Jeremy Paxman: Like Russell Brand, I didn't vote

Media caption,
Comedian Russell Brand says the UK's political system has created a "disenfranchised, disillusioned underclass"

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman has admitted not voting at a recent election, despite criticising comedian Russell Brand for doing the same.

He told the Radio Times he found political parties "unappetising" and he was tired of "tawdry pretences".

On Newsnight last month, he berated Mr Brand, who urges revolution and non-participation in elections, for not "being arsed" to vote.

But Mr Paxman told the magazine that Mr Brand had an "irresistible" quality.

The 63-year-old, who has presented Newsnight since 1989, questioned Mr Brand, the star of films including Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Arthur, on the BBC Two show about his political ideas.

Mr Brand argued he had never voted because of "absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class".

At the time, Mr Paxman responded by asking: "If you can't be arsed to vote, why should we be arsed to listen to your political point of view?"


But in his interview with the Radio Times, he said: "I think part of Russell Brand's diagnosis is right. There is a huge sense of disillusion out there.

"At the next election we shall have a choice between the people who've given us five years of austerity, the people who left us this mess, and the people who signed public pledges that they wouldn't raise student fees, and then did so - the most blatant lie in recent political history.

"It won't be a bombshell if very large numbers of the electorate simply don't bother to vote. People are sick of the tawdry pretences."

Mr Paxman added: "Russell Brand has never voted, because he finds the process irrelevant. I can understand that: the whole green-bench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self-important echo-chamber. But it is all we have."

He revealed that he had not voted in a recent election "because I thought the choice so unappetising".

"By the time the polls had closed and it was too late to take part, I was feeling really uncomfortable: the person who chooses not to vote - cannot even be bothered to write 'none of the above' on a ballot paper - disqualifies himself from passing any comment at all."

Mr Paxman said he had harboured low expectations of Mr Brand, 38, before the Newsnight encounter, as he was "a multimillionaire with a house in California talking about the need to take from the rich and give to the poor".

But he added: "There is something irresistible about him... he stands squarely in the British tradition of cheeky chappies."

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