Organizers who worked on the Sanders campaign have mobilized to help counterparts in the UK organize and canvass for the snap elections called by Theresa May (the conservative PM) for June 8th. In the process, they’ve brought a new generation of tools to UK elections, including peer-to-peer texting and distributed phone-banking. At the same time, there’s a renewed push for door-to-door-canvassing, GotV operations via training sessions and helping volunteers from safe constituencies travel to marginal constituencies.
Momentum alone has nearly 24,000 members and 200,000 supporters. Were all of them to get out and canvass voters, Labour could win the election, the group maintains.
Uyterhoeven agrees. Corbyn’s campaign, like Sanders’s, is a people-powered one, she said, and there is a lot more interest than the traditional system can handle.
“Every training we’ve held, over 100 people have showed up. When we launched the carpool website [trialled in the Stoke byelection], we had 20,000 unique visitors within 18 hours. Imagine trying to talk to all these people without the tools in place.”
In the UK, voters can register online and most do:
A last minute surge in people registering to vote has seen a quarter of a million young people under 25 years old sign up on the last possible day before the general election. — The Independent
That’s almost double the number of under-25s who registered on the last day prior to the Brexit referendum or the last general election. As in the US, younger voters tend to skew towards Labour, while older voters are more aligned with the conservatives.
Labour has enjoyed a surge in the polls, closing much of its deficit with May’s Conservative Party. Current polling suggest the Tories still enjoy a lead between 6% or 12 points. The national polling doesn’t translate into an precise margin in parliament since MPs are elected from discrete constituencies. Yet, the Tories should be worried, as Martin Boon who heads ICM Unlimited (a pollster) said:
“Nerves are now certainly jangling in Conservative Central Office, with a YouGov poll last weekend showing a drop to only a 5-point lead, before easing to a 7-point lead yesterday. Survation, with a phone poll this morning split the difference with a 6-pointer for GMTV.
This, from an ICM 22-point Conservative lead just three weeks’ ago.”
Among other parallels with the US election is Corbyn’s promise that Labour would raise the minimum wage to 10 GBP an hour, instituting a living wage. The current minimum for those under 25 is 7.50. Some of the discussion will seem alien to Americans, including a discussion on whether or not more police officers should be armed. Less than 10% of London’s police force carries firearms, opting to police “by consent” rather than force.
More on the Corbyn/May “debate” below:
Theresa May has refused to debate Corbyn head to head thus far. However, she did agree to a back to back interview with Jeremy Paxman at the BBC. Prior to the interviews, each faced questions from a live studio audience.
The Guardian live-blogged the event and provided this synopsis:
By now it is clear that this “debate” (like most TV election events of this kind) won’t really have changed very much in the campaign. Generally it is being seen as a bit of a draw. (See 10.43pm.) And it probably did not even contain a memorable moment that people will be talking about for months or years to come because it was particularly revealing. If there has been one so far this election, it may be Theresa May’s “nothing has changed” press conference near-meltdown (although, if May does win a decent majority, that may well be forgotten by the end of the summer).
Yet the May v Corbyn showdown did illustrate how the campaign is evolving. At the start of the campaign, some of Jeremy Corbyn’s critics thought he would be so awful that the Labour campaign would collapse. Well, they have been comprehensively proved wrong, and this evening he looked relaxed and confident. His actions and pronouncements from the 1980s continue to haunt him, but, as the BBC’s Nick Robinson suggests (see 10.43pm), it is better to have the toughest questions relating to what you said in the past than what you are saying now. […]
And May seems to have changed a bit, too. When she called the election, her campaign seemed to revolve entirely around offering “strong and stable” leadership. The social care U-turn has torn the legs off that strategy, and tonight she barely, if at all, used the phrase. She also chose not to deploy some of the implausible lines about Corbyn she has used previously (like the false claim that he would raise income tax to 25p in the pound). Instead, we got a more humble and grounded PM, who sounded evasive on social care and winter fuel payments, but robust on Brexit, which many people will like.
Columnists from ITV and the Financial Times also chimed in:
Corbyn was asked about his personal political positions, many of which did not make it into the Labour party’s election manifesto. This included his opposition to nuclear weapons and opposition to the British monarchy. Among other notable moments, Corbyn would not say whether he would order a drone strike against a terrorist organizing an attack on the UK. He said it was a completely hypothetical question and he would not answer it without knowing the specific facts. He was asked about his engagement with the IRA in the 80s.
May was grilled about her social policies and funding levels for the NHS, some of this came from the audience and many audience members weren’t satisfied with her responses, laughing at her answers on occasion. Paxman had very pointed questions on several of May’s policy reversals, including the decision to call an early election after several statements saying she wouldn’t.
The Brexit vote was discussed at various points, with both May and Corbyn saying they will honor the results of the referendum.
The smaller and regional parties (LibDems, SNP, Greens and UKIP) were left out of the joint TV interview.