SHADOW chancellor Ed Balls has defended Ed Miliband’s decision to do an interview with Russell Brand.
He said it was really important for politicians to be interviewed by “all sorts of people on all sorts of broadcasts”.
Mr Balls told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that what we have got to do is persuade people, young and old, that voting matters, that there is a big choice at this election, politics can change our country and change the world.”
It is important to get out of your comfort zone every now and again, he added.
“So be it,” he said, if the Labour leader doing an interview with Brand helped get the message out.
In the interview, Mr Miliband told the comedian-turned-activist, who has urged people not to vote, that a Labour government would take on tax avoidance by multinational companies.
He made a surprise late-night visit on Monday to Brand’s London flat. Brand has released an excerpt from the interview on his YouTube channel The Trews.
On Twitter, Brand suggested the video would be released at “lunchtime”.
Mr Miliband told Brand that many voters shared his “outrage” over multinationals that use complicated tax arrangements to minimise the amounts they pay, and assured him: “We’ve got to deal with that.”
Mr Miliband insisted: “It can be dealt with, but you’ve got to have a government that is willing to say there’s something wrong with this and we are going to deal with it.”
And when Brand asked him “You are that government?”, Miliband responded: “Yeah.”
Prime Minister David Cameron denounced Mr Miliband’s meeting with Brand as a “joke”.
Mr Cameron said during a campaign visit to a factory in north London: “As for Russell Brand, he 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.”
Mr Balls was also asked about calling the comedian a “pound shop Ben Elton” after his expletive-ridden rant criticising the shadow chancellor.
The Labour heavyweight replied: “It’s what the young people call banter, I’m told.
“It was on a comedy programme.”