Bernie Sanders praises 'courageous' Jeremy Corbyn for 'revitalising democracy'

Former US presidential candidate tells The Independent there are 'similarities' between himself and the Labour leader

Benjamin Kentish
Cambridge
Friday 02 June 2017 20:46 BST
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Bernie Sanders praises 'courageous' Jeremy Corbyn for 'revitalising democracy'

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Bernie Sanders has said he sees similarities between himself and Jeremy Corbyn as he praised the Labour leader for “revitalising democracy”.

The former US presidential candidate was speaking at the Cambridge Union during a visit to the UK.

Answering a question from The Independent, Mr Sanders claimed there were “similarities” between himself and Mr Corbyn.

He said: “What Corbyn has tried to do with the Labour Party is not dissimilar to what some of us are trying to do with the Democratic Party, and that is to make it a party that is much more open and inviting for working people and young people and not have a liberal elite making the decisions from the top down.

“I think what Corbyn is doing is trying to revitalise democracy, bring a lot of new people into the political process and I think that’s an excellent idea. That’s what we need in countries all over the world and certainly what we are trying to do in the United States.”

Mr Corbyn's team had been hoping the senator would endorse him during his visit. Mr Sanders stopped short of that, but praised the Labour leader for his “courage” in raising issues of economic inequality, saying it was easier to get people to support calls for equality on the grounds of gender, race and sexuality than it was to highlight economic divisions.

He said: “Corbyn has shown a lot of courage in dealing with some of the economic issues.

“If I were to give a speech about women’s rights, people would say, ‘That’s great Bernie’. If I were to give a speech about gay rights, people would say, ‘That’s great Bernie, we need to fight homophobia’. If I were to give a speech about combating racism, people would say, ‘That’s great, we cannot tolerate racism’ and people respond to that.

“But what is harder for people to deal with is the fact that increasingly in this country and in my country, we are looking at oligarchic forms of government.

“I applaud Jeremy Corbyn for raising those issues because at the end of the day if we are going to create governments that work for all of us, if we’re going to deal with healthcare and create great education systems and protect the environment and combat climate change… we need to have a government of what Abraham Lincoln described as of the people, by the people and for the people, and not a government of billionaires and large, multinational corporations. So I applaud Corbyn for raising those issues.”

Mr Sanders also attacked Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“It was stupid and dangerous… and a setback for the entire planet,” he said.

“When Trump ran for president, he indicated his opinion that, despite all the scientific evidence, Trump understood, uniquely, that climate change was a ‘hoax’.

“It is absurd and dangerous for the president of the most powerful nation on earth to reject science.

Bernie Sanders with Cambridge Union speakers office Jonah Surkes (Cambridge Union Society)
Bernie Sanders with Cambridge Union speakers office Jonah Surkes (Cambridge Union Society) (Cambridge Union Society/Quiying Giulia Lai)

“Every public policy that is developed has to be based on science and on facts, and not on ‘alternative facts’.

“It goes without saying that Donald Trump is not one of my favourite presidents,” he quipped.

“In very strange times we have a very strange president … We have a president who lies all the time.”

Mr Sanders also slammed what he called Mr Trump’s “disastrous” budget, claiming it would “go down in history as the most reactionary, anti-working-class budget over presented by a president in US history”.

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