Viewpoints: Do MPs agree with Brand and Paxman?

 
Russell Brand and Jeremy Paxman

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BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman has condemned the "green-bench pantomime in Westminster" and comedian Russell Brand has criticised "the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class". BBC Radio 4's PM programme asked three MPs for their views on voter apathy.

Tim Loughton, Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
Tim Loughton Mr Loughton is a former children's minister who worked as a banker before entering Parliament

Like it or not, most people's lives are run by political decisions and those political decisions are made by politicians that you elect.

The trouble is that not enough people bother to go out and elect us.

There's a cynicism; we don't help ourselves. Interestingly, last night I was at a dinner and an MP got up and the first thing she said was: "Before I was an MP I had a proper job." She was a youth worker.

We're actually quite self-deprecating and that plays into the hands of cynical people, of which I would count Jeremy Paxman, who have this caricature of politicians as a bunch of duplicitous so-and-sos on some big gravy train, living the life of Riley.

Actually being an MP is a job, it's an exceptional job, and most of us spend an awful lot of time, blood, sweat and tears, putting a lot of effort into it.

I don't mind people attacking my political policies, and they can say I've got it absolutely wrong over certain things I've been doing in my constituency, or in Westminster - but this constant attack that actually all MPs are duplicitous, and we're just on this gravy train and we're good for nothing, and it's all a pantomime is deeply undermining of the democratic process, and can only switch people off from bothering to vote, particularly young people.

That's why barely 40% of young people at the last election who were able to vote for the first time - 18 to 24-year-olds - actually bothered to vote, and that really is worrying for the future.

[Russell Brand is] deeply destructive, actually. Watching that interview with Jeremy Paxman he's very amusing, very articulate, but it's deeply destructive, the influence on young people who think, "Gosh, Russell said we shouldn't bother to vote, let's not vote".

The way not to get [turnout] to improve is to say, it's all a waste of time and to go on the champagne anarchist ego trip that Russell Brand is on. That really doesn't help.

Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking
Margaret Hodge Ms Hodge is the chair of the Commons public accounts committee

I did some work at the beginning of the century, in 2001, when the turnout in my constituency was particularly low.

What I found was that people weren't apathetic about voting, they were angry. It was anger not apathy that motivated them.

The problem really is that we tend to set our agenda from the Westminster bubble, so what concerns us here in Westminster.... we really don't listen, and we really don't connect to people in the community enough.

So I've completely changed the way I do my politics from that experience.

Now the first thing I do is listen, and people's politics really starts from the local, they care about what's happening in their home, and in their local community.

Quite often I can't address the national issues that worry them: I couldn't address the issues about immigration in Barking before the last election, or the lack of social housing.

But I could address the issues about the post boxes, where they were sited, or whether the rubbish was collected, or whether we had prostitution on the street corner.

When I started addressing those issues that really concerned them, I connected with local people, I started to build trust, and I then got people voting again and voting for me, and seeing off [2010 BNP general election candidate for Barking] Nick Griffin.

Whilst Russell Brand may be right to be fed up, the answer is not revolution.

Sir Menzies Campbell, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife
Sir Menzies Campbell Sir Menzies is a former Lib Dem leader who competed as a sprinter in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

There are no great divides in principle between the three parties.

By and large we're all in favour of the mixed economy, we're all by and large - with some exceptions - in favour of state education, the kind of things which were battles between different parties have disappeared.

In addition to that, politics has become a question of management: can you manage the economy better than I can?

The third thing, rather paradoxically, is that the information technology revolution has meant that the age of deference has been swept aside, and I'm in no doubt whatsoever that there were people in the House of Commons 20, 30, 40 years ago who were a lot less than the perfect MP, but of course in those days no-one knew.

On the whole question of executive pay: 50 years ago, my mother wouldn't have had the slightest idea what the director general of the BBC was paid, and she wouldn't have thought it was her business, but now because information is better available people are better informed and inevitably people are less charitable.

