May 18, 2017
Bernie Sanders is visiting the UK, days before the general election… to sell books
by Nikki Griffiths
US Senator, progressive firebrand, and What We Do Now contributor Bernie Sanders will be making it over to the UK before Donald Trump. The Donald’s state visit was postponed earlier this year because, well, we all hate him over here. It’s looking like we’ll get the pleasure of his presence in October, as, according to the Independent’s Andrew Griffin, “By that time, protests over Mr Trump’s Muslim ban and other controversial policies may have died down and the trip will be less embarrassing, officials hope.”
We’re apparently like goldfish over here: we forget things quickly.
In the meantime, Sanders will be visiting in June to promote his book Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, published in the UK as a paperback by Profile Books. It also just so happens he’ll be here a few days before the UK’s general election on 8th June.
The Independent’s Christopher Hooton reports:
He is expected to recount experiences from the campaign trail, on which he created a seismic shift in leftist politics, and outline how to move forward with progressive agendas in a post-Trump, post-Brexit world.
The visit also comes at an interesting time, according to Claire Sandberg, Sanders’s campaign aide and digital organising director, who believes progressive uprisings and calls for “alternative politics” are growing among disillusioned UK voters, just as they have in the US. She told the Independent’s May Bulman:
“There’s this powerful grassroots energy in the US to offer a different kind of politics—a meaningful alternative to forcefully reject the politics of hatred and division and offer a political agenda that will materially improve people’s lives—in recognition that establishment Democratic Party politics failed to stop Donald Trump.
“Obviously it’s different in the UK because the election gets called very suddenly and there’s hardly any time, but I’m seeing the beginnings of what could be a similar progressive wave. It does feel like there’s the appetite for a different type of politics, and people realise that the stakes are extremely high.”
Bernie Sanders’s visit also enables a family reunion, as his brother, Larry, lives in the UK and is the Green Party of England and Wales’s health spokesperson, as well as its current parliamentary candidate for Oxford East. He believes the family link is “usually helpful,” and recently told the Press Association:
“Theresa May is not as horrible as Trump, but this politics of nastiness, of making life harder for disabled people, of underfunding the NHS to a drastic degree, no housing for most young people.
“I think people feel that we have gone in the wrong direction and they sometimes wish they had someone like Bernard to stand up for them, I’m trying.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping that Sanders will endorse him and the party, saying in an interview with the Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill and Dan Roberts, “I think he probably will, actually. But we mustn’t predict these things.” Corbyn also said he had “a lot of time for Bernie.”
Sanders will appear first at the Brighton Festival on 1st June, moving on to the Cambridge Union, Oxford Sheldonian, Brixton Academy, Bristol Festival of Ideas, and the Hay Literary Festival. He is, ultimately, here on a book tour. But it will be interesting to see if Corbyn gets his endorsement, and if it could have any impact days before we all cast our votes in this controversial, Brexit-fueled, last-minute election.
Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.