He is paid to grill politicians, get under their skin and find out what they are hiding. And Jeremy Paxman has revealed that during one general election he was so appalled by what was on offer that he didn’t bother to vote.
Writing in this week’s issue of Radio Times, the scabrous Newsnight presenter discusses his encounter with comedian Russell Brand on the show (below) and admits that he understands why the comedian has never cast a vote in the UK.
“Russell Brand has never voted, because he finds the process irrelevant,” writes Paxman. “I can understand that: the whole green-bench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self-important echo-chamber. But it is all we have.
“In one recent election, I decided not to vote, because I thought the choice so unappetising. By the time the polls had closed and it was too late to take part, I was feeling really uncomfortable: the person who chooses not to vote – cannot even be bothered to write ‘none of the above’ on a ballot paper – disqualifies himself from passing any comment at all.”
Paxman says that we “ignore the democratic process at our peril” and believes people should vote. However he is also damning about the opportunities on offer when the people of Britain go to the polls to chose the next government.
“At the next election we shall have a choice between the people who’ve given us five years of austerity, the people who left us this mess, and the people who signed public pledges that they wouldn’t raise student fees, and then did so – the most blatant lie in recent political history,” writes Paxman.
“It won’t be a bombshell if very large numbers of the electorate simply don’t bother to vote. People are sick of the tawdry pretences.”
Read Jeremy Paxman in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday