Kick Up The Tabloids

Referendum finally comes alive – cake or chips?

The last time I stood in for this column of Vlad’s, I took the opportunity to bemoan the fact that the efforts of the hardworking satirical comedian were being seriously undermined by the politician’s sheer capacity for farce. Now it seems that my words may have had some effect as the comedy fraternity have retaliated with Russell Brand and his party political broadcast for those with fuck all understanding of politics.

The only questions Danny Alexander has ever provoked me to ask is if suicide really is an option

You can see how this has happened… The public perception is that there’s very little to separate your average politician from the infamous erstwhile comedy child catcher; one is a sexually depraved narcissist with a penchant for antagonising pensioners… and the other is Russell Brand, and it’s perhaps for this reason that his Paxman interview has resonated with so many. The sweet relief of a political ideal being expressed by a man who knows he’s an idiot as opposed to the same old lies being stuttered by an autobot, convinced despite all evidence to the contrary that he is not, is such a bold change from the mind-numbing norm that there’s not been this many people talking about voting since Susan Boyle gave up her job as a Johann Lamont impersonator and auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.

In one sense, I cannot help but applaud Brand’s furthering forays into demagoguery. He has at least tried to use his position to provoke questions and elevate thinking. That’s more than most politicians achieve in a career. For example, the only questions Danny Alexander has ever provoked me to ask is if suicide really is an option. So I can’t but admire Brand’s poking. My problems are not with his questions but his answers. By propagating the idea of the non-vote as a real form of political expression, Brand has legitimised apathy. He’s now given permission for people to excuse themselves from thinking, from politically engaging with the world that they live in because they’re waiting on some mythical revolution to kick in. This is essentially the same strategy that fundamental Christians have used for decades to excuse themselves from doing anything that might be considered Christian by anyone other than themselves. By adopting the same Waiting for Godot approach, Brand has further thwarted any chance of anything remotely revolutionary happening for the foreseeable future. And that’s a problem for Scotland because we could be on the verge of one. A democratic one, but a revolution none the less and the only way to make it happen, is by doing exactly what he’s suggesting we shouldn’t.

Less than a year from the most important decision our country has made for 300 years and I’m still struck by the national nonchalance that is prevalent. There are times when it would be easy to mistake our collective reaction to the possibility of being an independent country as a response to the question does Scotland prefer chips to cake? In fact, there’s a strong argument to suggest that question would be far more passionately fought over. The fight wouldn’t last for long, be quite sweaty and involve a lot of timeouts for heart resuscitations and diabetes related injuries but the passion would be there. For a nation so obsessed with its past, it’s frustrating to see such a flippancy about Scotland’s future and the very worst possible outcome for this referendum is that we sleepwalk into a decision because people mistake not voting with the forming and expressing of an actual opinion.

As much as I disagree with Brand’s method of registering dissent I do however, envy his ability for aspirational thinking. As a Yes supporter I am dismayed that the little argument that has managed to permeate the national psyche, has been focused on what Scotland would be after independence as opposed to what it could be. More than that, I also agree that the definition of insanity is to repeat the same behaviour and expect different results. If Scotland were able to adopt a small modicum of Brand’s positive thinking, it might be the very thing to help propel us into into a fairer, more accountable and more transparent political landscape. Now that would be revolutionary. If only we’d vote for it….