Grassroots campaigners voted with their pockets to give the Green Party a boost in Streatham where a crowd-funding campaign reached its target in less than 24 hours.
The campaign to pay for a Green party leaflet drop across Streatham for parliamentary candidate Jonathan Bartley made £1,000 in its first day and the total is still rising, reflecting the surge in popularity of the Greens.
“I’m thrilled, it’s exceeded expectations, particularly as the Greens were excluded from the leaders’ debate. We had to use creative ways to get our message out there,” Jonathan Bartley told SW Londoner.
The battle is on for the Streatham seat as Mr Bartley takes on incumbent MP and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, although he’s quietly confident about his chances.
“The British public likes an underdog, being excluded from the leaders’ debate made people look again at the green party,” he said.
He said the further fund-raising efforts of the generous donors will be used for a further leaflet campaign in the run up to May’s general election.
The Green Party has seen massive growth in the last few months, currently standing at more than 35,000 members, up from 12,768 at the last election and taking over populist UKIP.
Streatham’s colours may be fading from red to green as in both the European and local elections last May, the Green party came second across the area.
“It’s a game changer,” said Mr Bartley in reference to the public support, “I’m realistic about my chances but no one can predict what will happen.”
He expected to face a usual tactic of ‘squeeze messages’ where dominant parties discourage people from so-called ‘protest’ votes because they undermine support.
This ploy has however been missing from the campaign for Streatham so far, Mr Bartley stressed that his party was a now a safe vote with a clear shot at the constituency seat.
Blind polling at the 2010 elections, where people were quizzed on policies they supported rather than parties, showed a majority agreed with a Green vision for the country.
In Streatham Mr Bartley was keen to outline his own agenda, his priorities are to increase social housing to conserve communities, especially the under-threat Cressington Garden estate.
He also vowed to implement the living wage for all staff employed by contractors, focus on transport after the abortive plans to extend the tube to Streatham and to work with clean air London to improve air quality.
On his opponent, sitting MP Chuka Umunna, who was recently backed by Tony Blair as a future Labour Leader, Mr Bartley was unconcerned.
“I have nothing against him personally, but I don’t think people like what he stands for.
“He’s indistinguishable from a left wing conservative, he’s nowhere near the left of his party. He’s Tory-lite.”
Featured image courtesy of Channel 4 News, via YouTube, with thanks