[Russell Brand showed] a real lack of self-awareness: everything's wrong, but absolutely no suggestions as to how it would be put right.

If Russell Brand were the prime minister, imagine what kind of country it would be - if you possibly can.

The text in this article is abridged from a panel discussion on BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 322.

    So whats this, Russell Brand is making a foray into the political fold?

    Where do we go from here?

    Pretty soon Jeremy Clarkson will be throwing his hat into the ring, and then this country truly will be doomed.

    It could be worse though, I don't believe Richard Hammond has shown any political tendencies as yet.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 321.

    299. People don't vote because (a) we make it inconvenient to do so and (b) they don't think that their vote will count.
    ---
    a) If you can't vote in person, there's always the postal vote. I hardly find posting a letter incovenient. If even that is too much effort, you're clearly not taking it seriously.
    b) I agree, FPTP is rubbish. Yet the public voted to keep it. Go figure.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 320.

    If they wanted to get people involved then party funding should be based on the NUMBER of votes at elections and paid for from taxes, and donations to party funds banned.

    If there's a large turn out then you get good funding, even if you get a good showing across the country but no seats, well you just got good funding.. so you can now campaign for your causes.

    Then ALL votes have value.

  • rate this
    +51

    Comment number 319.

    I think Brand has made a valid point.
    No point voting for LibLabCon anymore, so who do we have left....
    Greens will get my vote. C Lucas's actions speak louder to me than words!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 318.

    If Menzies Campbell does not understand what makes a mixed economy he should go back to school. Surely he must be referring to a re-balanced economy. Margaret Thatcher began the process of dismantelling our mixed economy, a job carried on by successive governments of all complexions. Change only comes through revolution and one is long overdue to our broken political system.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 317.

    How can you expect people to vote for their chosen party when the liberal democrats betrayed everyone who supported their liberal values ,when they got into bed with the Tories. What is the point in voting when your party betrays you!!! That is not democracy; when your party sides with the opposing party just to gain some power. No wonder people are disenchanted with politics.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 316.

    "The trouble is that not enough people bother to go out and elect us."

    Typical arrogance - the problem is that not many people at all want to vote for you but they don't have any choice.

    Three identikit clones, a left/right wing nutter or scribble on the ballot paper and be branded a mal-content, what sort of choice is that?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 315.

    Russell Brand almost makes me feel sorry for politicians and his past history including the phone calls to Andrew Sachs leaves me feeling that he has absolutely no moral authority to make such comments. I wouldn't be a politician and I don't think many others would - you are on a hiding to nothing.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 314.

    85.Mike from Brum
    ... there should be a box on all voting slips that says "None of these candidates are worth my vote".
    ---
    Good idea but we will never see it as the current system allows the winning candidate to claim that he/she has a mandate. However, no-one can stop you from deliberately spoiling your ballot paper, it amounts to the same thing and it has to be counted.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 313.

    The main parties have had their day. In my lifetime nothing has changed, we vote them in we vote them out and the same issues that made the headlines years ago are still making the same headlines today. Over the years the UK has been sold out and there is not much left worth having we can call English.

  • rate this
    +19

    Comment number 312.

    This country suffer from the quantity not quality of politians.They look the same say the same things and do the same things.The facts speak for themselves people will not buy the product politic in its present form.Our political system is a museum piece.Our vote is meaningless.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 311.

    Vote for what exactly? Tweedle Dum (C) or Tweedle Dummer (L). they are all the same. every term - we promise this, that, the other. Every term, (whichever party is in) doesnt deliver. The opposition criticises them and they get in and guess what? they promise, this that and the other. And what do they deliver? Nothing. But taxes go up, NHS gets worse, MoD gets worse & Immigration gets worse!

  • Comment number 310.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 309.

    Why no HYS regarding BAE ?

    We all know the politicians are a lying and corrupt lot.

    I don't need Russell Brand to tell me that.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 308.

