Russell Brand is disliked and, more than other celebrities, seen as having a negative influence on political debate
Comedian Russell Brand's political commentary has pushed him to the forefront of British life. Two hours on Newsnight with both Jeremy Paxman and Evan Davis, a guest edit of the New Statesman and a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers have made him a vital outsider voice or a public nuisance, depending on your politics.
Brand has joined a long tradition of celebrities who have used their esteem to bring politics to the many. Now YouGov research reveals the celebrities who have the best and worst public reception in their contribution to political discourse.
More than anyone else, the public say Russell Brand has made a negative contribution to the political debate in Britain (46%). However a slightly greater number (13%) do see him as making a positive contribution compared to Jeremy Clarkson (7%).
In net terms, actor and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie is seen as making the most positive (+21) contribution to political debate. Bob Geldof, who recently announced the re-release of 'Do They Know it's Christmas' with Band Aid, 30 years after it first hit the charts, is also seen as making a strong contribution (+15). Leonardo DiCaprio's attempts to join the more conscientious celebrities has fallen on deaf ears, meanwhile, with equal 7% thinking he's made a positive and a negative offering (Net 0).
The survey also finds that Brand is disliked by 60% of British people and liked by only 28%.
The anti-capitalist comedian-turned-commentator is better liked by Labour voters (37% compared to 16% of Conservatives) and 18-24 year-olds (42% as opposed to 13% of over fifties). Even so, most (51%) of Labour voters dislike him and young people are divided (41-42%). The same two groups are also more likely to find him funny, but 65% of the general public say he is not, as do 55% of Labour voters and 46% of 18-24 year-olds.
Russell Brand's latest political appearance was at a march organised by the activist group Anonymous on Guy Fawkes night in central London. He was also heavily mocked on Twitter recently, as users shouted Parklife! at him after noticing a similarity between the comedian's verbose style of speaking and the spoken-word verses of Blur's hit of the same name.