"And you're that government?" asks Brand, clad in a long-sleeve T-shirt.
"Yeah," says Miliband.
The full interview is expected to be released Wednesday.
LONDON – As political pairings go, there are few less likely than this: Ed Miliband and Russell Brand.
One is the uber-wonky leader of Britain’s Labor Party, a man who revels in his charisma deficit, has spent his career in the trenches of British politics and could become prime minister after elections next week despite widespread misgivings that he’s just too weird for the job.
The other is the British comic, actor and would-be-revolutionary with a near-cult-like following who has made it his mantra to convince young people – and anyone else who will listen – that they shouldn't bother voting because the whole system needs to be junked for something better.
And yet, there they were Monday evening, meeting for a secret, late-night encounter at Brand’s house in the trendy east London neighborhood of Shoreditch.
Or at least, it was supposed to be a secret. But nothing stays secret for long in the age of Twitter. The meeting had barely broken up before the apparent proof leaked out:
And it didn’t take long from there for the storm of speculation to kick off: Had the two just wanted to catch up over tea and biscuits? Was
in the offing? Or perhaps something else entirely?
Fortunately, on Tuesday, Miliband’s team clarified. Brand, who has 9.5 million Twitter followers and his own YouTube channel, the Trews, had been interviewing Miliband. The segment will supposedly air Tuesday.
"Some people were saying the campaign was too boring so I thought it would make it more interesting," Miliband said at a campaign stop.
David Cameron, the man Miliband is trying to unseat as prime minister, had a less charitable view, calling Brand “a joke.”
“He is funny. Right? It’s funny, but you know politics and life and elections and jobs and the economy – it’s not a joke,” said Cameron, a Conservative. “Russell Brand is a joke. Ed Miliband hangs out with Russell Brand – he is a joke. This is not funny. This is about the election.”
Miliband aides declined to reveal what the Labor Party leader had discussed with Brand, saying that all would soon be revealed.
But they suggested that there was something serious at the heart of the encounter – a determination by Miliband to reverse the slide among British youth into political apathy.
"Politics is in a bad way in our country. Reviving trust is absolutely fundamental," said Stewart Wood, a top Miliband adviser.
And of course, there’s also the raw political consideration of a vote next Thursday that polls show remains too close to call, with Labor and the Tories running neck-and-neck.
Labor generally does better than the Conservatives among young voters. But turnout among the young is far lower than it is among older voters, who tend to vote Tory.
The 39-year-old Brand has repeatedly and emphatically expressed his disdain for politicians of all stripes. “I have never voted,” Brand recently told the New Statesman. “Like most people, I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people, I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”
Sitting down with Brand is undoubtedly a risk for Miliband, given Brand’s tendency to make serious people look silly. But if it persuades some of Brand’s young followers that voting Labor is the better option than apathy, then it could be well worth the candidate’s time.