In this week's New Statesman: Russell Brand guest edit

A preview of the issue, which includes contributions from Gary Lineker, David Lynch, Naomi Klein, Rupert Everett, Amanda Palmer and Alec Baldwin, as well as an essay by Russell Brand.






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Russell Brand introduces his issue in a video for the New Statesman:


  • In a 4,500-word tour de force Russell Brand argues that while “most people do not give a f*** about politics”, they do have revolution within them
  • Naomi Klein on revolutionary science and climate change activism
  • Rupert Everett on the revolution in gay rights from the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde to gay marriage
  • Performer Amanda Palmer on crowd-funding and the revolution in artist-audience relationships
  • Gary Lineker deplores pushy parents on the touchline and calls for a revolution in the teaching of school sport
  • Noel Gallagher writes about the politicians he hates
  • Alec Baldwin on Edward Snowden, and why Americans are tired of being lied to
  • David Lynch on transcendental meditation and inner revolution
  • Activist David DeGraw calls for a do-it-yourself revolution; “modern-day shaman” Daniel Pinchbeck urges humanity to cast off its “mind forged manacles”; and best-selling author Graham Hancock hopes for a revolution in consciousness
  • Judd Apatow, Oliver Stone, Howard Marks, Martha Lane Fox and many more tell Brand what revolution means to them


In an extended essay to introduce his Revolution-themed guest-edit, Russell Brand argues we need to change the way we think before we can change the world.

Brand on the British and revolution:

“We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.”

Brand on politics:

“When people talk about politics within the existing Westminster framework I feel a dull thud in my stomach and my eyes involuntarily glaze. Like when I’m conversing and the subject changes from me and moves on to another topic. I try to remain engaged but behind my eyes I am adrift in immediate nostalgia; “How happy I was earlier in this chat,” I instantly think. I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”

On hypocrisy:

“First, though, I should qualify my right to even pontificate on such a topic and in so doing untangle another of revolution’s inherent problems. Hypocrisy. How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras’d my Essex arse with undue praise and money.”

On the left’s over-seriousness:

“I felt pretty embarrassed that my involvement [in a protest] was being questioned, in a manner which is all too common on the left. It’s been said that “the right seeks converts and the left seeks traitors”. This moral superiority that is peculiar to the left is a great impediment to momentum. It is also a right drag when you’re trying to enjoy a riot.”

“Perhaps this is why there is currently no genuinely popular left-wing movement to counter Ukip, the EDL and the Tea Party; for an ideology that is defined by inclusiveness,

socialism has become in practice quite exclusive. Plus a bit too serious, too much up its own fundament and not enough fun. The same could be said of the growing New Age spiritual movement, which could be a natural accompaniment to social progression. I’m a bit of a tree-hugging, Hindu-tattooed, veggie meditator myself but first and foremost I want to have a f***ing laugh."

On political apathy:

“Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels. The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left’s great legacy as it is dismantled around them.”

On dealing with serious issues with humour:

“Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz. The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes.”

On spiritual revolution:

“For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately godless. When the lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparkly rituals. By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised. Buckminster Fuller outlines what ought be our collective objectives succinctly: “to make the world work for 100 per cent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous co-operation without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone”. This maxim is the very essence of “easier said than done” as it implies the dismantling of our entire socio-economic machinery. By teatime.”

Read Russell Brand’s essay in full in his issue and online here



The Shock Doctrine and No Logo author Naomi Klein reports on the revolution taking place in the science world as climate change researchers, increasingly alarmed by their discoveries, decide activism is the only option:

“In order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. . . But the truth is getting out anyway. The fact that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilising life on earth is no longer something we need to read about in scientific journals. The early signs are unfolding before our eyes. And increasing numbers of us are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in Balcombe; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (at tremendous personal cost); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance large and small. . . It’s not a revolution, but it’s a start. And it might just buy us enough time to figure out a way to live on this planet that is distinctly less f**ked.”

**Read Naomi Klein’s essay in full in the issue and online from Tuesday 29 October 10:00 GMT **



In an essay addressed to his friend Russell Brand, the actor Rupert Everett, who recently played Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss, traces the history of gay rights in Britain from the playwright’s infamous imprisonment in 1895 to this year’s same-sex marriage bill - via his own experiences of the underground gay scene in London in the 1970s and 1980s.

