At first, they liked him. The audience of last night’s Question Time actually liked Russell Brand, the millionaire Marxist comedian turned far left foghorn.
Shifting in his seat, fidgeting, fiddling with his beard or scratching his chest through his open shirt, Brand could have been buoyed by his initial reception. Wild cheers came his way as he trotted out prepared attack lines against cliched leftist bogeymen: the City, the rich (except him), Nigel Farage.
Instead, it went the opposite way. Brand left the studio having lost much of the audience, sunken into his chair, almost reclusive compared to his usually extrovert eccentricities.
What happened? Put simply, Russell Brand was frit. Worse than that, he looked terrified. After Brand strayed from his notes – which at times he clung onto for dear life – and accused Farage of attacking the disabled, the microphone came to a gentleman in the audience wielding a walking stick.
He demolished Brand’s ill-judged smear and called his bluff: if he is the saviour of the masses, why doesn’t he have the nerve to stand for parliament? Brand stuttered. This was the question he feared most.
“Because I’m afraid I would become one of them,” he whispered, barely convincing himself. Howls of derision from the room. They all knew the truth, audience, panel and Brand together.
For all his bravado, this is a man scared of having to face the scrutiny of the people at the ballot box, scared that his hackneyed, teenage ideology will be resoundingly, humiliatingly rejected by the people he claims to represent.