I was very happy to watch Question Time with a bunch of friends last night as we had a pre-Christmas reunion, to share in some kind of rare political group engagement. The call to watch was the obvious draw of Brand vs Farage, though the fight never ensued – in fact, everyone behaved exactly as expected. Almost.
Pretty much all responses were business as usual; Farage was a barely-veiled xenophobe, Mary Creagh was a cringe-ily solemn mouthpiece for why the Conservatives are well rubbish and you should definitely vote Labour in the next election which is totally coming up you guys, and Camilla Cavendish fence-sat her way through a far more eloquent promotion of pseudo-liberal-and-kinda-righty values than the Tory MP.
Russell Brand said all his usual bits too – all the things people with screentime refuse to acknowledge and with all the vigour they should be acknowledged with – and he even threw in the most sincere fart joke I’ve ever heard. But surely the highlight was a first glimpse of humility from someone who, in all of his solidarity for those struggling against inequity, has previously refused to acknowledge his own continually misogynist outbursts.
While I was not convinced that by donning a NoMorePage3 t-shirt earlier this year Brand had officially come-out-as-feminist, I was glad yesterday to hear him not only acknowledge and chastise himself for calling Penny Mordaunt ‘love’, but to note “I’m working on it”. Shortly after, Creagh pulled him up on his fraught interruption, noting that men talking over women is perhaps also something he should work on – and his response was to apologise. Clearly, and without defensiveness.
People are far from perfect, and as much as I appreciate Brand, his brocialist attitude is painful. But if he is going to be the only mainstream mouth shouting about injustice and inequity in Britain, I’m glad he appears to be learning and working his way out of it. When we can admit and work on our failings, publicly, we can all actually turn up and work together. Here’s hoping.