Eddie Izzard's Political Page

(updated 09.18)


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Veterans are joined by comedian Eddie Izzard (2nd R, back) during the Normandy Veterans' Association parade and service in Whitehall, central London on June 21, 2009. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the mass landing of Allied forces in northern France during the Second World War. Eddie Izzard became involved in veterans campaigns after meeting a former Royal Navy sailor, Billy Swift, five years ago. Following Swift's death in 2008, Izzard travelled with veterans to Normandy to scatter his ashes at this year's anniversary ceremony.


Comic Eddie Izzard's poignant tribute to his D-Day hero pals

A family and a famous comedian made an emotional pilgrimage to Normandy to scatter the ashes of a hero war veteran.

Sixty five years ago Billy Swift was a 21-year-old Royal Navy sailor who risked his life for his country during the D-Day landings.

Sadly, he never lived to commemorate the 65th anniversary after passing away in March last year aged 85.

It was Mr Swift's wish that his ashes be scattered in Normandy at the next big D-Day commemoration.

On Sunday more than 40 relatives and friends boarded two amphibious DUKWs and scattered his ashes in the sea off Hermanville, Sword Beach, for a service his family said would have made him proud,

Eddie Izzard was among the people who attended the service for Mr Swift, of New Road, Lovedean, who served on HMS Scourge.

The comedian met Mr Swift on the ferry en route to the 60th anniversary celebrations in Normandy five years ago.

The pair instantly hit it off and had remained friends until his death.

Mr Swift's granddaughter Georgia said she had to fight back tears during the service, in which she sang Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem on the beach.

The congregation then boarded the DUKWs and went half-a-mile out to sea.

Under blazing sunshine, his ashes were scattered in the sea, followed by flowers and a tot of rum for each family member.

Miss Swift, 32, from Southsea, said: 'We thought it was going to be really rough, but it was very calm and just very, very emotional.

'As we went out and then turned back round, we saw the beach as they would have done 65 years ago.

'I could not believe the enormity of what they would be experiencing – the unknown and the impact it would have on the future. They liberated Europe from disaster.'

Mr Izzard wrote on his online blog about the service: 'May his memory and spirit live forever.'

Mr Swift had visited the Normandy coast many times in his life and was instrumental in the building of a memorial at Hermanville to pay tribute to the servicemen of 23rd Destroyer Flotilla.

'He was very enthusiastic and proud of the achievements of his comrades,' added Miss Swift. 'He was very proud to be a part of D-Day.'

Members of Mr Swift's family with Eddie Izzard (second from right) – from left to right: Georgia Swift, Sjoke Swift, Angela Swift, Ray Swift, Jimmy Ring and Anneke Swift. PICTURE: Ivor Sadler


The DUKWs travelled 36 hours from Portsmouth across the English Channel to be part of the service.

The Swift family got them after contacting the owners, from Holland, who had restored them.

The six-ton 31ft trucks were used during the Second World War for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks.

They reached a top speed of 50mph on land and 6mph on water.

Around 2,000 were used by British forces during the Second World War.





COMEDIAN Eddie Izzard, who helped raised cash to pay for many of the veterans to get to Normandy, yesterday issued a plea that their bravery should never be forgotten.

He said: “What the veterans did in June 1944 was a beautiful thing, beating fascism.

“It was so important then and it remains so even today. Look at the rise of the BNP.”

Izzard, speaking to the Sunday Express in Bayeux, the first town to be liberated by the Allies after the D-Day landings, said that he had been delighted to help the veterans after the Government refused to finance what for many of them will be their final pilgrimage to the graves of their comrades.

“I jumped on board to help because I’m fanatical about World War Two history and it’s importance,” he said.

“It’s crucial that we never forget about what happened in Normandy on D-Day.

“The veterans deserve the utmost respect for what they achieved.

“But they are dying off now so it’s up to us to keep their memory alive.”

Because Britain Matters

And for you people in the UK

Excerpts from Alastair Campbell's Blog

Holocaust survivor warns Britain not to give power to BNP
By Matt Blake 28/05/2009 (The Mirror)

Gisela Feldman, 84, and Ken Reilly, 83, joined the Daily Mirror Hope Not Hate bus in Manchester to ask people to vote against the BNP in next week's European elections. Jewish Gisela was 15 when she fled Germany in 1938 as the Nazis killed her father.

She said: "We cannot allow the fascist BNP into our politics no matter what they promise. "I lived through the Nazi regime and remember the Brown Shirts marching through Berlin.