On playing Wilde in The Judas Kiss on the day the same-sex marriage bill was passed:

“The energy in the auditorium was intense. It felt – and I was not on drugs – as if the universe had briefly stopped in its tracks to watch. As I ran on for my first scene as Oscar, into the arms of Lord Alfred Douglas (played by Freddie Fox), I felt like the crest of a wave crashing on to the stage with all the blinding tragedy of gay history in my wake – the drownings, the burials alive, the hangings, the pillorying – all the tortures invented by man in the name of God. The applause was euphoric at the end of the show, as much for the day itself as for the performance. Finally, homosexual relationships were fully and equally accepted in law. We have come a long way. As Oscar predicted, the road to freedom has been long and smeared with the blood of martyrs, and the fight’s not over yet.”

On gay rights today:

“Today the world has gone full circle. Gay people seem to be doing all the decent things the straights used to do – getting married, having babies and recycling. I feel like an old grandmother, sitting in my rocking chair, writing to you, dear Russell, during a break from my knitting. The past is all twinkling lights in the woods on a snowy night. Was it revolution? Or were we just crashing up and down on a much deeper wave, as history ploughed on regardless? Did everything change in ’67 with the new law? Was Stonewall the defining moment? Were we as free as we felt in the Seventies? Are we as free as we think we are now?”

Read Rupert Everett’s personal story in full in the issue and online on Monday 28 October



Gary Lineker argues in a column for his friend’s guest-edit that pushy parents screaming abuse from the sidelines are killing their kids’ love of football - and ultimately destroying England’s professional chances.

“It’s obvious, then, why we have a long-ball culture: the big lads who can kick it furthest are the ones that stand out. What chance for the diminutive yet gifted midfielder? No chance of him developing his tiki-taka football. The only way to get to the other end of the pitch is to belt it and then belt it again. This madness is only exacerbated by the maniacal parents on the touchline spouting nonsense at their children. The competitive nature of most mums and dads is astounding. The fear they instil in our promising but sensitive Johnny is utterly depressing. We need a parental cultural revolution. If we could just get them to shut the f*** up and let their children enjoy themselves, you would be staggered at the difference it would make.”

Read Gary Lineker’s column in full in the issue and online here



The American performer and scourge of the Daily Mail, Amanda Palmer, describes how the movement towards crowd-sourcing artistic projects is bringing about a revolution in the complex artist-audience relationship.

“The artists most fit to survive today no longer equate mystique with artistic credibility. They’re not shaking their cups for scraps; they’re busy drinking with their fans, like the old-school travelling musicians.”

“The ‘shameless’ connection that exists between new-school crowd-funding artists and our fans lies within the wider context of social media, which has led to an increasing level of intimacy. Once you’ve been in a relationship for years (hopefully), shame disintegrates. There’s a difference between asking a stranger for a handout, a friend for a favour, or a customer for a down payment. Crowdfunding artists are generally working in the third category, in the spirit of the second. It’s the blurry line between the two latter categories that makes crowd-funding difficult to explain.”

Read Amanda Palmer in full in the issue and online from 12:00 GMT on Friday 25 October



Film director David Lynch shares the secrets of transcendental meditation:

“Revolutions are usually associated with violence or force. Transcendental Meditation leads to a beautiful, peaceful revolution. A change from suffering and negativity to happiness and a life more and more free of any problems. The secret has always been within. We just need a technique that works to get us there to unfold a most beautiful future.”

Read David Lynch in full in the issue and online from 14:00 GMT on Friday 25 October



In an impassioned and angry piece, the actor Alec Baldwin considers 50 years of US intelligence and concludes enough is enough.

“The reality that the government is spying on Americans on a wholesale level, seemingly indiscriminately, doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, given the assumed imperatives of the post-9/11 security state. People seem more stricken by the fact that Barack Obama, who once vowed to close Guantanamo, has adopted CIA-NSA policies regarding domestic spying, as well as by government attempts to silence, even hunt down, the press. Americans, in terms of their enthusiasm for defending their beloved democratic principles in the face of an ever more muscular assault on those principles by the state in the name of national security, are exhausted.”

