Dazzle Rebel returns to TBFM Online Radio on Monday 13th April. Be sure to tune in – visit www.tbfmonline.co.uk/chatroom
Dale Vince is someone I very much want to like. He is a former New Age Traveller and a vegan, just the type of person who seems to have a good old story to tell. He is also an industrialist, founding Ecotricity, his renewable energy company. I like renewable energy, it’s nice and fluffy and helps reduce my carbon emissions meaning I can ride my motorcycles more. What’s more he has similar haircut to mine and is worried about the sustainability of life – like me. Yes he is someone I very much want to like.
So why do I find myself thinking that actually, this guy is a bit of a dick? Well I’ll come to that in a moment but first let me give you a bit of background on Dale’s company, Ecotricity. As a company that trades under the Green Energy banner it entices altruistic customers who don’t mind paying a premium for their energy requirements under the stipulation that the company invests in renewable energy with the profits. Sounds nice and fair doesn’t it? Well it hooked me and many others too, 155,398 people at the time of writing. The thought that I’m paying over the odds for my energy is easily reconciled as I am helping to invest in a greener future for us all. So far so good.
So Ecotricity = plucky, progressive, sustainability loving company that likes to challenge the status quo? Well I thought so right up until I learned that Dale donated £250,000 of Ecotricity’s cash to the Labour Party. You could say that this made me a little bit pissed off but that would be an understatement. Livid is closer but add a good dose of bemusement and you’ll be right on the money as to how I’m feeling right now. A Green Energy company donating a quarter of a million pounds to the Labour Party. It doesn’t quite compute and it seems that I’m not the only one who has taken offense to this move.
Within hours of making the announcement Ecotricity’s Facebook page was awash with comments from disgruntled customers just as confused, pissed off and bewildered as me. Of course the Labour faithful had also gotten a hold of the story too so there was the odd po-faced detrimental comment from them about the Green Party and the term “Vote Green Go Blue” was branded about without much thought. Though aside from the vitriol there were objective comments from both sides.
It might be true to say that a Tory/UKIP coalition government would be the worst result to come out of the election. This is the reason Dale Vince has given for his actions but there’s no strong evidence that a Labour/UKIP coalition is off the cards either. Which would really be the lesser of two evils? In the wake of an overwhelming UKIP result and a lackluster Lib Dem and Green turn out would Labour really choose not to seek a coalition with the purple party? Regardless of tactical voting how about the very issue that money that we the customers believed was to be invested in renewable energy was now lacing Miliband’s war chest?
Would I be as pissed off if they had donated the money to the Green Party? Probably not but issue remains, as a customer I did not expect my Green Energy company to be making its bed with a Labour government that refuses to condemn the practice of fracking. I expected this money to be invested in renewable energy. A quarter of a million pounds donation to a party I do not believe in because the owner of my energy company wants to try to block the Tories from forming a consecutive government? No thank you. If Dale Vince wanted to donate money to Labour he should have done so with his own money. For a Green Energy company boss to alienate his customers who may vote any other way than Labour (especially the Greens) is a huge faux pas that must be up there with Gerald Ratner?
Thanks for reading, please feel free to lend me your thoughts.
I love Stephen Fry and I love Russell Brand. They are incredible human beings whose views and beliefs often overlap with those of my own. I was therefore somewhat taken back when good old Rusty Rockets took offense over Stephen Fry’s comments during an interview on RTE, an Irish Public Service TV channel. He was so enraged that he made Fry the subject of his regular YouTube programme ‘The Trews’ where he laid into Fry and his blasphemous ways.
Well OK it didn’t quite happen like that, in fact Brand was actually quite benign. His Fox News baiting persona was turned down to disappointed friend mode as he made his case on the subject of spirituality. When it comes to spirituality and religious beliefs I personally think “each to their own” and as long as they are not preaching hate or shouting down ‘sinners’ in the street like the old manic street preacher (no not James Dean Bradfield) who used to hail abuse at my gang of mates as we walked through Dunstable town centre.
It seemed that Brand had taken Fry’s public slamming of a wicked and ruthless ‘God’ to heart and went on the offensive as he turned into a spiritualist zealot delving into questions that had no real answers, logical or otherwise. As much as he was dismantling traditional religious dogma he was in turn pedalling his own spiritual theory and ideology. It was bizarre thing for me to watch and made for uncomfortable viewing.
I like Brand and his feral cat like persona. He is a champion of many good causes and I applaud the way he exposes the flaws in the political systems across the globe. I find myself agreeing with his views on the redistribution of wealth, that a change is needed in our political system and that the decriminalisation and destigmatization of drugs and their users can only lead to improvements in public health and treatment of addiction. For these I applaud his efforts though I am not sure I agree with his simplistic belief in an anarchy system. I don’t think a system where people self-govern would really work in today’s overcrowded world.
I like Fry too. He has done a lot to highlight the plights of depression and like Brand, drug addiction. For sheer entertainment value Fry is a hoot in whatever I’ve seen him in, be it on panel shows or in character. It’s difficult not to love such an apologetic persona. Listening to his answers given to Gay Byrne (the RTE host) I thought what he said was more than justified in the context of the interview. When probed further about spirituality I felt that Fry was adequate in his response, especially as it seemed he was being backed into a corner a little by Byrne.
As much as I would like to take this opportunity to analyse and probe what Brand stated in regards to his spiritual ‘truth’, I fear I would only be doing the same Brand did to Fry. Though Brand’s polite attack on Fry has obviously grieved me I feel it would be hypocritical of me to counter Brand’s spiritualist notions phrase by phrase. Personally I don’t have issue with what Mr Brand does or doesn’t believe in and judging by Fry’s interview I doubt that he does either.
It’s not just Brand who has zoned in on Fry’s comments. Pavan Dhaliwal of the Independent has used Fry’s comments on the subject to highlight the fact that not everybody around the world enjoys the same level of free speech as we do in the UK. Indeed even in Ireland, where the interview took place, there are some rather antiquated laws regarding blasphemy which Fry could well be in breach of. Though it’s highly unlikely that Fry would see any recourse for his blasphemous rantings (other than a whole Russell Brand Trews episode dedicated to the subject) others around the world are not so lucky. As Dhaliwal’s article points out in Saudi Arabia, Muslim blogger Raif Badawi was arrested on a charge for the crime of insulting Islam by running a website that criticized religious leaders. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and one thousand lashes. She also notes that Blasphemy is illegal in 49 countries. So be careful what you say when you’re abroad!
It seems though that Fry saw the funny side and responded to The Trews episode with his trademark wit on Twitter. Brand responded and it looks like all is forgiven. But the whole debarkle has raised a valid point. In the UK we must be thankful that the worst that can happen for being a little blasphemous on UK soil is you might rile a few angry religious leaders and receive a Russell Brand Trews inquisition. I’ll leave you with this little thought that sums up my beliefs; everything in nature is so awe inspiring and incredible why do we need to invent something which explains it?
Watch the interview:
Watch The Trews:
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