Ed Miliband told Russell Brand that he will take action against the power wielded by Rupert Murdoch and in a much-anticipated video interview told the comedian and activist that he wants to achieve credible reform and is not looking for “giddy euphoria” after the election.
In the interview, broadcast on Brand’s The Trews YouTube channel, when asked whether Miliband was willing to break up media centres of power so they own only 10% or 15% of the newspaper market, Miliband said he would look at the subject of media ownership.
The Labour leader said: “I said in our manifesto we would look at these issues of media ownership, and I’ve spoken out against Rupert Murdoch on phone hacking, and what happened to ordinary members of the public. Media ownership is something I care about. It’s not about being edgy but how you make it work properly.”
Miliband told Brand he believed that Murdoch and other media owners are less powerful than they used to be, but nevertheless hinted at taking action against the owner of the Sun and the Times. “I am not diminishing Rupert Murdoch, but he is much less powerful than he used to be. The British people have a lot more sense that some of these people give them credit for. The question is am I willing to to stand up to these powerful forces and I am,” he said.
The Labour leader said that it might look odd to downplay euphoric post-election expectations , but he said that believed that political change including reforming the banks, the energy companies and workers’ rights would take time.
Miliband said: “I am not looking for euphoria. I know that is a bit weird. Obviously I want to get rid of a Tory government. I don’t want people to vote for me and the world is transformed. It ain’t going to be like that. Change is hard, it takes time, I am not being a civil servant, that is the reality. Change requires pressure, it takes effort and it takes people to make the change happen.”
Miliband’s willingness to go to Brand’s flat for the interview was praised by the comedian who is on the verge of endorsing the Labour leader ahead of next week’s election. The idea of the interview had been under discussion for a week, and it had been due to be released at the weekend, but a leak of the visit forced Brand to bring forward the broadcast on YouTube.
Brand said, at the end of the interview: “It says a lot about Ed Miliband that he understands the way the media works now and the way the country feels and is prepared to come round here and talk to us at The Trews”.
In the interview Brand, who talks slightly more than Milband, probes the Labour leader about whether it is possible for politicians to take on powerful corporations and super-elites. Miliband constantly defends politics as the way to achieve lasting credible change.
He listed reforms such as workers’ rights, minimum wage, and lesbian and gay rights, as achievements of democracy. When pressed by Brand as to how social change can be achieved, Milband said: “I don’t think it is about great politicians – it is a combination of politics and people.”
Miliband has been criticised in the rightwing press for begin willing to be interviewed by Brand – a millionaire film and television star who has previously urged people not to vote and not to register to vote.
The comedian insists at the outset of the interview that it is not apathy that had led him to urge people not to vote, saying instead it was his belief that unelected powerful elites that control things from behind had got their talons into the Tory party.
Miliband also confronted Brand over the bailout for the banking sector that happened under the last Labour government. The party leader said it was right to bail out the banks in 2007. “It was not about the banks, it was about ordinary people’s savings. Remember those queues starting to form [outside] Northern Rock and all that? What was going to happen to ordinary people’s savings? I think banks are a good thing and not a bad thing.
“If there is fraud committed by bankers they should go to jail, but the bigger issue is how you have a banking system that works for small businesses and ordinary people.”
After the video was posted online on Wednesday, Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, criticised the Conservatives for their “po-faced piety” about Miliband’s decision to be interviewed by Brand.
“I’ve actually been interviewed by Russell Brand. I’ve got the T-shirt. Several months ago he interviewed me on drugs reform and it was a colourful, slightly zany, experience and honestly I find this po-faced piety from the Conservatives – I mean, it’s a free country – is an insight into quite how mind-numbingly dull the Conservative party campaign has become that they’ve become so critical when anybody chooses to do anything a little bit differently.”
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 29th April 2015 16.03 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010