General Election will be battle of “life and death”, says Sanders

Brother of Bernie Sanders, former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, to stand in Oxford East, as Greens withdraw bid for Oxford West

Larry Sanders campaigning in Oxford. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Larry Sanders, brother of US Senator and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Bernie Sanders, has warned of a battle of “life and death” in the General Election, after the announcement that he will run as the Green Party candidate in Oxford East.

Oxford East, the constituency covering most of Oxford University’s colleges, has been held by Labour MP Andrew Smith since 1987. Smith recently announced that he will not be standing for re-election in June.

Sanders, a former councillor who has lived in Oxford for 47 years, said of the constituency: “Oxford East is one of the areas that understand[s] and hate[s] the growth of anti-minority politics, the rise of the Trumps, and the success of the Theresa Mays in making life harder for most of us.”

Speaking of his brother’s campaign for the presidency last year, Sanders said: “I am proud that my brother has become the most popular politician in America and a powerful opponent of Trump. A government has to work for all its people, not just the very rich. I have tried to do the same.

“We are in a battle that is literally life and death, and will not end with the election. “Britain is the most unequal country in Europe. Our politics has to change.”

The news that Sanders will run comes just days after the Green Party announced that they will not be putting up a candidate for election in Oxford West & Abingdon in June.

In 2015, the party received just under 2,500 votes. Cheryl Briggs, who had planned to stand as the Green candidate, said she would not do so in order “to put the greater good” before Green Party interests.

She also said Liberal Democrat Layla Moran offered “the best chance of beating the Conservatives”. Oxford West & Abingdon is a Conservative-held seat, having been taken from the Liberal Democrats in 2010 with a majority of 176 votes.

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This was increased to 9,000 votes in 2015. The seat is estimated to have voted over 60% in favour of Remain in the European Union referendum and voted majoritively for the Liberal Democrats in the recent local elections.

Matthew Hull, President of Oxford Green Students, told Cherwell: “Local Greens decided that the constituency’s best interests were served by endorsing Layla Moran. Importantly, Layla herself promised to support policies crucial to the Green ethos: supporting electoral reform, opposing fracking, and opposing further privatisation of public services. I wholeheartedly support her candidacy in Oxford West & Abingdon.”

Joe Crossley, Senior Co-chair of Oxford University Liberal Democrats, told Cherwell: “Only Lib Dem candidate Layla Moran can beat the Tories in Oxford West, and, with so many people voting tactically to stop a Tory hard Brexit, the Greens’ decision to step down is very welcome.”

The Liberal Democrat candidate for the seat, who also stood in 2015, said: “I welcome the decision the local Green Party has taken to not stand a candidate in this election. We must put a stop to the Conservatives’ damaging hard Brexit and regressive cuts […] and I am more convinced than ever that with an alliance of voters from across the political spectrum, from the Greens to Labour and the moderate Conservatives, we can and will send a powerful message to Theresa May on June 8th and win this seat back.”