Wigan duo help Obama to victory

President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia wave toward the crowd at his election night party
President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia wave toward the crowd at his election night party

TWO Wigan men have spoken of their excitement in playing a part in the huge US Presidential elections.

The young Labour Party members jetted out to the States out of their own pockets to join the final week of the triumphant Democratic campaign to re-elect Barack Obama.

One even ended up meeting American civil rights and Democratic Party legend the Rev Jesse Jackson after a rally.

Both Darren Burgoyne, 25, and 19-year-old full time student Alex Cordery now hope that their experiences in what has been acknowledged as the best-organised election campaign in modern history can be put to good political use on this side of the Atlantic.

Mr Burgoyne, who lives in New Springs, a full time researcher for Bolton North East MP David Crausby, is also campaigns co-ordinator for Wigan Constituency Labour Party.

His invitation to become involved in the Obama/Biden hustings push came about because he is a member of Britain’s long-established Fabian Society.

He said: “The Fabians organised a trip in 2008 which just a handful of people went on.

“They all enjoyed it so much and this election was so much more important, they thought it would be a good chance to do it again so they asked for volunteers and I put myself forward.

“Our duties were mainly knocking on doors, meeting the voters and reminding them what they had to do on election day.”

Darren said that residents opening their doors to a North West of England accent reacted almost universally positively to the approach.

They stayed in a youth hostel in Washington DC, although they were actually campaigning in Virginia, and, specifically, in Alexandria.

He said: “They were clearly impressed that somebody would come half way around the world just to help with President Obama’s re-election campaign. It was hard work - knocking on doors first thing in the morning to when it went dark.

“We didn’t, sadly, get the chance to meet President Obama but there was a rally in an amphitheatre on the second day I was over there which featured him speaking, alongside Bill Clinton, which was very cool.

“There was about 35,000 people turned up for the event, which, when you are used to political meetings in England, is a bit of an eye opener.

There was only 25,000 seats so 10,000 people were stood up at the back on a field, which just shows the interest. It was a brilliant experience, lots of fun and, of course, we were really pleased that we won after all the work we put in!”

Political studies student Mr Cordery - who works as a volunteer at Shadow Health Minister Andy Burnham’s Leigh constituency office after starting there as a sixth former - found himself as part of a door-knocking operation in what was seen as one of the key swing states.

Analysts had stated that the Obama campaign had to clinch if he was to return to the White House, Ohio.

And, of course, he did.

He said: “My invite came because I volunteer in Andy Burnham’s office and an email had circulated around the Labour Party staff network inviting people to get in touch if they wanted to travel over to America to help out with the Obama campaign.

“I arrived the week before, on the Wednesday, so did six days campaigning on the run up to election day itself, which was very exciting.

“One of the highlights has to be meeting the Rev Jesse Jackson which happened at the official Ohio Democrat Party results celebration

“He was there with a lot of media following him around and I was lucky enough to be introduced to him as a volunteer from England.

“Campaigning involved knocking on residents door in Ohio as part of the Obama Get Out and Vote campaign because over there they have a system where you can vote early if you wish.

“We also got to help out at a rally attended by President Obama which involved crowd control and what have you.

“A lot of people were a bit stunned when they opened the door and found an English person on the step urging them to vote Obama but as far I my experience was concerned it went down well and I didn’t find any negativity at all.

“In fact people seemed to think it was quite impressive that people from the UK cared enough about their Presidential election to come along and do their bit.”