Ken fought in the Royal Armoured Corps during D-Day and the Battle of Arnhem. He said: "We must look through the BNP's false brandishments. Hatred is an abomination and we must vote for hope not hate."

Comic Eddie Izzard, who joined us at the Imperial War Museum North, said: "Meeting Gisela and Ken reminds us of the sacrifices their generation made so we can live in a hate-free society. But now, 60 years on, we've got the BNP dragging us back in time.

"Voting against the BNP is to vote for hope against hate."

Eddie Izzard says we owe it to WW2 heroes not to let in BNP

The British National Party aired its election broadcast on our televisions last night.

'Not only did far-right leader Nick Griffin compare himself to Winston Churchill, he also claimed the fallen of the Second World War would be "turning in their graves" at what has happened to Britain.

I believe it is Churchill who would be turning in his grave to see the new Nazi party, the BNP, presenting itself as the heir to those who died fighting fascism.

As someone who has visited the beaches of Normandy many times, I'm horrified to see Griffin dressing himself in fallen heroes' clothing.

Next Thursday, June 4, the date of the European Elections, is just two days before the 65th anniversary of D-Day. It seems to me we are two very different generations but we are facing the exact same threat.

June 6, 1944, was one of the proudest days in British history. At H-Hour, 6.30am, the Normandy landings began. By sunset, 150,000 troops were on the beaches.

On June 4, 2009, our generation faces its own test of courage. This time the fascists aren't across the Channel, they're on our own shores.

Last time, 65 years ago, people from around the world got together to fight fascism. But this time, unless we stop them, the fascists will be democratically elected.

The racist BNP needs only a small swing in some areas, and at a time of unprecedented national anger with the mainstream parties.

When I went to the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings five years ago, I met Gunner Billy Swift.

Billy was a D-Day sailor and he set up a monument to those who died in the landings. Sadly, he has since passed away but his family will visit Normandy next week to spread his ashes in the sea.

Men like Billy would be bitterly disappointed to think fascists were being elected by voters 65 years after their comrades fell fighting them.

I was proud to be one of the funders of this year's trip to Normandy for the veterans. I did this because those men and women protected us from the Nazis.

In a recent film, Valkyrie, I tried to kill Hitler - so some people might think I've got a thing against Nazis. They'd be absolutely right.

But the idea was always false. If the same genetic people have kids with each other, we all know where that leads. It's called in-breeding.

It is the blend of your genes that makes you powerful and makes us, as a country, strong.

If your mum's from England and your dad's from Ukraine, that's a good thing. If you're born in Hawaii, your mum's a white woman from Kansas and your dad's a black man from Kenya, you could be president of the US - oh, hang on, that's already happened.

I was in the US for the elections and witnessed Hope's great victory.

Yet now, in Britain, we are about to elect racists to represent us in Europe.

I was born in Yemen but, whatever the place of my birth, I feel I am a British

European. I believe it's a weakness of the human spirit to hate people. And I am lucky because I have already seen what Hope can do.

I am taking my inspiration from Barack Obama, but I am also taking it from the hundreds of students, workers, housewives, activists, trade unionists, doctors, teachers, mums and dads who have been uniting these past weeks under the banner of Hope Not Hate.

Today, I will be in Manchester with the Hope Not Hate bus, meeting veterans and holocaust survivors and hearing their stories of the horrors that occurred when fascism almost triumphed 65 years ago.

June 4, 2009, is our D-Day and we owe it to that great generation to simply walk to the ballot box.

If you believe in humanity, in our modern, diverse country, I ask you to reject the politics of hate.

On election day, I will be voting Labour. But, whoever you vote for, make sure your vote counts.

Because of the way our electoral system works, not voting at all means the BNP are more likely to get in.

'So put a cross in any box you like - as long as it's not the BNP.

Eddie in Cardiff - Euro Campaign

Izzard Rants Against Racist Politics

Funnyman EDDIE IZZARD is urging his fellow Brits to stand up to a tide of fascism sweeping European politics - amid fears right-wing extremists could gain a foothold in the U.K.
Political activists in Britain have launched a campaign after concerns grew over the rise of far right-wing British National Party, whose members expect to pick up thousands of votes in the upcoming European Parliamentary Elections next month (June09).
And comedian-turned-actor Izzard has backed calls for voters to make a stand against the controversial party to stop it gaining ground.
Izzard, who played a German World War II officer involved in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 2008 movie Valkyrie, tells Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, "We all know the BNP is a racist party and racism is active hatred. The BNP talk about racial purity, a concept they learned from Hitler.
"I was in the U.S. for the elections and witnessed Hope's great victory. Yet now, in Britain, we are about to elect racists to represent us in Europe... If you believe in humanity, in our modern, diverse country, I ask you to reject the politics of hate."