    Politics today is solely about vested interest and I don't mean party interests. Politicians are only in office to further their own ends and personal financial interests. They are not in politics to serve they are solely there for selfish motives. The well-being of the electorate and the needs of the country always come a very poor second to the personal desires of our elected politicians. SHAME!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 307.

    I found out today from the House of Commons Information Office that MP's are under NO legal obligation to reply to letters, complaints or concerns that constituents send them. It seems there are NO rules starting how long an MP is allowed to take to reply (assuming the reply at all) as each MP has their own office and runs it how THEY want.
    For goodness sake, what the hell is going on in the UK?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 306.

    I'm not influenced by what any beardy-weirdy has to say. Or Russell Brand.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 305.

    Brand was one of those people that the Daily Mail does not agree with, you know that British backing newspaper that also hates the BBC. Where the owners have a dubious history of political support and tax paying....So anyone that is against that mob of elitist cronies gets my vote. BUT a revolution would be a good thing. Depose the Tories and their corrupt cronies.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 304.

    if people unhappy with the way this country is run and the political parties we have, not voting is not the answer. If all those who disagree with the effectiveness and politics of Westminster then go to the polls and and spoil the voting paper. Everyone spoiled is counted and published. That way our voice is heard, doing nothing our voice is silenced.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 303.

    The problem with politics in this country is politicians.

 

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  51.  
    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: So close and yet....anyone else finding this agony? @BBCSport: Novak Djokovic takes the first set 7-6 on a tie-break. @BBCOne @bbc5live

    (BBC Sport has live coverage of the Australian Open tennis final)

     
  52.  
    Editor of @SchoolsWeek Laura McInerney

    tweets: I think Nicky Morgan has said "since I've been going around the country" - about ten times. It's the new "as a mum". #Marr

     
  53.  
    09:50: Morgan on Marr

    Nicky Morgan dismisses claims that her predecessor Michael Gove is "back seat driving" the education department as a "complete load of nonsense."

    Michael Gove has been "nothing but supportive", and while he may have seen some departmental briefings in his role as Chief Whip Ms Morgan affirms "I am in charge of the Department of Education".

     
  54.  
    The Andrew Marr Show

    tweets: Morgan - It is an 'outrage' if students leave school with qualifications that do not help them to enter the world of work #marr #marrshow

     
  55.  
    09:47: Morgan on Marr

    Asked by Andrew Marr whether schools funding for ages five - 16 will be "ring fenced" under a Conservative government Nicky Morgan nods. She tells Marr that she is "fighting" for the funding.

     
  56.  
    09:43: Nicky Morgan on Marr
    Nicky Morgan on The Andrew Marr Show

    Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is on the Andrew Marr Show, defending her "war on illiteracy and innumeracy" which includes new plans to get all children to know their 12 times table when they leave primary school.

    "Getting... the absolute basics right has to be at the core of our education system," she says.

     
  57.  
    09:38: Alexander on Marr

    Douglas Alexander refuses to be drawn on whether he will make a deal with SNP and Sinn Fein to from a majority government after the general elections. But he accuses the Conservatives of trying to "split the vote on the left" after they tweeted a mocked-up picture of Ed Miliband alongside SNP politician Alex Salmond and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, with the caption: "Your worst nightmare just got even worse."

    Labour has vowed not to feature Prime Minister David Cameron on its campaign billboards ahead of the general election.

     
  58.  
    The Andrew Marr Show

    tweets: Alexander - Voting for the SNP in the general election will result in a Conservative government

     
  59.  
    09:34: Alexander on Marr

    Douglas Alexander is pressed on the challenge facing Labour in Scotland, where Andrew Marr suggests his own seat is under pressure. "The polls are tough", Mr Alexander says, adding that he realises there is an appetite for change north of the border. But he says "I share that appetite for change" and adds: "The way we can secure that change is to deliver the maximum number of Labour MPs..."

     
  60.  
    09:28: Alexander on Marr
    Douglas Alexander on The Andrew Marr Show

    Labour election strategist Douglas Alexander tells the Andrew Marr Show: "We face a challenge to secure a recovery that reaches beyond the city of London and reaches kitchen tables right around the country."

