Election controversy of the week: Russell Brand endorses Labour
Comedian Russell Brand has urged his followers to vote Labour despite earlier telling them not to bother voting at all.
Political endorsements are always controversial but the most notable of this election is undoubtedly that of comedian Russell Brand. Despite declaring two years ago that "I've never voted and never will", and encouraging others to do the same, Brand has endorsed Ed Miliband, after interviewing the Labour leader for his online TV channel The Trews.
Justifying his apparent U-turn, Brand argued: "I know I've been Mr Don't Vote', but what I mean is politics isn't something we can just be involved in once every five years... Democracy is something you should be constantly involved in."
David Cameron dismissed the endorsement "I don't have time to hang out with Russell Brand" while Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed to be "very pleased" that Brand hadn't endorsed him. But while Brand may not be the most profound or coherent thinker, he "has a following of around half a million mostly younger people", notes The Guardian's Rowena Mason.
The point of the exercise was not to get Brand's endorsement it was a chance to grab the attention of "the people watching him with Mr Miliband, people who wouldn't normally give a politician 15 seconds of their skittish attention". By sneering at Miliband's attempt to engage them, the Conservatives "run the risk of looking like they hold those people in contempt".
Unfortunately for anyone who followed Brand's earlier admonition, the deadline for registering to vote was 20 April. So as The Daily Telegraph's Michael Deacon tweeted: "Now all that Russell Brand's fans have to do is build a time machine so that they can meet the deadline for voter registration."