Eddie Izzard and Kinnock's campaign

COMEDIAN Eddie Izzard is better known for surreal flights of fancy than political campaigning.

But yesterday the 47-year-old arrived on the streets of Cardiff to do just that.

A long time friend of Neil Kinnock, pro-Europe Labour party member Izzard had arrived from France. He stayed for an hour and a half urging shoppers on Queen Street to vote in the European elections on June 4.

A crowd of placard-waving Labour supporters and photographers were ready for his arrival as he strode toward the Nye Bevan statue just after 3.30pm.

Dressed in a black jacket, jeans and battered black leather boots the comic looked a world apart from the New Labour suits and ties around him.

And in these troubled times any politician would be envious of the cheers and smiles that greeted him.

Izzard, who was born in Aden before moving to Northern Ireland, later to Skewen in Neath Port Talbot as a five-year-old, was in Cardiff to urge people to vote in the European elections on June 4.

Standing on a soapbox – or stage as he called it – he said: “A lot of people are disgusted with politics at the moment but I am encouraging people to vote.”

Within moments of opening his mouth he was interrupted by a voice from the crowd shouting: “You’re off the telly! I’m Paul!”

Paul and friends promptly became part of the circus. Afterwards the straggly haired 19-year-old, from Grangetown, Cardiff, whose full name turned out to be Paul Mereno, announced he was over the moon at meeting Izzard. “He’s a legend!” he grinned.

Izzard was busy attracting attention elsewhere by now. Teenagers and their mums pointed fingers and whispered his name at one another. A musclebound dad took a picture of his daughter as she shyly shook his hand and said: “I’m Ffion.” But not everyone was impressed by the funnyman. One girl asked “Are you Gordon Brown?” followed by “Do you like Gordon Brown?” When he answered “yes” to the latter she walked off.

Speakers' Corner: Eddie Izzard
On the Politics Show, Sunday 17 February 2008, Jon Sopel interviewed Eddie Izzard. Eddie Izzard Every town and village, and the village idiot, would benefit from a Speakers Corner Eddie Izzard

EDDIE IZZARD: Well yes, erm Speakers Corner, well I've always thought as I've walked passed Speakers Corner and seen people talking and thought, this is the one in Hyde Park and thought I should jump up and start speaking about the things I'm erm, positive about, but it feels very raw but the idea that it's not anywhere else is is kinda crazy really.

JON SOPEL: So every town should have it's Speakers Corner?

EDDIE IZZARD: Yeah, every town and village and the village idiot, would maybe come and hold sway and cause you actually need a lot of balls as we say in the medical profession to erm, er, to do it to get up and do it, it's difficult enough to do stand-up, to do politics I think it's harder cause you have to get up and talk maybe it's easier, maybe it's harder, but you, you can bore people to death.

JON SOPEL: This isn't this nineteenth century, eighteenth we're in the internet age, Yes, we've got all sorts of other ways of communicating with each other.

EDDIE IZZARD: Yeah but we don't want to lose the ground level do you, I mean if we just had people saying hey we've got a massive following of people on the internet and then you ok let's go down to the Town Hall and make our views known and no-one turns up that's no good, you've gotta have people on the ground, ground level and I think it's, I think public opinion, I think public freedom of speech from the ground up to the internet if the internet is the space age.

JON SOPEL: is there still a value in this sort of face-to-face communication, arguing, debating?

EDDIE IZZARD: Yes, yes, I mean absolutely, there's this weird thing on television that, that erm, there's a lot of information arguing and debating I think a lot of people actually switch off in the middle of an argument or a debate because usually the people who are arguing and debating usually have pretty good points, and, and I think the mark of maturity is actually doubt, and if you do have doubt you go, you tend to go oh that guy is saying something interesting and that other person is saying something very interesting and you go, oh I don't know how to decide and it's a good and healthy thing to do but it is difficult to make decisions.

JON SOPEL: But if you kind of listen to phone-in or chat shows or whatever they happen to be you just get people speaking out they are permanently flicked to transmit and they are not on receive - yes - and that's a problem - yes - isn't it for having a dialogue.

EDDIE IZZARD: Yes it is and maybe on television maybe it's more so that way and maybe on our Speakers Corner it'll be less so and maybe people will say I hear your point because it's not soooooo, you know maybe it's not going out to millions, maybe people don't think it's going out to millions and maybe there's producers on television shows who are saying this guy seems to be on a one track screaming about something or other so let's bring him on and give him that completely full on view point.

