A “powerful” progressive uprising against Donald Trump in the US is being mirrored among voters in the UK ahead of the general election, a senior member of the Bernie Sanders campaign team has said.
Claire Sandberg, who was digital organising director for the Democratic presidential nominee, told The Independent that a grassroots movement was taking place in the US to offer a different kind of politics and a meaningful alternative to Mr Trump.
A “similar wave” is beginning to take hold in the UK, she said.
Ms Sandberg, who is currently in the UK assisting the Progressive Alliance campaign group in its drive towards tactical voting and cross-party alliances, described the Sanders campaign as a movement that sent “shockwaves through the political establishment in the US”.
She said there was “appetite for a different type of politics” in both countries to resist against unfair systems.
Mr Sanders campaign “revealed that people are hungry for an alternative to a failed status quo, and that people are outraged with an economy that consolidates wealth in the hands of a small few, and makes life increasingly difficult and precarious for everyone else,” she said.
“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.
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“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.”
Ms Sandberg said progressive politics was “the only way” to prevent right-wing nationalist voices from gaining power.
The progressive movement was beginning to become a global phenomenon, with the world “working together” to prevent the rise of right-wing nationalists, she said.
“I think progressive politics is the only way out. Long-term, only progressive politics can actually defeat the rise of right-wing nationalists,” she added.
“We saw in the US that the mainstream Democratic Party was to say America is already great and that really fell flat with people who feel like the economy hasn’t been working for them. They do feel like the system is rigged and they feel increasingly left behind in a world that changes and is in many ways scary to them.”
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This was not just playing out in the US and UK, but around the world, she said, adding: “I think there is a recognition with the threat of Le Pen becoming the president of France, we all have to work together to prevent the rise of right-wing nationalists from getting into power.”
Over the next week, Ms Sandberg is helping Progressive Alliance organise half a dozen barnstorm events – an innovation from the Bernie campaign – focused in and around marginal constituencies across the UK.
It comes as progressive alliances have been agreed in 31 constituencies in the past few weeks. The Greens have stood down in 29 seats to give Labour or the Lib Dems a higher chance of winning, while the Lib Dems have stood down in two seats for the Greens.
Speaking at a packed London rally organised by the campaign group Progressive Alliance, Ms Sandberg said: “On the Bernie campaign, we realised we had to quickly get people place by place with no staff on the ground.
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“We knew we had to just jump in, get everyone together in a room and get them organised from just one event and we ended up calling this a barnstorm. Everyone leaves the barnstorm with a concrete plan for how they’re going to organise and knock on doors in their community.”
In the UK, she said that they had “trialled this in Brighton and Lewes, with more than half the attendees at each one committing to organising doorknocking sessions in their constituency and we’re now going to be barnstorming across the country.”
At the same event, Clive Lewis, who is also championing the Progressive Alliance, told the near 1,000 strong crowd: “I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone from any party who shares my values.
“To my friends and comrades in the Labour Party, I urge you to be true to our history – we must embrace a readiness to cooperate.
On the prospects for future collaboration between progressive forces, Mr Lewis added: “The future is not inevitable, the future is what we collectively make it. We have fought and overcome bigger obstacles in our history.
“But we are only strong when we stand together and offer a vision that says we stand for something bigger, something bolder, something better.
“When we acknowledge our collective potential to not just be less bad than our potential opponents but when we offer something materially different and better we know that we are on the right path.”