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Britain is Berning

by Jeff Powers, published

The name of the group couldn’t have been more appropriate considering the circumstances: “Momentum.”

Theresa May and her conservative wing were in control of the electorate. Ready to not only exercise their power, but to extend their Parliament gains, usher in Brexit, strengthen the Pound, and bring an end to the attacks that have shocked a nation.

But funny things can happen on the way up the tower.

And on Thursday they most certainly did.

Thanks in large part to the Berniecrats.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign team arrived in Britain about a month ago. Their mission: conduct training sessions for Labour activists. Teach them nuanced campaign techniques implemented during the 2016 Presidential campaign, and help the Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, turn the tide of the election.


These are not some Russians trying to infiltrate foreign elections, mind you. These are exceptional Americans fighting for the future of England. Seriously.

In an interview prior to the election, 30-year-old Erika Uyterhoeven from Boston, Massachusetts, summed up the team’s approach, saying "The right can throw money at elections – we throw people."

Corbyn’s "Army" grew exponentially. "Berniecrats" became "Corbyncrats." Town halls, once drab and quiet, became passionate Corbyn rallies. Corbyn’s Army canvassed in force. Call centers were established. This was a get out the vote effort the likes of which Britain has rarely seen.

Interestingly, Bernie’s big government message got a self-responsibility makeover. With young voters feeling a streak of anti-terror nationalism, Corbyn’s message of personal accountability became a rallying cry for activists otherwise engulfed in the ideology of democratic socialism.


Uyterhoeven had seen this before. She claims the Bernie slogan rings true here: "You can’t buy Bernie. He’s never been swayed by money or political influence, and Corbyn is the same," she said. "He’s not doing this for glory or his ego or money, he’s there for the people. That’s a new thing in politics, and I think that’s what has got so many people involved."

The broad-brush, megaphone campaign tactics used by the ultra-conservative Prime Minister were falling flat and stood in sharp contrast to the inclusive message of ultra-liberal Corbyn, who was going door-to-door for support.

But make no mistake - this wasn’t an easy path for the Berniecrats. Their modern day Darwin, Jeremy Corbyn, is considered the most left-wing leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party. He was supposed to flame out in Thursday’s general election. He was too radical, too unpolished, and too old-fashioned (sound familiar?).


On Thursday Corbyn made history, boosting Labour’s share of the vote from just over 30 percent two years ago to just over 40 percent. That represents the largest jump in vote share for any party since 1945’s landslide victory for legendary Labour leader Clement Attlee. Attlee, notably, introduced Britain’s free healthcare system.

For Bernie Sanders, it was a moment in the English sun. The Senator said, "I applaud Jeremy Corbyn. 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. So I applaud Corbyn for raising those issues."


On the heels of Corbyn’s impressive showing, he has asked PM Theresa May to resign her post. At least for now, that doesn’t appear to be happening. May, despite representing the Parliamentary minority, will try to fashion workable agreements for Brexit, shore up her thinning base, perhaps with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and stabilize a country’s security issues.

However, her party’s losses have so compromised her position on Brexit that Thursday may have served as the final blow to her Prime Ministership.

For Jeremy Corbyn, it’s fresh wind in his sails. He started the campaign with a deficit in the polls of around 20 points, with his chances written off by most experts, political commentators and the press. But thanks to Corbyncrats, he ended with more than 30 extra seats and a disrupted political system.

Perhaps Bernie’s "Our Revolution" is less 1776, and more 2020. In hindsight, the political earthquake he wanted to cause in Washington may have come up a bit short, but the aftershocks have reached the shores of Britain.

WATCH: Theresa May's Downing Street speech

Image Source: shutterstock.comTrevor Collens

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