JON SOPEL: And do you think one of the problems with political discourse is and I suspect the industry I work in is probably quite largely responsible for it, is the soundbite culture, ya know, yeah, can I condense a whole argument into fifteen seconds?

EDDIE IZZARD: yeah, I think, I think, that is a big problem as a transvestite I had to come up with soundbites, I had to come up with I had to come up with erm, executive transvestite, and action transvestite those two soundbites got me a long way .... you say action transvestites and people laugh and say oh alright and cause straight transvestites quite like that and I will fight people who give me grief.

JON SOPEL: And if you found yourself in one of these little villages or a town, anywhere in the United Kingdom and you had your soapbox, at your feet, what would your subject be?

EDDIE IZZARD: It would probably be Europe and, and if it was, I dunno know the English seem to be quite slow to grab hold of this idea or I think, I think the negative idea of Europe is a much easier idea. Who are they, stuff 'em we know us, yeah let us get on. Erm, but the fact when we say that we don't like the people up there or the people over there or the people in that town or the people in number twenty three , erm the negative viewpoint is a much easier one to sell the idea of saying I want to try, I don't know who all the French people and all the German people but I want, I think if civilisation is anything, if this life is to do with anything to do with anything then it's surely about trying to work with people.

JON SOPEL: Ok well you are a man of many words, sell us the idea, in a headline of why this matters.

EDDIE IZZARD: Why this matters, freedom of speech, is a wonderful thing and it matters because I think the strength of, of Britain is based upon it, ..... it is good if Nottingham are picking it up, and I think other towns should do it it is a great thing. People may not use it all the time, if it's cold and rainy, they'll probably won't use, but if you could mix it with the internet, even if you could have the internet stationed right next to it, or if people could have a webcam, that's was what they should do, that's not what they should do, this is what they should do maybe they should have a speakers corner with a web cam permanently on it, so you could go on it and see whose talking on the speakers corner on the internet so you can get both things at the same time.

JON SOPEL: Eddie Izzard thank you very much indeed.

EDDIE IZZARD: Not at all thank you.

Comedian Eddie Izzard on logic, God, Barack Obama, religion and politics in America

Eddie Izzard on Newsnight Review BBC2. Kirsty Wark talks to Eddie Izzard about atheism, his current live show ‘Stripped’ which begins its London run this month, and religion and politics in America.

Eddie Izzard: 'It also implies let's go and have sex'
Chief political correspondent Nicholas Watt struggles to interview comedian and Labour supporter Eddie Izzard at the party's conference in Manchester LISTEN HERE

Eddie Izzard on politics
Deborah Linton

March 02, 2009

COMEDIAN Eddie Izzard was in Manchester on a mission to make politics more interesting.

The actor and pro-European political activist had a strong message for the city's voters - urging them to go to the polls in this summer's European parliamentary elections.

Labour member Izzard, who was meeting Manchester University students, said he wanted to get more young people into politics.

He said: "If young people get active and learn about the subject they want to talk about and get involved in politics and that's fantastic.

"At these elections it's very important because if people don't vote then the BNP will get in. You have to get people when they're young and the more young people that get involved the better, just like Barack Obama's campaign. A lot of youth were involved in that so that was very exciting."

He met culture secretary Andy Burnham and Labour candidate Lucy Powell at the university before performing a gig to 'to pay for it all', he said.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Izzard donated £5,400 to help Lucy Powell compete for the Withington seat, held by Liberal Democrat John Leech.

Eddie Izzard hits out at BNP
Stand-up comic Eddie Izzard has been visiting Manchester in an effort to galvanise voters as fears spread of BNP wins in the forthcoming European parliamentary elections.

Analysts are concerned that low turnouts during local and European elections allow well-organised far-right groups to win important seats under the radar.

"If young people get active and learn about the subject they want to talk about and get involved in politics and that's fantastic," Mr Izzard said.

"At these elections it's very important because if people don't vote then the BNP will get in.

"You have to get people when they're young and the more young people that get involved the better, just like Barack Obama's campaign. A lot of youth were involved in that so that was very exciting."

While in Manchester, Mr Izzard met with culture secretary Andy Burnham and Labour candidate Lucy Powell, who he recently gave £5,400 to help fight the Withington seat – currently held by Lib Dem John Leech.

He then performed a gig to "pay for it all".

Eddie Izzard and Dennis Kucinich




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