Bernie Sanders’ brother campaigns in rural England

Brooklyn-born Larry Sanders, an academic who has lived in Britain since 1969, is the Greens' national spokesman on health affairs and has been the leader of the county council's Green group for the past eight years.

By: Reuters | Witney | Updated: October 19, 2016 12:39 pm
Larry Sanders, Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders larry sanders, US presidential elections, latest news, world news FILE – In this Feb. 15, 2016 file photo, Larry Sanders, the brother of former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, sits at home in his kitchen in Oxford, England. Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, that he doesn’t know “a heck of a lot” about British politics but that hasn’t stopped him from endorsing his brother Larry Sanders’ bid for a seat in Parliament. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Larry Sanders, elder brother of former US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie, was pressing the flesh in his own campaign on Tuesday as he took to the streets ahead of an election this week in rural Oxfordshire, central England.

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Sanders, 81, is standing as a candidate for the left-leaning Green Party in Witney, an affluent seat left vacant by the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron after June’s EU membership referendum. The vote on Thursday will be the first electoral test of his successor Theresa May’s Conservative government.

Brooklyn-born Larry Sanders, an academic who has lived in Britain since 1969, is the Greens’ national spokesman on health affairs and has been the leader of the county council’s Green group for the past eight years. He faces a daunting task – the Greens have only one seat in Britain’s 650-seat parliament and Cameron won over 60 percent of the vote in Witney at the last general election in 2015.

But he admits the Sanders name helps. “It opens the doors,” he told Reuters. “People think this guy exists, we know about him, he has some place in the world. Green Party candidates don’t always get that advantage.” The genteel campaigning in one of Britain’s wealthiest countryside areas is very different from that that his brother, a US Senator from Vermont, experienced.

“The Bernie experience is mass politics, meetings with 25, 30,000 people, all of whom know his policies because he had a year and a half to explain them,” he said. “Here it’s a few weeks and it’s very much retail politics, person by person.”

But the issues, he feels, are not so different. Many people, he said, are fed up with not having a decent place to live or a decent health service. “People are angry about that,” he added. Sanders spent 12 weeks on the US campaign trail with Bernie, and says his younger brother connected with millions of Americans. Bernie Sanders finally endorsed former rival Hillary Clinton for president after a hard-fought campaign that surprised many with his success. Larry says he will also reluctantly vote for Clinton on Nov. 8 to keep out her Republican rival Donald Trump.