Why Ed Miliband was right to be interviewed by Russell Brand

The Labour leader was interviewed by Brand for one simple reason: he's trying to get elected.

 

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Should Ed Miliband do an interview with a publication that has slagged him off, saying the country deserves "better" than him? Should he do so despite a record of statements and actions towards women that are sexist and degrading? Should he ignore that it has, frequently, endorsed a way of doing politics to which he is firmly opposed? 

But enough about the Sun, what about Russell Brand? In both cases, there are risks as well as rewards, but just as the Sun's 1.9 million readers make reaching out to that paper, that Brand's YouTube channel has a million subscribers and a devoted following means that it makes sense for Miliband to do the same.

Of course, it may be that the interview turns out to be a car crash - the Labour leader has a tendency to pander to his crowd, whether that be on immigration or tax avoidance. The howls of the right-wing press are to be expected; what will trouble the Labour leader is if people to his left flank begin to probe into Brand's statements about women and his excessive personal wealth.

But who cares? Just five years ago Labour got their second lowest share of the vote since 1918. The Tories might not have won the 2010 election, but Labour certainly lost it. Labour's tent looks too small, not just for a majority in May but for the foreseeable future, unless its leadership can reach beyond it's traditional core. Even if it ends in tears, Miliband should be applauded for at least trying to turn things around.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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