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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How the shadow cabinet forced Jeremy Corbyn not to change Labour policy on Syria air strikes

Frontbenchers made it clear that they "would not leave the room" until the leader backed down. 

Jeremy Corbyn had been forced to back down once before the start of today's shadow cabinet meeting on Syria, offering Labour MPs a free vote on air strikes against Isis. By the end of the two-hour gathering, he had backed down twice.

At the start of the meeting, Corbyn's office briefed the Guardian that while a free would be held, party policy would be changed to oppose military action - an attempt to claim partial victory. But shadow cabinet members, led by Andy Burnham, argued that this was "unacceptable" and an attempt to divide MPs from members. Burnham, who is not persuaded by the case for air strikes, warned that colleagues who voted against the party's proposed position would become targets for abuse, undermining the principle of a free vote.

Jon Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio and NEC member, said that Labour's policy remained the motion passed by this year's conference, which was open to competing interpretations (though most believe the tests it set for military action have been met). Party policy could not be changed without going through a similarly formal process, he argued. In advance of the meeting, Labour released a poll of members (based on an "initial sample" of 1,900) showing that 75 per cent opposed intervention. 

When Corbyn's team suggested that the issue be resolved after the meeting, those present made it clear that they "would not leave the room" until the Labour leader had backed down. By the end, only Corbyn allies Diane Abbott and Jon Trickett argued that party policy should be changed to oppose military action. John McDonnell, who has long argued for a free vote, took a more "conciliatory" approach, I'm told. It was when Hilary Benn said that he would be prepared to speak from the backbenches in the Syria debate, in order to avoid opposing party policy, that Corbyn realised he would have to give way. The Labour leader and the shadow foreign secretary will now advocate opposing positions from the frontbench when MPs meet, with Corbyn opening and Benn closing. 

The meeting had begun with members, including some who reject military action, complaining about the "discorteous" and "deplorable" manner in which the issue had been handled. As I reported last week, there was outrage when Corbyn wrote to MPs opposing air strikes without first informing the shadow cabinet (I'm told that my account of that meeting was also raised). There was anger today when, at 2:07pm, seven minutes after the meeting began, some members received an update on their phones from the Guardian revealing that a free vote would be held but that party policy would be changed to oppose military action. This "farcical moment", in the words of one present (Corbyn is said to have been unaware of the briefing), only hardened shadow cabinet members' resolve to force their leader to back down - and he did. 

In a statement released following the meeting, a Corbyn spokesperson confirmed that a free vote would be held but made no reference to party policy: 

"Today's Shadow Cabinet agreed to back Jeremy Corbyn's recommendation of a free vote on the Government's proposal to authorise UK bombing in Syria.   

"The Shadow Cabinet decided to support the call for David Cameron to step back from the rush to war and hold a full two day debate in the House of Commons on such a crucial national decision.  

"Shadow Cabinet members agreed to call David Cameron to account on the unanswered questions raised by his case for bombing: including how it would accelerate a negotiated settlement of the Syrian civil war; what ground troops would take territory evacuated by ISIS; military co-ordination and strategy; the refugee crisis and the imperative to cut-off of supplies to ISIS."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.