     
  61.  
    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: first question to @NickyMorgan01 on @MarrShow is surely 'whats 12 x 12?'

    Robin is of course referencing the education secretary's "war on illiteracy and innumeracy" which state that all children in England will need to know up to their 12 times table when they leave primary school.

     
  62.  
    Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour

    tweets: Some pointed advice from Andrew Rawnsley for Tony Blair - time to say whose side you are on.

     
  63.  
    09:13: Papers on Marr
    Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton and impressionist Rory Bremner are doing the paper review to get The Andrew Marr Show under way

    Reviewing the newspapers on the Andrew Marr Show, impressionist Rory Bremner picks out the Observer's story on what it says is an acute shortage of beds for young mental health patients. This will be a "critical area" for the next government to get involved in, the comedian says. His fellow paper reviewer is Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton.

     
  64.  
    Labour press team

    tweets: Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary @DAlexanderMP will be speaking to the @MarrShow this morning on @BBCTwo at 9am

     
  65.  
    08:50: 'Back seat driving' The Independent
    The Independent on Sunday

    The Independent on Sunday claims former Education Secretary Michael Gove is still "back-seat driving" his old department and maintains a "shadowy influence" behind the back of his "more teacher-friendly" successor Mrs Morgan.

    The paper says the chief whip still receives paperwork related to Department for Education issues.

     
  66.  
    08:44: New beds crisis
    The Observer

    The Observer leads on what it says is an acute shortage of beds for young mental health patients in the NHS.

    According to guidelines from NHS England, leaked to the Observer, 16 and 17-year olds, who should be admitted to specialist child adolescent mental health facilities (Camhs), are likely instead to be admitted to adult wards.

     
  67.  
    08:41: 'War on illiteracy' Sunday Times
    Sunday Times

    The Sunday Times's top story (paywall) is Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's "war on illiteracy and innumeracy". The paper says she plans to remove head teachers from schools where 11-year-old pupils cannot pass tests on basic English and times tables.

     
  68.  
    08:37: Miliband attacked The Daily Telegraph
    Telegraph

    Ed Miliband has faced criticism from a leading business chief who said a Labour government would be a "catastrophe" for the UK.

    Stefano Pessina, acting chief executive of Boots, said in an interview with today's Sunday Telegraph that Mr Miliband's plans were "not helpful for business, not helpful for the country and in the end, it probably won't be helpful for them".

    He did not elaborate on which specific policies of the party he disliked but told the newspaper: "If they acted as they speak, it would be a catastrophe."

     
  69.  
    08:33: Sunday papers
    Papers

    It is a very mixed - and highly politicised - Sunday for headlines in the nationals. You can read the full write up from our online paper reviewers. But we'll also break it down into bite-sized chunks for you in the next few entries.

     
  70.  
    08:28: Coming up

    A few must watch items for your Sunday morning:

    The Andrew Marr Show is at 09:00 when Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander will be on the sofa. You can watch via the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

    Sunday Politics, tennis permitting, at 11:00 will hear from Culture Secretary Sajid Javid and Labour MP Tom Watson. Again, watch live on this page.

    Other options for your Sunday morning political fix include Pienaar's Politics from 10:00 to 11:00 on BBC radio 5Live and we'll also bring you updates from the Murnaghan programme, over on Sky News from 10:00-12:00.

    And of course you may want to keep one eye on events in Melbourne too, where Andy Murray is taking on Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open tennis final. The BBC has live coverage here.

     
  71.  
    08:20: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to Politics Live. Over the course of the next 10 hours we'll be bringing you all the news, views and analysis as it happens from the BBC's political team in text and video - including all the key moments from the Andrew Marr Show, Sunday Politics, the World This Weekend and reaction to the big Sunday newspaper stories. You can see how Friday, which was a Churchill remembered special, unfolded by clicking here.

     

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