ED Miliband said his meeting with comedian Russell Brand has made the general election campaign “more interesting” despite David Cameron criticising the move as a “joke”.
The Prime Minister’s jibe appeared to prompt Brand to tell him “Don’t be jealous, Dave” alongside a picture of Mr Cameron in his Bullingdon Club days.
The row emerged after a fuzzy picture of Mr Miliband leaving Brand’s east London home emerged on Twitter at around 10pm yesterday.
Speaking during a campaign visit to Cardiff, Mr Miliband said: “I decided that some people were saying the campaign was too boring so I thought it would make it more interesting.”
Mr Miliband said he “profoundly” disagreed with Brand’s previous declaration that voting does not make a difference.
He said: “I’m going to go anywhere and talk to anyone to take that message out to people about how we can change this country so it works for working people again.
The danger is that politics is being played in an increasingly empty stadium. If we don’t recognise that... then we will have fewer and fewer people votingEd Miliband
“I say to all of the politicians in this campaign, here is the danger, the danger is that politics is being played in an increasingly empty stadium.
“If we don’t recognise that, if we don’t engage in different ways with the people who aren’t engaging in this election, then we will have fewer and fewer people voting.
“Russell Brand asked me for an interview and I was very, very happy to accept.”
Mr Miliband said if he talked only to people he agreed with, he “wouldn’t be doing many interviews”.
During a campaign stop in Enfield, north London, Mr Cameron insisted that the election is “not funny” and that the issues at stake are more important than meeting Brand.
He said: “He (Brand) says ‘don’t vote’, that’s his whole view, don’t vote, it would only encourage them or something.
“That’s funny, it’s funny.
“But politics and life and elections and jobs and the economy is not a joke.
“Russell Brand’s a joke.
“Ed Miliband, to hang out with Russell Brand, he’s a joke.”
He added: “I haven’t got time to hang out with Russell Brand.”
Brand later tweeted: “Don’t be jealous Dave - I’ll run into you at West Ham - when you’re not busy with ordinary people.”
Attached was a picture of Mr Cameron, together with Boris Johnson and other students, at the Bullingdon Club, Oxford.
Mr Miliband hit back, saying the “joke” was the Prime Minister’s refusal to take part in a televised showdown with him.
“I think a joke is saying you want this election to be about leadership and then refusing to debate me.”
Brand has made a series of high-profile interventions in recent months, including telling audiences not to vote and writing a book calling for political revolution.
He has released a documentary film criticising growing inequality between the rich and the poor in Britain and joined a successful anti-eviction campaign for an east London estate.
Following a screening last week, the comedian said the General Election was “irrelevant”, adding: “Because there’s an election it’s a good time to market a film about politics and people are more aware of politics.
“I think people want me to talk about the election but, watching it again, it just makes me think there’s no justice, it’s dead.”
In January, Brand was dismissed as a “pound-shop Ben Elton” by Labour’s Ed Balls.
The shadow chancellor issued the withering put-down after the self-styled revolutionary called him a “clicky-wristed snidey c***” during a television quiz show.