Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Young voters on Ed Miliband's Russell Brand interview

Image copyright Russell Brand/YouTube

Ed Miliband's interview with campaigning comedian Russell Brand elicited a mixed response, with David Cameron labelling the meeting a "joke".

But did the video interview engage with the millions of people not usually interested in politics Mr Miliband hoped it would? BBC News asked members of Generation 2015 for their views.

Daniel Williams, from Sandbach, said he thought Mr Miliband's decision to be interviewed by Brand was "very forward thinking".

He said: "Though I do not agree with everything that Russell Brand says in general, I do think he's a very good spokesperson for young people and someone that relates to young people very well.

"So, for a mainstream politician like Ed Miliband to take part in an interview with him is very forward thinking of Ed and it's something that I think will go a very long way to attracting votes from people like me for the Labour Party."

He said the video, broadcast on Brand's YouTube channel, "was something that would definitely make me think about who I vote for."

"I think its very helpful for politicians to broaden their reach and how they connect with different sections of society," he said.

"I think he [Mr Miliband] came across very well. I felt that he seemed very natural, a lot more natural than I've seen him in other interviews."

The 24-year-old added: "Russell Brand definitely interviews in a way that captures a younger audience and captures my attention. He's definitely different from, say, Jeremy Paxman or David Dimbleby, but I think it still works very well.

"It's very quickfire and it can take people by surprise, but I respect anyone that goes in to an interview with Russell Brand and takes on what he says without being defensive."

Dwayne Foster, a 23-year-old music technology student at Dudley College, in the West Midlands, said taking Mr Miliband out of his "normal setting" had allowed him to come across as a "person rather than as a politician".

He said: "It was a good decision. Russell Brand is very well-known by young people.

"A lot of young people do not even watch TV but they are always on their computers and this could even end up on the YouTube homepage.

"I think taking a politician out of their normal setting like Question Time or the House of Commons to being in someone's house means they kind of drop their guard a little bit because they're not having to fight with another politician.

"It made me see him as more of a person than a politician. Although he contradicts himself a bit he was actually engaging in the interview. He was not trying to avoid too much and he was letting people hear him as a person rather than as a politician.

"I still feel I'm fully undecided on my vote but I do think that this may have swayed me to Labour. After five years of the coalition there needs to be a change and I think they are the only option for change."


Twitter reaction

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Mel Ramsay, 24, is the president of Staffordshire University Students' Union.

She said: "It was a stroke of genius. We've got a large proportion of disenfranchised 16 to 24-year-olds so I think it's absolutely brilliant.

"Russell Brand has said he does not believe in voting, however, by Ed Miliband doing this interview that's reaching about ten million followers on Twitter and hundreds of thousands of people watching that vlog.

"I feel like we're in a social media generation, we like things that are easy to find, we're on computers, phones, tablets all the time so having something like that which speaks to us directly was brilliant.

"I think that he was very good. It must be difficult because Russell Brand can be quite overbearing but I felt that he got his points across well.

"I think it's really positive that he's trying to get to those who are disenfranchised. It was a bold move to go and speak to someone who has said 'I do not vote' and 'we should not vote.'

"It shows a lot of backbone and I'm really impressed."

Brogan Hume, a 20-year-old theology student, from Sheffield, said: "If I'm honest I have mixed feelings about it in some respects but I think it is good he is engaging with a wider audience.

"Russell Brand has about one million subscribers on his channel so it's good he's getting out there telling people what he believes in but it did not feel very statesman-like and if he's making himself out to be a prime minister in waiting I'm not convinced that brought him across like that.

"It felt a bit colloquial. It came across as deliberately trying to dumb things down for the audience.

"I'm not convinced I could watch it on the news every night or to see all the debates done in that way as I found it a bit infantile, a bit jarring. I do not think that Russell Brand really got to the point.

"I think it does attract an audience and I'm sure that Russell Brand's viewers will have watched that and they may not have otherwise heard a 15-minute interview with a party leader but it's not attracted a different audience because the mainstream media have been all over it.

"David Cameron has been posting short videos on Facebook over the past few months so it's not just Ed Miliband getting in on the act."

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