Here’s part of my interview with comedian Jolyon Rubinstein (The Revolution Will Be Televised), who has just completed a documentary to be shown tomorrow on BBC 3 – An Idiot’s Guide To Politics – about why the Facebook generation is so disengaged from politics:
Tom Pride: Is it true that David Cameron refused to meet you during the making of your documentary? If so, what reason did he give? Did any other MPs refuse to meet you?
Jolyon Rubinstien: All three leaders of the main political parties declined our invitations to sit down for interviews. Cameron’s office flirted with us for a while, there was some back and forth. I thought he was just playing hard to get, but then he finally said no. Even when I said I had a £50K cheque for him (which would have bounced) he wasn’t having it. I think our agenda scares the main political parties, we are not interested in following their narrative you see. We have real questions about why the Facebook generation doesn’t trust politicians and they don’t like it. I think personally all three of them would have preferred to be interviewed by Steph & Dom from Googlebox. Maybe I’ll pretend to be them next time and see what happens.
TP: On a scale of 1 to 10 – where 1 is completely and utterly out-of-touch and 10 is incredibly and unbelievably out-of-touch – how out-of-touch with young people would you say UK politicians are?
JR: The thing I think we need to be careful of is lumping them all together. People like Zac Goldsmith (Con), Caroline Lucas (Green), Paul Flynn (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem) are very in tune with what the younger generations make of the Westminster and more than that they are actively engaged in challenging the perception. However, I think the party leaderships of all the big 3 are on a 14 or 15. They don’t give a toss. They recognise they don’t need young people to vote for them to maintain the status quo. In a way it’s better for them that young people aren’t engaged. They are analogue leaders in a digital age and are about as exciting as a Commodore 64 for kids who are used to playing Playstation 3’s.
TP: Tory MP Zac Goldsmith told you that “lying in parliament is staple”. How can you be sure he wasn’t lying?
JR: I can’t I suppose but I reckon I’m a pretty good judge of character. Zac wanted to address the concerns he has raised in a recall bill that would give more power to voters if an MP is seen by them to have misbehaved or to have let them down. More than anything I think Zac is just thoroughly pissed off with the state of play in Westminster and saw me as a good person to vent to. Like a shrink, or an agony aunt, just with with a camera and a dodgy hair cut.
TP: Young people (and older too) often say that their vote doesn’t count because big money dominates politics. After talking to disillusioned young people, do you think restricting the funding of political parties in some way would make young people more likely to vote?
JR: It would help yeah, but honestly there needs to be a movement that demands a completely new political culture. I still think we are a way off a time where young people really can feel, in a tangible way, that politicians are screwing with their lives directly. It’s ironic really because with tuition fee increases, cuts in benefits for the under 25’s, rising rents, rising house prices, the end of the EMA and the closures of youth centres (and a certain BBC channel which made programs for them) that’s exactly what’s happening. My film tries to draw a lot of the threads together and tries to say voting takes 5 minutes, if we all did it they’d pay far more bloody attention to what we actually want.
Jolyon’s documentary – An Idiot’s Guide To Politics – goes out
on Wednesday 11th February at 9pm on BBC Three
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