Russell Brand calls the Green party "fantastic". Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The Green party welcomes Russell Brand's support

Following the comedian and campaigner's complimentary remarks, the Greens open the door to an official endorsement.

The Green party has opened the door to an official endorsement from Russell Brand.

Brand, the controversial comedian and self-styled revolutionary campaigner, made his first explicit remarks about the party publicly – and he was very complimentary:

I think the Green party seem fantastic. If only there were the constitutional reform to make them electable. And in fact the widespread democratic change so that people can participate in [such] politics...

He was asked his opinion of the party in a video interview by freelance journalist Alex Rafael Rose.

Watch from 5.29:

Although Brand has worked with, and praised, the Green MP Caroline Lucas on drugs policy before, he hasn't until now given his view on her party in light of the upcoming election.

There have been recent reports that the Greens wouldn't welcome Brand's help, following speculation that the party embodies his political philosophy and that he could become the "Green Nigel Farage". In January, the Mail quoted a senior party source saying his association with the party would be "toxic".

But either this view has changed, or it was never held in the first place, as a party spokesperson now tells me:

It's obviously up to Russell Brand whether to give our party an 'official' endorsement but it is of course great to have the support of someone who is campaigning on issues that are vital to the future of this country – inequality, rapidly rising house prices, and our outdated drugs policy – and providing a voice for so many people feeling cut off and disaffected by a political system that fails to represent them.

His support, along with the recent decision made by the anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe to leave Labour and join the Green Party, shows that more and more people are seeing political change as not only desirable but possible.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Sadiq Khan gives Jeremy Corbyn's supporters a lesson on power

The London mayor doused the Labour conference with cold electoral truths. 

There was just one message that Sadiq Khan wanted Labour to take from his conference speech: we need to be “in power”. The party’s most senior elected politician hammered this theme as relentlessly as his “son of a bus driver” line. His obsessive emphasis on “power” (used 38 times) showed how far he fears his party is from office and how misguided he believes Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are.

Khan arrived on stage to a presidential-style video lauding his mayoral victory (a privilege normally reserved for the leader). But rather than delivering a self-congratulatory speech, he doused the conference with cold electoral truths. With the biggest personal mandate of any British politician in history, he was uniquely placed to do so.

“Labour is not in power in the place that we can have the biggest impact on our country: in parliament,” he lamented. It was a stern rebuke to those who regard the street, rather than the ballot box, as the principal vehicle of change.

Corbyn was mentioned just once, as Khan, who endorsed Owen Smith, acknowledged that “the leadership of our party has now been decided” (“I congratulate Jeremy on his clear victory”). But he was a ghostly presence for the rest of the speech, with Khan declaring “Labour out of power will never ever be good enough”. Though Corbyn joined the standing ovation at the end, he sat motionless during several of the applause lines.

If Khan’s “power” message was the stick, his policy programme was the carrot. Only in office, he said, could Labour tackle the housing crisis, air pollution, gender inequality and hate crime. He spoke hopefully of "winning the mayoral elections next year in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham", providing further models of campaigning success. 

Khan peroration was his most daring passage: “It’s time to put Labour back in power. It's time for a Labour government. A Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street. A Labour Cabinet. Labour values put into action.” The mayor has already stated that he does not believe Corbyn can fulfil this duty. The question left hanging was whether it would fall to Khan himself to answer the call. If, as he fears, Labour drifts ever further from power, his lustre will only grow.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.