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Sanders campaign team members helping UK’s Corbyn

Volunteers using their know-how to instruct activists on drumming up support for Labour candidate, days before general election

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn answers questions from the studio audience as he takes part in the 'May v Corbyn Live: The Battle for Number 10,' Sky News and Channel 4 event at Sky Studios in London, May 29, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Stefan Rousseau)
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn answers questions from the studio audience as he takes part in the 'May v Corbyn Live: The Battle for Number 10,' Sky News and Channel 4 event at Sky Studios in London, May 29, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Stefan Rousseau)

Members of former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders campaign team are in Britain helping out Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn in his attempt to become the next UK prime minister, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Momentum, described as a “left-wing pressure group,” is holding training sessions for Labour activists to teach them how to effectively campaign and some of the instructors are from Sanders’s 2016 team.

Although he didn’t win the Democratic nomination, losing to rival Hillary Clinton who had the support of her party’s state committees, Sanders the outsider did win the vote in key states such as Indiana, New Hampshire and Michigan during primaries. Corbyn is trailing in polls behind Prime Minister Theresa May of the Conservative party.

Erika Uyterhoeven, a 30-year-old from Boston, is one of those lending her knowledge to the Corbyn campaign.

Summing up the Sanders approach, she said, “The right can throw money at elections – we throw people.”

Uyterhoeven explained that she was drawn to Corbyn by his sincerity, a trait she said he shares with Sanders.

“One thing for Bernie, and I think this applies for Corbyn too, is there is a certain integrity behind it,” she said.

“There’s a slogan –”You can’t buy Bernie.” He’s never been swayed by money or political influence,” she added. “Corbyn is the same, he’s not doing this for glory or his ego or money, he’s there for the people. That’s a new thing in politics, and I think that’s what has got so many people involved.”

Corbyn, who became the head of Labour in 2015, is a hard-left politician whom the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said “most people in the Jewish community can’t trust” because of Corbyn’s praise for Hezbollah and Hamas and perceived failures in addressing anti-Semitic rhetoric by some of his supporters.

British Prime Minister Theresa May walks out to take part in the 'May v Corbyn Live: The Battle for Number 10,' Sky News and Channel 4 event in at Sky Studios in London, May 29, 2017. (AFP/POOL/Stefan ROUSSEAU)
British Prime Minister Theresa May walks out to take part in the ‘May v Corbyn Live: The Battle for Number 10,’ Sky News and Channel 4 event at Sky Studios in London, May 29, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Stefan Roussea)

On Monday Corbyn and May took diverging tacks over Brexit negotiations as they faced a live televised grilling ahead of the June 8 general election.

Ten days before the snap polls, the two rivals separately faced wide-ranging questions from members of the public before interrogations by veteran bulldog broadcaster Jeremy Paxman.

May declined a face-to-face debate with Corbyn, whose opposition party has in recent days narrowed the gap in opinion polls, though the ruling Conservatives remain in front.

While Corbyn insisted he would “make sure there’s a deal” with the European Union before Britain leaves the bloc, May said she was “prepared to walk out”.

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” the 60-year-old prime minister repeatedly said in the Sky News/Channel 4 “Battle for Number 10” broadcast.

“We have to be prepared to walk out,” the premier insisted, noting that some people in Europe were “talking about punishing us.”

Her 68-year-old rival Corbyn said the “reality” of last year’s Brexit referendum result had to be respected and insisted: “We will make sure there’s a deal”.

“We won’t start the negotiations with megaphone diplomacy, threatening Europe with some kind of offshore tax haven on the shores of Europe,” he said in a dig at May’s efforts to handle Brexit.

Britain's opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, center, waves to supporters as he is walks past a campaign bus in Ashton-under-Lyne, north-west England, May 9, 2017 (AFP/Paul ELLIS)
Britain’s opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, center, waves to supporters as he is walks past a campaign bus in Ashton-under-Lyne, north-west England, May 9, 2017 (AFP/Paul Ellis)

Both candidates officially supported staying in the EU before the referendum held last June, which saw 52 percent of British voters opt to leave the bloc.

Formal talks on Britain’s withdrawal are due to start on June 19, just 11 days after the general election.

May triggered Article 50 — the formal procedure for leaving the EU — in late March, opening a two-year timetable for negotiations before withdrawal.

Security was also high on the agenda on Monday, in the wake of the Manchester suicide bombing a week ago which saw 22 people killed and led to brief suspension in political campaigning.

May, who was at times heckled by the audience during the televised questioning, was asked by a serving policeman about “devastating” cuts to police numbers during her six-year tenure as interior minister.

She said the government had had to ensure Britain was “living within our means” given “the economic situation we had inherited.”

She said budgets were currently being protected for both counter-terrorism forces and overall policing.

Corbyn meanwhile was grilled over his controversial relationship with the Irish Republican Army, nuclear deterrence and whether he would abolish the monarchy, given his republican stance.

“It’s not on anybody’s agenda, it’s certainly not on my agenda and, do you know what, I had a very nice chat with the Queen,” he said.

Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party and a leading Brexit campaigner, said in a surprise tweet that Corbyn came across in the broadcast as being “totally sincere”, although he did not agree with him.

“Saying ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ 4 times will win May the election. But she is a weathercock who believes in very little,” Farage said.

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