The Daily Blog's Martyn Bradbury doesn't like the politics of comedian  Russell Brand - and he wants to indoctrinate the kids into accepting that there is no alternative to 'representative' democracy.

The Daily Blog's Martyn Bradbury thinks you need to vote for a Labour-led government.  He's been saying that monotonously for years and each year that goes by the number of people who are receptive to his call continues to  decline. Martyn Bradbury has been told, in no uncertain terms, to go and try sell crazy somewhere else.

But as the lights go out on the failed social democratic project, Martyn Bradbury is back in his best Herb Tarlek suit, trying to sell the same shonky goods he tried to sell at the last election. This time he's trying to sell David Cunliffe as some kind  inspirational political leader with a vision - and hoping you won't take the time to read the fine print.

That's right. David Cunliffe. The man who leads a political party that has  already assured business interests that it won't be interfering with the neoliberal consensus. He's the man who think 'socialism' is a dirty word - as opposed to 'the free  market', a term that he happily employs. He's a man who leads a parliamentary party full of time servers and careerists. There's not a socialist among them.

You don't want any of this unpalatable political gruel you say? You want something more? You're fed up with corrupt and unprincipled electoralism?   Tough. Because  none of the parliamentary parties are offering anything more. Whether it's Cunliffe's 'neoliberalism lite'  or Russel Norman's 'green  capitalism' the outcome is more of what we have come to loathe - neoliberal politics and policies.

What about the Mana Party you say?  I don't think so. It hasn't ruled out making a deal with Labour and I think that's what it will do.

But Bradbury is as much a part of the present sick system as John Key and he wants you to believe - that  by merely voting every three years - you have a real say in the democratic process. Yes, he thinks you are stupid and will believe any old rubbish.  He blusters:

In NZ, we have one of the most representative forms of Democracy on the planet, to pretend that engagement here won’t change things is simply absurd and is the reasoning of the lazy. Brand’s defence of apathy is righteous, but not right, engaging in the democratic process and lending our support to those processes that ensure democracy is as representative as possible is our responsibility and acknowledging that social obligation is far harder than the seduction of just giving up.

That's right  - Bradbury isn't particularly enamoured with Russell Brand. Last year the English  comedian launched a celebrated attack  on the failure of representative  democracy and called for a new revolutionary politics  that isn't beholden to the political failures of the past.

In a way that the old  and declining politics of Martyn Bradbury will never achieve, Brand has caught the mood of the times.  His famous interview with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman as had over 9 million views. His guest edited issue  of the New Statesman, focusing on revolution, sold through the roof.

Perhaps Brand is on to something? That's one of the real failings of people like Bradbury and others of a similar political bent - they don't talk the language of the times. That's why no one is listening to them. Bradbury might like to sneeringly describe Brand's Paxman interview as 'infamous' but it is Brand's politics that are on the ascent while Bradbury's are in a rapid descent.

 As I wrote last year:

We have had decades  of our so-called 'representatives' doing what they like  when they like. There has been no engagement with the public except when they want our vote. Even them  our 'representatives' have gone ahead and pursued policies outside of their mandates.  Did you vote for increasing social inequality and mass unemployment? Did you vote for  austerity cuts?  No, neither did I.

There is a severe and growing disconnect between ordinary people and the  political decision-making process in both local body politics and in Parliament.   More and more people are now realizing that their elected representatives do not represent them. The more that they tell us that they do, the more we don't believe them.

It is not exaggerating to say that we have a crisis of  representative democracy. Voting every few years for a new set of oppressors isn't democracy and it is not surprising that more and more people are opting out of this charade.

Crisis? What crisis? Unable and unwilling to recognise that representative democracy has failed, Bradbury thinks the system  can be made more 'democratic' through having elections on  public holidays and  brainwashing the kids into accepting that 'representative' democracy really is 'representative'. Bradbury calls them 'civic education classes'. It all sounds disturbingly Stalinist.

As Brand observed in a recent Guardian column:

The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don't think it does. I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right. The lazily duplicitous servants of The City expect us to gratefully participate in what amounts to little more than a political hokey cokey where every four years we get to choose what colour tie the liar who leads us wears.

One thing is for sure. We deserve a helluva lot more than what Bradbury is offering.

