had with some of the things that you've said is that the first, that no change, it's just quite wrong," the Labour leader said. "This is wrong, change has happened and it will happen."

Following further exchanges, Brand conceded: "Politics is a given, people is a given, how are we going to work harmoniously to deliver what the people of Britain need right now?"

At the end of the interview, Brand said he thought Mr Miliband "understands the way the country feels".

The comedian said: "I think it says a lot about Ed Miliband, he understands the way the media works right now, the way the country feels at the moment, the way that people feel, that he was prepared to come round here and talk to us."

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