Read Alec Baldwin’s piece in full in the issue and online from 16:00 GMT on Thursday 24 October



Russell Brand asks thinkers, artists and dissidents including Judd Apatow, Ai Weiwei, Oliver Stone, and Peter Kuznick what Revolution means to them.

Judd Apatow, film-maker:

“Comedy itself is revolutionary. When done well, it challenges stale ideas, opens minds and brings delight.”

Ai Weiwei, artist and dissident:

“The revolution is a bridge that connects the past and the future. It is necessary, unpredictable and inevitable.”

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, film-makers:

“A world in which the richest 300 people have more wealth than the poorest three billion, in which the US maintains perhaps 700 overseas military bases and spends almost as much on military and intelligence as the rest of the world combined, and in which greed and the lust for power are privileged over creativity, kindness, and generosity, is a world gone astray – one that demands revolutionary transformation of the deepest and most profound sort.”

Read Martha Lane Fox, Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, Evgeny Lebedev and Molly Crabapple on Revolution in the issue


The NS’s Michael Prodger interviews Turner-nominated artist David Shrigley

Screenwriter and producer Diablo Cody on the existence of alien life

Will Self on why he’d “walk a c**ty mile” to avoid Jamie Oliver’s Diner

David Grylls reviews the second volume of Mark Twain’s cantankerous autobiography

The Russell Brand issue (dated 25-31 October, cover price £3.50) will be on sale in London on Thursday 24 October and in the rest of the country from Friday 25 October. International buyers can obtain copies through our website:

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What's to be done about racial inequality?

David Cameron's words on equal opportunities are to be welcomed - now for some action, says Sunder Katwala.

David Cameron made the strongest, clearest and most high profile statement about ethnic inequalities and the need to tackle discrimination ever yet offered by a British Prime Minister in his leader’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
“Picture this. You’ve graduated with a good degree. You send out your CV far and wide. But you get rejection after rejection. What’s wrong? It’s not the qualifications or the previous experience. It’s just two words at the top: first name, surname. Do you know that in our country today: even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get call backs for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names? … That, in 21st century Britain, is disgraceful. We can talk all we want about opportunity, but it’s meaningless unless people are really judged equally”, said Cameron.
While the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, this was a powerfully argued Prime Ministerial intervention – and a particularly well-timed one, for three reasons.

Firstly, the Prime Minister was able to root his case in an all-but-universally accepted appeal for equal opportunities. It will always prove more difficult in practice to put political energy and resources behind efforts to remedy discrimination against a minority of the population unless a convincing fairness case is made that values cherished across our whole society are at stake. Cameron’s argument, that any party which tells itself that it is the party of the ‘fair chance’ and ‘the equal shot’ must have a response when there is such clear evidence of discrimination, should prove persuasive to a Conservative Party that has not seen race inequalities as its natural territory. Cameron argued that the same principles should animate responses to discrimination when it comes to race, gender and social class. Put like that, wanting job interviews to be fair – by eradicating conscious and unconscious patterns of bias wherever possible – would strike most Britons as offering as clear a case of the values of fair play as wanting the best baker to win the Great British Bake-Off on television.
Secondly, Cameron’s intervention comes at a potential "tipping point" moment for fair opportunities across ethnic groups. Traditionally, ethnic discrimination has been discussed primarily through the lens of its impact on the most marginalised. Certainly, persistent gaps in the criminal justice system, mental health provision and unemployment rates remain stark for some minority groups. What has been less noticed is the emergence of a much more complex pattern of opportunity and disadvantage – not least as a consequence of significant ethnic minority progress.

Most strikingly of all, in educational outcomes, historic attainment gaps between ethnic minorities and their white British peers have disappeared over the last decade. In the aggregate, ethnic minorities get better GCSE results on average. Ethnic minority Britons are more likely, not less likely, to be university graduates than their fellow citizens. 

