Senator Bernie Sanders (left) and Jeremy Corbyn MP
Now the new leader of the UK’s Labour Party might not seem in any way connected to a hopeful campaigning to win the US’s Democratic Party nomination as its candidate for the Presidency but there are striking similarities.
Eventual winner of the Labour Party leadership election was, as of course we all know, Jeremy Corbyn. The guy struggled to get onto the ballot paper as not enough MPs supported him. In fact, he made it with only five minutes to go before nominations closed. And then only because some MPs who did not support him, and subsequently did not vote for him, decided to nominate him so that his arguments could be heard.
And heard they were, leading to the outsider, the maverick who has often rebelled and refused to vote as instructed by party whips, being elected with an amazing 59.5% of the votes cast. He won the majority of votes of trade unionists, full members and party supporters. But not the majority of MPs, those he now has to lead in parliament.
Those MPs who nominated him but never actually supported Corbyn or his policies must now regret their actions. He was not supposed to win; he was almost a joke candidate. But his left-wing old Labour message rang true with so many and he quickly became regarded as the most authentic of the four candidates – which is why the pro-Corbyn landslide crushed the other three candidates.
In America, the fight to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the November 2016 election for the office of President is well under way. In the early stages, this was dominated by Hillary Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton. Of course, since being First Lady she has been a Senator, a contender for being the party candidate eight years ago when she lost to Obama, and then served as his Secretary of State during his first term in the White House.
Since enjoying a great start, out of nowhere came competition in the form of a left wing senator from Vermont. Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist (a word that was once labelled its owner as being un-American and untrustworthy). Now, though, it is Hillary’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State that is leading to her being widely considered the one who cannot be trusted.
While Sander’s policies may be different to Corbyn’s, although some may be quite familiar, his campaign message resonates with those that distrust the establishment and want a new way. Labour high-ups did not want Corbyn and Democratic chiefs don’t want Sanders.
This may be because both Corbyn and Sanders seem to be advocating a new kind of politics and it is this that appears to have caught the imagination of voters. Sanders is now the front runner in both New Hampshire and Iowa, two states that in January will choose whom they support. His fundraising is now at the same level as Clinton’s, he has energised a great deal of support among the young as well as the traditionally disaffected.
Corbyn has also tapped into this pool of support – with the Labour Party’s membership growing by 50,000 in the first week after his election. That is an increase of more than 16% and is still growing.
Could Jeremy Corbyn’s dramatic win in the UK be an indication that Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat candidate for the Presidency?