I've always had mixed feelings about Russell Brand. I applaud his recovery from drug abuse and his subsequent dedication to helping others and changing our laws on drugs. He seems to want real change in British politics, which I wholeheartedly agree with. But on the other hand, I simply cannot condone his view that voting is pointless, nor that our current political system is beyond help.
Do I think that Brand has given due consideration to how his revolution would be brought about? No. But does that mean we should completely write him off? Absolutely not.
I'm always delighted when politics is discussed by people other than politicians. Real political change and engagement requires the rest of us to put pressure on those in charge and fortunately, our democracy allows us to do just that. Although he may not have the answers, Brand is certainly asking the right questions. Seeing as the government haven't managed to sort our country out yet, it seems harsh to criticize Brand for not having the solutions. The condescension which Brand has received for opening his mouth only serves to cement the feeling that many have that they are not 'qualified' to speak about politics, or that 'they don't know enough'.
Although he may not have the answers, Brand is certainly asking the right questions. Seeing as the government haven't managed to sort our country out yet, it seems harsh to criticize Brand for not having the solutions.
That's not to say that Brand's ideas shouldn't be subject to the same Paxman-style scrutiny as everyone else. But the man is using his celebrity to spark real debate about inequality in our country, which is a whole lot better than many celebrities who use their fame to flog their latest perfume. And frankly, many young people are more likely to sit up and take notice of someone like Brand than they are of Westminster's elite. He's funny, engaging and is taking on the big issue that our politicians are afraid of: does our current democracy work for everyone?
Let us not forget too, that Brand is not just talking the talk. He has supported firefighters on strike, the E15 mums (who were thrown out of a hostel for young mothers), and led a rent hike protest in east London. He has proved himself to be a man of action; he now needs to figure out what he's fighting for as well as what he is against.
Brand is right that we deserve more from our political system. His manifesto needs considerable work, but as someone who has worked his way up from the bottom, he is more than qualified to throw his hat into the ring.
This post first appeared in The Gryphon