Bernie Sanders apologises for his own generation to a crowd at O2 Academy Brixton
During his two-hour speech Sanders raised the issues of the past, present and future to his sold-out audience of students
Following the release of his book "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In", previous US presidential candidate and current senator Bernie Sanders embarked on a tour around the UK with the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, in hopes of sharing his "vision of the future" with an audience that goes beyond his own country.
Sanders and his campaign's focus on young people was not only reflected in his speech, (he frequently apologised for the actions of his generation and Americans who elected President Trump) but the event at O2 Academy Brixton clearly targeted a younger audience, selling out half-priced tickets available only to young people with student IDs.
Peter Florence, the Hay Festival director, justified this emphasis on the younger generation, as he said: "What we hope from Bernie is that he'll galvanise young people like he did in America. The way he's working to interrogate every stupid bill in the Senate is heroic and essential."
The event, presented by Labour MP David Lammy, did not only see Sanders criticising the actions of current US President Donald Trump, especially his recent withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, but it also saw Sanders compare last year's US presidential election with the upcoming UK general election on the 8th of June.
Although Sanders claimed that he "did not know much about the economy over here", he established many parallels between the state of the economy of both countries, especially in terms of corporation and their use of tax havens for evasion. His plead to "end those tax havens" was one of the main points of his speech, as he said the greed of these companies and billionaire families all over the world is "an addiction" and "a sickness", and we should not allow them to "run the world".
Sanders views on corporation tax and tax havens reflect those of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as both wish to raise corporation taxes in order to use that money for public budgets – such as each country's respective health systems and education funds – and want to ban the use of tax havens once and for all.
Corbyn himself seemed to endorse Sanders' policies, as he sent Lammy a 'text' during the question and answer segment of the talk, in which he apologised to Sanders for not being able to attend his event, pleading him to come back to London after Thursday once Corbyn began to 'form a new government'.
One of the most significant questions asked by the audience was regarding the current increase in hate crimes in the UK and the US as well, which Sanders blamed on "demagogue" leaders like Trump who, according to Sanders, instigate this hatred towards immigrants as they tell the public:
"Do you know why you're earning wages that are too low? It's because of that muslim woman over there manipulating the system […] or it's that Mexican worker over there making eight dollars an hour picking strawberries."
Sanders received a standing ovation from the young audience at the Brixton O2, as they chanted his name until he left the stage.
The Hay Festival have published one of Sanders' talks in full on their Youtube channel, which can be found here.
'Feel the bern.'