The stand-up comedian Russell Brand was centre of attention at Anonymous' Million Mask March in London this week - could he be the leader the group is clearly in need of?

Russell Brand: Anonymous Leader?
Russell Brand joins thousands of protestors at Anonymous\' Million Mask March in central London on 5 November. (@Sparkers7)

As crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London on Tuesday evening, not everyone was pleased to see all the attention being lavished on comedian Russell Brand. Some muttered that the march was not about personal glory but about "persecuting bastards."

In the main however, most of the thousands of people - I estimate 1,000 and 2,000 attendees - who attended the Anonymous-organised Million Mask March in London on Guy Fawkes Night were pleased to see their protest getting some celebrity endorsement.

Brand, who was wearing the iconic Guy Fawkes mask, seemed happy to stand and pose for photos with dozens of people who wanted to congratulate him for his recent interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight.

In that interview Brand was criticised for advocating revolution with giving details on what his alternative vision for the UK was or how he could go about creating it.

In need of a leader

But here, in the middle of Trafalgar Square, he had a captive audience of the disaffected and disillusioned who looked willing to do his bidding, if only he would lead them.

If Brand is in need of such an 'army' to carry out his revolution, then it is also clear from Tuesday's event that Anonymous is very much in need of a leader.

Anonymous Million Mask March London
Protestors march down Whitehall towards parliament during Anonymous\' Million Mask March in London (IBTimes UK)

The problem is that the online hacktivist collective has always advocated a leaderless structure and would likely resist any attempt to corral their freedom to say and do as they like.

While everyone attending the march on Tuesday was not affiliated with Anonymous, the sheer volume of Guy Fawkes masks showed there is a very large group of people willing to pledge their allegiance to the movement.

Quickly fall apart

The leaderless organisational structure may work online, but when it comes to the real world, things quickly begin to fall apart.

The group organising the march had indicated online that the march would meet at Trafalgar Square at 6pm and carry out a "silent march" on parliament "for full intimidation, professionalism and dramatic effect."

However, as Brand began to become mobbed, and made a move towards the bottom of Trafalgar Square, some took it as a sign to begin the march and shouts went up of: "Let's march on parliament."

Others screamed: "It's too early. Do you not read, it's not meant to start until 8 o'clock."

Too late

But it was too late, the march had began. As the first protestors crossed onto Whitehall they began banging on cars and buses, shouting that "This is our street." The silent march was not very silent.

Anonymous Million Mask March London
A protestor jumps on a bus in Parliament Square during Anonymous\' Million Mask March in London (IBTimes UK)

As the crowd made its way down Whitehall past Downing Street and the Cenotaph, chants could be heard from various points within the group. Some were incendiary: "Let's f**king burn London", while others were more sedate: "Who's street? Our street."

By the time the group reached the entrance to Parliament Square a line of police blocked any further progress - though at no stage were they preventing people from leaving the march.

At this stage there seemed further confusion. No one was clear about what was to happen next. One masked man shouted: "Let's take the f**king bridge" before running away from Westminister Bridge with a gaggle of fellow Anons in tow, seemingly unsure about the gregraphy of Whitehall.


Once the group was allowed into Parliament Square the disparate nature of the protest became even more apparent. Some were looking to angrily confront the police while others were happy to dance to Bob Marley songs pumping from a speaker in the middle of the street. There were conceptual dancers, human beatboxes, fire-breathers and grandmothers.

Wandering around the area for 30 minutes, I came across little enclaves spouting rhetoric about subjects as diverse as revolution, "Nazi scum" policemen, corrupt politicians and even badger culling.

As one man squared up to within a few millimetres of a policeman's face shouting that he was paying the policeman's wages, others were shouting that the police were not the enemy and they were "just like us."

It was as if no one had got the memo. No one really knew where anyone else stood.


The number of people attending the protest was much larger than I had imagined but the power of such a crowd was completely wasted through a lack of a coherent message being promoted.

Anonymous Million Mask March London
Police surrounded by protestors in Parliament Square in London during Anonymous\' Million Mask March (IBTimes UK)

I still don't really know what Anonymous hoped to achieve with the march. I don't know what there message was. I'm pretty sure the protest didn't even register on David Cameron's radar.

What was lacking was a unifying voice to lead them - a talisman to cultivate the anger and disaffection which was clear for all to see among young and old at the protest last night.

I'm not sure Russell Brand would be interested in leading such a group, or if he is happy to proselytise from the mound but not get his hands dirty among the people whose lives have really been affected by the corrupt politicians they rail against.


I'm not advocating Brand as a messiah. I am saying he could use his profile to make sure that people like Cameron hear the messages and ideas of groups like Anonymous.

Indeed in a piece Brand wrote for the Guardian this week, he says himself that the ideas need to come from everyone, not just him:

"Luckily with organisations like them, Occupy, Anonymous and The People's Assembly I don't need to come with ideas, we can all participate. I'm happy to be a part of the conversation, if more young people are talking about fracking instead of twerking we're heading in the right direction."

Anonymous Million Mask March London
A protestor lies prone in front of police during the anonymous Million Mask March in London (IBTimes UK)

Anonymous is without a doubt a powerful group online, with the ability to mobilise and influence large numbers of people who feel disaffected and disillusioned with modern Britain.

But without a leader, that power will never translate itself into the real world and real solutions.

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