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29th Sep 2017

Russell Brand on what went wrong with his foray into politics

Remember when Russell Brand thought we shouldn't vote?

Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand is out now.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Russell Brand was telling everyone not to vote.

That might just be because it seems like we’re having an election or some kind of vote every other year these days (or because he never actually said ‘Don’t vote’, rather he said ‘Voting is pointless’) but either way, it was actually way back in 2013 when Brand was suddenly the bearded face of revolution.

“It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations,” he explained to Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight.


The comedian changed his tune in 2015, urging people to vote for Labour and Ed Miliband. “What I heard Ed Miliband say is that if we speak, he will listen,” Brand said in a video on his YouTube channel The Trews. “So on that basis, I think we’ve got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party.”

Now it’s 2017. We’ve had the EU Referendum and a snap General Election, neither of which went the way anyone expected, but the results of both proved that a) apathy is not rife and b) democracy can bring about change, whether it be exiting the European Union or bringing politics from outside the centre into the mainstream.

So where did Russell Brand go wrong?

“I mistook taking the temperature of a nation for sort of being the furnace of a nation,” the comedian explained on Unfiltered with James O’Brien, the new podcast from JOE.

On the show, host O’Brien put it to Brand that the way he was being presented in the media – as a revolutionary figure, essentially – may have led him to believe his own hype, to which Brand agreed.


“What happened there is, I think, is I got a bit puffed up on one side, because I love a bit of attention,” Brand said. “I was realising that I was voicing a lot of stuff and was in a really high profile position, but I wasn’t backed by a team of politicians.

“Imagine if you have a messiah complex and then other people start telling you that you might be the messiah. That’s a very dangerous bit of alchemy,” he added.

Time has passed, and Brand is a new man – a married man with a child, no less – and while he is still active in the world of politics, having recently uploaded a video on Jacob Rees-Mogg and ‘The Rise of Pantomime Politics’, the comedian has turned his attentions from indifference and weariness to action and self-improvement.

Brand has written a new book, Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, in which the 42-year-old, who has battled addiction himself, reimagines the 12-step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people free themselves from self-destructive behaviours.

“My qualification for writing this book is not that I am better than you, it’s that I am worse. I am an addict, addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, money, love and fame,” he said of the book.

“The programme in Recovery has given me freedom from all addictions and it will do the same for you.”

Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand is out nowUnfiltered with James O’Brien