As a result of that progress, Cameron’s intervention comes at a moment of significant potential – but significant risk too. Britain’s ethnic minorities are the youngest and fastest-growing sections of British society. If that educational progress translates into economic success, it will make a significant contribution to the "Great British Take-Off" that the Prime Minister envisions. But if that does not happen, with educational convergence combined with current ‘ethnic penalties’ in employment and income persisting, then that potential could well curdle into frustration that the British promise of equal opportunities is not being kept.  Cameron also mirrored his own language in committing himself to both a ‘fight against extremism’ and a ‘fight against discrimination’: while those are distinct challenges and causes, actively pursuing both tracks simultaneously has the potential, at least, depolarise some debates about responses to extremism  - and so to help deepen the broad social coalitions we need for a more cohesive society too.

Thirdly, Cameron’s challenge could mark an important deepening in the political competition between the major parties on race issues. Many have been struck by the increase in political attention on the centre-right to race issues over the last five to ten years. The focus has been on the politics of representation. By increasing the number of non-white Conservative MPs from two to seventeen since 2005, Cameron has sent a powerful signal that Labour’s traditional claim to be ‘the party of ethnic minorities’ would now be contested. Cameron was again able to celebrate in Manchester several ways in which his Cabinet and Parliamentary benches demonstrate many successful journeys of migrant and minority integration in British society. That might perhaps help to ease the fears, about integration being impossible in an era of higher immigration, which the Home Secretary had articulated the previous day.

So symbolism can matter. But facial diversity is not enough. The politics of ethnic minority opportunity needs to be about more than visits to gurdwaras, diversity nights at the party conference fringes and unveiling statues of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. Jeremy Corbyn’s first speech as Labour leader did include one brief celebratory reference to Britain’s ethnic diversity – “as I travelled the country during the leadership campaign it was wonderful to see the diversity of all the people in our country” – and to Labour bringing in more black, Asian and ethnic minority members - but it did not include any substantial content on discrimination. Tim Farron acknowledged during his leadership campaign that the Liberal Democrats have struggled to get to the starting-line on race and diversity at all. The opposition parties too will no doubt now be challenged to match not just the Prime Minister’s rhetorical commitment to challenging inequalities but also to propose how it could be done in practice.

Non-white Britons expect substance, not just symbolism from all of the parties on race inequalites.  Survation’s large survey of ethnic minority voters for British Future showed the Conservatives winning more ethnic minority support than ever before – but just 29 per cent of non-white respondents were confident that the Conservatives are committed to treating people of every ethnic background equally, while 54 per cent said this of Labour. Respondents were twice as likely to say that the Conservatives needto do more to reach out – and the Prime Minister would seem to be committed to showing that he has got that message.  Moreover, there is evidence that ethnic inclusion could be important in broadening a party’s appeal to other younger, urban and more liberal white voters too – which is why it made sense for this issue to form part of a broader attempt by David Cameron to colonise the broad centre of British politics in his Manchester speech.

But the case for caution is that there has been limited policy attention to ethnic inequalities under the last two governments. Restaurateur Iqbal Wahhab decided to give up his role chairing an ethnic minority taskforce for successive governments, unconvinced there was a political commitment to do much more than convene a talking shop. Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone did push the CV discrimination issue – but many Conservatives were sceptical. Cameron’s new commitment may face similar challenges from those whose instinct is to worry that more attention to discrimination or bias in the jobs market will mean more red tape for business.

Labour had a separate race inequalities manifesto in 2015, outside of its main election manifesto, while the Conservative manifesto did not contain significant commitments to racial inequality. The mid-campaign launch in Croydon of a series of race equality pledges showed an increasing awareness of the growing importance of ethnic minority votes - though the fact that they all involved aiming for increases of 20 per cent by 2020 gave them a slightly back-of-the-envelope feel. 

Prime Ministerial commitments have an important agenda-setting function. A generation ago the Stephen Lawrence case opened the eyes of middle England to racist violence and police failures, particularly through the Daily Mail’s persistent challenging of those injustices. A Conservative Prime Minister’s words could similarly make a big difference in the mainstreaming of the issue of inequalities of opportunity. What action should follow words? Between now and next year’s party conference season, that must will now be the test for this Conservative government – and for their political opponents too. 

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.