THE BLOG

Feel the Bern

05/02/2016 14:29 GMT | Updated 05/02/2017 10:12 GMT

When Jeremy Corbyn stormed the Labour leadership election, gaining the biggest mandate of any Labour leader in history, the left in Britain were beginning to relish the idea of a (semi) socialist government harking back to Old Labour, challenging the Tories at every stage. Yes, we had Big Ed, labelled "too left wing" by former PM Tony Blair , but in reality, no opposition leader had strayed beyond centre left for a good while. A good old right against left in Britain was emerging, a rare calling in centrist based modern politics.

At the same time Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders , a self described democratic socialist, was in the midst of his unlikely race to the White House. Trailing massively behind Establishment candidate Hillary Clinton, he remained true to his leftist principles. He appeared as equally impressed and surprised at Corbyn's election as the British left, commenting "At a time of mass income and wealth inequality throughout the world, I am delighted to see that the British Labour Party has elected Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader,". Strange as it was, there and then appeared a resurgence (or perhaps last stand, for the pessimistic) of the left. Two old, white men who had fought for many causes throughout their life, whether it be civil rights or anti-war, threatened the status quo of the Establishment which is ever shifting right.

Iowa's causus on the first of the month reflected exactly how far Bernie has come. While Clinton has slipped over 10% since February 2015, Bernie's numbers have risen from a paltry 4.1% to his caucus performance, at 49.6%. We are constantly told 'Britain/America doesn't want a socialist leader' yet the polls speak differently. Bernie's stance of taking on wall street, enabling free college tuition and taxing corporations is identifying with the American middle class, who are being squeezed from the top. Let's remember, Sanders, with the raw numbers he attained, could have declared a victory in Iowa, but six coin tosses all won by Clinton means that she may have a slender lead of 23-21 in terms of representatives delegates for the Primary.

Both Sanders (and Corbyn) of course, have had to compete with a media onslaught, with constant jibes from the increasingly right wing US media. Gandhi's proverb rings fantastically well here:

'First they ignore you

then they laugh at you

then they fight you

then you win'

Sanders in particular was seen as a joke candidate until a few months ago, but the strength of his grassroots movement, which has blown away Hilary's corporate donors, was unprecendented. One can point to the equal success of Donald Trump on the far right; people are tired of Establishment politics, and people such as Bernie provide such change. While the MSM have given Trump, Clinton and the right-of-centre significant coverage, Bernie has been largely ignored or vilified as a communist. The statistic about Bernie's popularity with young people (and Hilary's with the seniors) , in which 91% of people under 30 pledged their support for the candidate (compared to 8% for the 'hip' Clinton) could simply be down to the tendency of young people to find their news sources on the internet, a wider, more neutral source, rather than older viewers who conventionally allow Rupert Murdoch to dictate to them.

Sanders 0.3% deficit in Iowa should not be seen as a loss - rather, for a man who was seen as unelectable in his early months of his campaign, a tie should be viewed as a victory for the underdog. No one ever thought Sanders would get this far, and there are 49 more chances for Bernie to eek out a victory in what should be an extremely close Primary. How the Establishment would sweat at the thought of a Bernie-Jeremy partnership.