Bernie Sanders Says Corbyn's Labour Party Made Gains in U.K. Because They 'Stood Up to Ruling Class'

The Vermont Senator told a Chicago audience over the weekend that progressives elsewhere need to follow suit and ramp up efforts to remake the Democratic Party

Bernie Sanders speaking in Chicago on June 10, 2017.
Jim Young/AFP

Buoyed by the British Labour Party election gains this week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday urged a summit in Chicago of progressive activists who propelled his presidential candidacy to ramp up efforts to win elections and help remake a Democratic Party he deemed a failure.

"They won those seats by standing up to the ruling class," he said, referring to the showing in the British elections by Labour, a party headed by Jeremy Corbyn. Sanders also cited wins by progressive U.S. candidates in several state and local races while writing off losses as evidence that liberal progressives could still be competitive even in conservative states. Sanders was speaking at a gathering styled as "The People's Summit."

Theresa May, the British prime minister and head of the Conservative party, announced a new cabinet on Sunday despite failing to win a majority in Thursday's parliamentary election, when her party won 318 House of Commons seats. Corbyn's Labour Party won 262.

Corbyn said he could still be prime minister, although his party has no obvious way to build a majority coalition. He said a new election might be necessary later this year or early in 2018.

Corbyn ran an increasingly effective campaign, energizing the party’s base and nearly closing the once-wide margin between Labour and the Conservative Party, but he remained a divisive figure for many around the country during the election campaign. That was doubly true for Jewish voters who believed there has been a rise in cases of anti-Semitic statements by party members since Corbyn's election as leader nearly two years ago.

They had a very poor view of his past policies on Israel, particularly his embracing of Holocaust deniers and members of terrorist organizations including Hamas and Hezbollah, whom he called “our friends.”

With reporting by Haaretz.