Politics needs a complete  upheaval and we need democratic renewal. As representative democracy sinks into a deepening crisis we need to fundamentally re-examine what we mean by 'democracy'.

I share the view that  a real democracy is a direct and participatory democracy, in which all citizens have the possibility and the right to participate in the decisions that affect their  lives and their communities.

Until Bradbury begins talking about this then I have no interest  in his fundamentally  undemocratic  views on democracy. Bradbury makes a living off the present system and has a vested interest in defending it.  He assumes that it works for everyone else when it clearly doesn't.

Contrary to what Bradbury thinks, it is our civic responsibility not to support the present system. Power to the people!


  1. Totally agree with this. When the Daily Blog started I originally thought it was a good idea but now its mostly just Labour Party press releases. Bradbury likes to rant about Brand being rich and out of touch, but has nothing bad to say about Cunliffe

  2. The language of Russell Brand: “the current political system is nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites”.

    The language of Martyn Bradbury: 'Vote Labour'.

    I'll listen to Brand but Bradbury can just fuck off.

  3. 'Martyn Bradbury is back in his best Herb Tarlek suit'. Ha Ha. Classic.

  4. Brand captured the 'public imagination' because the 'public imagination' is beholden to the cult of personality, particularly the cult of celebrity. Brand tapped into a general discontent and gave it a sexy face but what did he really say? What pragmatic solutions did he offer? In fact, what practical solutions does this blog suggest? I don't think anyone anyone would suggest that the current political culture has stagnated and has its fair share of corruption and lackeys for big corporations but no one extolling some great, wondrous revolution offers up any proper alternatives, just rhetoric and vague allusions to change. A lot of politicians are honest and hard working. It's a complex job, trying to balance the wants and needs of millions in a democracy. A 'damned if you do / don't' scenario. I wonder how Brand would fare in such a position? It's easy to throw about criticism from your arm chair, far harder to offer up a working alternative. Brand seems like a smart guy who can articulate his unease with current politics in an articulate and thoughtful manner. But behind the facade, it's all a bit empty. Just like this blog.

  5. To suggest that Russell Brand has captured the public imagination simply because people are obsessed by celebrity is deeply insulting to everyone who wants real change and exposes you as a sorry apologist for the status quo.

    Only a cheerleader for the political establishment could actually claim that politicians are honest and hardworking, trying to balance the needs of millions

    I prefer to think Marx got it right when he said that human history is defined by class struggle. You, on the other hand, seen to be lost in some happy-clappy fantasy land where everyone 'just gets along'.

    Were the ruling class just balancing the needs of millions when they bailed out the banks while ordinary people lost their homes? Is the ruling class just balancing the needs of millions when they give tax breaks to the already wealthy while ordinary folk are made to carry the burden for an economic crisis they aren't responsible for?

    Russell Brand's call for a clear and decisive break with all those that have betrayed ordinary people and perpetuated the status quo has more boldness to it than the dreary old rubbish that gets written by the likes of Martyn Bradbury and other establishment cheerleaders like him.

    Russell Brand himself is not saying he has all the answers - far from it - but his comments should be seen as a contribution to the debate about the need to fundamentally change society, how we go about it and the need for a socialist society.

    It's worth remembering what Brand said last year:

    'We require a change that is beyond the narrow, prescriptive parameters of the current debate, outside the fortress of our current system. A system predicated on aspects of our nature that are dangerous when systemic: greed, selfishness and fear. These are old, dead ideas. That’s why their business is conducted in archaic venues. Antiquated, elegant edifices, lined with oak and leather. We no longer have the luxury of tradition.'

    Defenders of the status quo like yourself are just outraged that Brand has simply dared to say what millions think: the parliamentary system is neither representative nor truly democratic.

