Mass-media hype about Michael Sheen may be premature – but let’s stand with him against right-wing populism

It seems reports that the actor will quit acting and leave his partner, Sarah Silverman, in California while he moves to Port Talbot to fight right-wing populism, are exaggerated. But what WILL he do? [Image: Getty.]

If there is any good to be found as a result of the rise of right-wing populism, it is in the rise of principled people to fight it – people like Michael Sheen.

It’s possible the mass media – such as The Independent, in the example below – may have over-hyped comments in a recent interview –

And who can blame him? How many of us would put our career on hold – possibly forever – and our personal relationships in jeopardy because we believes the danger posed by these demagogues is too great to ignore?

Not many, I fear.

But every little helps, and any contribution by a man with Michael Sheen’s public profile – his latest film, Passengers, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, as about to be released in the UK – will help a lot.

That is one reason This Writer has contacted him to ask how the social media can help.

Another is the fact that he supported my Freedom of Information bid to make the government reveal any information it had on the number of people who have died while claiming sickness benefits – along with the principle of freedom of information, when the Conservatives threatened it.

This is a story worth watching, and a man worth helping, if we can.

Michael Sheen is so disturbed by the rise of far-right populism he is quitting acting to become an activist, and says he does not know if his relationship with Sarah Silverman will survive.

Sheen will leave Silverman, his partner of two years, and family in Los Angeles and move to Port Talbot in south Wales to combat the wave of “demagogic, fascistic” politics he believes has engulfed the West in the past decade.

Sheen has become increasingly politically and socially active since coordinating the 2011 play The Passion in Port Talbot with hundreds of local people. He works with the children’s charity Unicef and has spent months travelling through Britain and Spain looking at community projects he could emulate in his hometown. “The greatest service you can do is to serve the whole, is to serve the story that you’re a part of,” he added. “The story is bigger than any one individual within it.”

In 2015, he gave a blistering, urgent speech about the dismantling of the NHS, the ineffectiveness of modern MPs, who he lambasted for being too “careful, tentative, scared of saying what they feel for fear of alienating a part of the electorate”, and the importance of conviction. Sheen said the overwhelming reaction to his speech, delivered at a rally in south Wales in the pouring rain, made him realise he could rouse support.

Source: Michael Sheen will quit acting to become a full-time activist over fears of far-right populism

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2 thoughts on “Mass-media hype about Michael Sheen may be premature – but let’s stand with him against right-wing populism

  1. Barry Davies

    I wonder why anyone would complain about populism after all it swings between the right wing being popular and the left wing being popular why no rants against left wing populism if populism is supposed to be so bad. Let’s be honest it is populist claims that get people elected which they then forget very quickly after the vote has been counted.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Populism is an appeal to the interests, hopes and fears of the general public. If it was motivated by a genuine interest in helping, then there would be no problem.
      But it isn’t.
      Modern populism is about mobilising the public to get on-side, usually with a party that has extremely – or at least highly – right-wing policies. Once the public has supported the party, it then ditches the promises it made and concentrates on its own programme, that has nothing to do with what the public wants.

      If I were you, I would copy the above paragraphs and save them to your computer, so you can remind yourself of the current definition from time to time.

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