Bernie Sanders’ British brother has drawn a parallel between the rise of the left in the UK and his brother’s success in the first primary of the US presidential election.
Larry Sanders, who stood in last year’s general election as the Green party candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, said the massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the ultra-rich had become a pressing issue for voters on both sides of the Atlantic.
Speaking after his brother’s 20-point win in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, Larry Sanders told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there were similarities between his brother’s anti-austerity policies and the leftward turn of Labour heralded by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
He said: “There are similarities. Jeremy Corbyn is anti-austerity, and I must say the Green party’s policies are in the same direction and they speak to the same issues. It’s not quite as unequal [in the UK] as America, but it’s pretty bad.”
Voters in New Hampshire delivered a resounding rebuke to the US political establishment on Tuesday, with strong wins for Bernie Sanders, a longtime independent senator who has positioned himself on the left of the Democratic party, and bombastic Republican outsider Donald Trump.
It comes after Sanders fought rival Hillary Clinton to a virtual stalemate in last week’s Iowa caucus . The former secretary of state and first lady, who is widely viewed as the establishment choice for the Democrats, took that state by just 0.3 percentage points.
Despite shock among commentators at the rise of a challenge from the left in American politics, Larry Sanders said that he was not surprised by his brother’s success with the voters.
“I knew that he would make a huge splash and the reason really is the issue that he’s tackling: the growth of inequality, the distribution of money from the bulk of the population to the very rich is true and when somebody says it they resonate to that,” Larry Sanders said.
Just as political commentators in Britain have warned that Corbyn’s rise has left Labour unelectable, there are fears in the US that a nomination win for Bernie Sanders would give the Republicans an open door to the White House. But Larry Sanders has faith in his brother’s chances.
“It will be a difficult campaign winning the nomination but against the Republicans it will not be very difficult because they have been part of a kind of conservatism of saying small state, do away with benefits, do away with all the things that help people get on in life,” he said.
“When you have someone as vigorous as Bernard saying look, that’s you, that’s your parents whose social pension you are talking about, they will be whipped.”
And Larry Sanders dismissed suggestions that his brother’s resounding victory in New Hampshire only came because of itits proximity to Vermont, which Bernie Sanders has represented as an independent senator since 2007 and before that as a congressman since 1991.
“The business about him being from a neighbouring state is just Hillary Clinton spin,” Larry Sanders said. Pointing out that Bernie Sanders had come from 40 points behind to take the state, he added: “He didn’t win it because he lives next door. He won it because the people of the state approved of what he was saying.”