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Fawning luvvies as out of touch as Miliband himself

By Gail Walker

Published 12/05/2015

Russell Brand
Russell Brand

Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, Martin Freeman, Charlotte Church, JK Rowling, Steve Coogan, Paul O'Grady, Peter Capaldi et al - your boy took a HELL of a beating…

As the predictable soap of Thursday unfolded into the Greek tragedy of Friday, it was hard to suppress a certain glee at the thought of all those luvvies with runny eggs all over their faces.

All those celebrities who had the egotism to burden us with their majesty of their wisdom were shown up to be as out of touch with the people they claim to entertain as Uncool and the Gang were when it came to assessing the lives and concerns of the people they wished to govern.

Seriously, why should anyone give two hoots what a comedian who hasn't raised a laugh in over half a decade thinks? Yes, step forward Russell Brand. A flying visit from Ed and suddenly he was wooed as easily as a floozy after one too many WKDs.

Forget all that guff spouted about purposefully not voting and smashing the system, Vote Ed - he listens. How the trendies went into ecstasies - celebrity, cyberspace and anti-Toryism in one well-wrapped ball.

Some of us are old enough to recall how "the Left" favoured Derek Hatton over Neil Kinnock, regarding the Welsh leader as a sell-out; and how the Left now loathes Blairism, which brought Labour to power for nearly 20 years.

Out there beyond north London, most voters were at best nonplussed if not actively repulsed by a potential PM debasing himself looking for the support of the former presenter of Big Brother's Little Brother. I don't think Churchill or Attlee went crawling for Max Miller's or George Formby's blessing.

Of course, with typical callowness, Brand abandoned Ed when the full enormity of democracy hit. It was, the wise guru whined, "A Thick of It Moment".

Which says it all. The Thick of It - a pastiche show about pastiche politics, critically lauded, but watched by only a handful of people - "Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel/Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel/As the images unwind, like the circles that you find in /The windmills of your mind", as the late Noel Harrison had it.

Politics as postmodernist humour, as self-referential irony, as the reflection of overwhelming egos. Look at me - look how compassionate I am. JUST LOOK AT ME!

But politics isn't about that. It's about mortgages, unemployment, low wages. It's about immigration, Europe, the rise of Islam, the potential break-up of the Union. In other words, it's about unpleasant choices, not the simplicities of white and black hats.

(In Northern Ireland, for obvious reasons, celebrities don't burden us with who they place their X against. Sometimes "Whatever you say, say nothing" is little more than basic decency and modesty.)

These days being "on the Left" and being a celebrity is axiomatic. But those famous Tory endorsements of yesteryear - Kenny Everett, Steve Davis, Brucie, Tarby et al - were equally nausea-inducing. But this isn't the Eighties. Today, we have to throw in the potent freak show of the internet, really its first general election. If Twitter was an indication of public mood, Miliband would be safely in No 10 and evil Dave would be on the run in Buenos Aires.

Not to downplay its often hate-driven content, it turns out the net is largely comprised of select a-typical activists agreeing among themselves; a cyber version of angry, impotent people shouting at the TV with the rest of us listening in; a digital Spanish Inquisition ferreting out evil Tories where there is nothing but honest voters.

And it could also be a reason why the polls were so wrong. One major pollster has admitted that at least one late finding was in line with the final result, but it hadn't been published because … wait for it … it was out of line with the other polls. "Like a wheel within a wheel" indeed.

Last week was a painful reminder to return to the old decencies of yesteryear. If you're an entertainer, think of a decent gag, find a singable song, don't hector us. If you want to be a politician, then be one. Do the honourable thing like Glenda Jackson and Giles Brandreth - join a party, stand for election.

Last week, celebrity endorsements, opinion polls and the internet were shown up to be what they are: totally self-indulgent and fallible - as out of touch with the public as Miliband and Co.

And for these reasons alone at least last Thursday was a good day for our public life.

It doesn't pay to try to be a smart-ass. You'll only end up half right.

Belfast Telegraph

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