  6. I don't agree with Bradbury all the time though he shares many of my ideals (or so I gather from my experience of his writing). But his pragmatism rings true to me. Why do you equate this with being a 'defender of the status quo'? I see real, effective change every day within the paradigms of the current system. It has its virtues, especially at a lower level. But yes, it is rife with problems. There's no doubt about that. However, I see no real solutions offered up by Brand or your blog, just Brand extolling the virtues of non involvement, offering up nothing else beyond that except buzz words and charisma. To my ears, his ideas just sound like an excuse to do nothing disguised as a philisophical statement. Sorry but I imagine most laptop activists and those beholden to Brand and his 8 minute youtube viral hits are doing nothing right now anyway. To encourage more apathy just lets the real toxic neo liberals into power and gives them even greater leverage to screw us all over. And the idea that I'm outraged because Brand 'dared' critique the system is ridiculous and pathetic. I spend much of my waking hours watching, listening and reading pieces from people who do nothing but critique the system and politicians (with far more depth than Brand could ever hope for). Brand is an articulate guy but what he said has been said a million times over from people far smarter than he is. He's just a more presentable face for his youtube lackeys to pin their hopes and dreams upon, until the next 7 minutes viral clip comes along (probably invoking sinister music and some reference to Zeitgeist).

    You state that you're a fan of Marx. Okay, great. So why do you cloak your arguments in vague allusions to change and so forth? Why not just come out with specifics and say that you would like a Marxist society? The idea of that makes me incredibly uneasy - perhaps that's why you're so cagey about it - but at least you would be giving a viable alternative to the current system you deem so flawed rather than just perpetuating the articulate but empty rhetoric from the likes of Brand.

  7. It's clear that your not going to let the facts get in the way of your prejudices, so replying to you is probably pointless. Nevertheless...

    Brand has never advocated 'non involvement' in politics - he was out on the streets with the Occupy movement, among other things.

    What he is saying is the bourgeois self-satisfied politics that you obviously wallow in is a complete waste of time. He has condemned voting for the Labour Party as a political dead end - and he is right.

    Brand's comments express the anger that many millions around the world feel towards the political elite and the capitalist system where a tiny minority own and control the wealth, leaving the rest of us struggling to get by. A corrupt and political bankrupt party like the Labour Party panders to this minority.

    I'm sorry you agree with much of the rubbish that Bradbury writes, particularly his slavish support for the right wing Labour Party. Is this what you call 'pragmatism'?

    I've written lots on alternatives to the present neoliberal consensus. You obviously haven't read any of my stuff or any of the other numerous writings available on this topic. I'll be charitable and assume you are just ignorant rather then deliberately telling fibs.

  8. I work on the front lines so I see proper, real change occur when we have a Labour government. I see proper, real change regarding benefits. I see proper, real change regarding tax relief for lower earners. And I see proper, real change on social issue too. No, it's certainly not enough and it can be slow moving and frustrating. But you know what, that's called Democracy. When half of society don't agree with your policies and vote for a party right of center, change can be an arduous process. You talk as though most, if not all people want to change the system. Okay great, so do all those millions of people want the same thing? Do they all want to pursue a left wing agenda? Or maybe some want to pursue a ring of center capitalist free market agenda? You write as though everyone is agreeable to your very left politics and all we need is for a dramatic paradigm shift at the core of our political system and we'll all be earning the same wage and sharing vegan sausages over an environmentally friendly BBQ. But this isn't the case, far from it. Hence why I find Bradbury's pragmatism more agreeable and ultimately more effective and your idealistic 'pie in the sky' stuff a bit empty and simplistic.

  9. After three decades of neoliberal policies - a huge chunk of them initiated, promoted and defended by Labour governments - to suggest that we see 'progressive change' under Labour is derisory.

    In 2014 the likes of David Cunliffe and David Parker have explicitly assured business interest that they have no intention to upset the neoliberal consensus. It will be business as usual.

    For three decades we have seen the political pendulum swing from Labour to National. What is left unchallenged is the policies and politics of neoliberalism. There is the no significant political force has connected the crisis of capitalism with the myriad of social problems we now confront.

    Indeed David Cunliffe's response to the capitalist crisis was to accept the 'need' for austerity cuts!

    It is not a case that change is 'slow moving and frustrating' - there is no progressive change at all.

    We now live in a country where the political oscillations of the parliamentary parties are largely superficial and ordinary folk recognise this and hence the mass withdrawal from something even as passive as voting every three years. Martyn Bradbury's vapid exhortation to people's so-called 'civic duty' is simply an arrogant and conceited defence of this moribund system.

    Politics in this country has degenerated into the machinations of politicians for whom political interests and career interests are identical. Politics has become a spectator sport of little interest to most ordinary folk.

    This situation will remain until a class-based politics emerges to contest for political power. Russell Brand recognises this - you obviously don't.

    I'm not sure what 'vegan sausages' have got to do with anything...


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