The Green Party unveiled Monday its long-delayed billboard election poster in sunny Brighton, the only seat it won in the 2010 election.
Unfortunately, the event itself was every bit as ramshackle as the party’s campaign has been over recent months.
The day began with a search through the streets of Brighton to actually locate the poster in question. An email invitation to the launch had listed a street in the centre of town, but upon arrival this lorry was all I could see:
Its location was finally revealed after I spotted a small gathering of cameramen down an alleyway. Their modest numbers were perhaps unsurprising. After all, the launch (which has already been delayed twice) was rescheduled for a day when the vast majority of the nation’s political press corps is attending Labour party’s election manifesto launch in Manchester:
Here is the billboard poster in all its glory:
Not long after, we were joined by a number of Green party activists. One told me that she had only joined the Greens in February having become “frustrated” with the other parities and, in particular, the “damage that [government spending] cuts have inflicted on local services”:
And a few minutes after the promised 10 a.m. start, Green party leader Natalie Bennett and local MP Caroline Lucas arrived:
However, the attempt at a photo shoot was interrupted when it became apparent that the road the event was being held on had not been closed for the purpose:
And as Bennett spoke of how her party would be “building on the Green surge” in this election, the street rang with the horns of angry commuters eager to make their way to office:
Finally, the gathered press decided to take advantage of their captive audience and began interviewing the drivers. (This motorist was not planning to vote Green):
Though not exactly a disaster, Lucas managed to shrug off the distractions and give a confident, measured speech on why the Green party offered an alternative vision to the Westminster clique — the problems with the billboard launch speak to the party’s self-inflicted problems during this campaign.
Whether from Natalie Bennett’s now infamous “mind blank” interview to big issues with some of their core policies, the Greens are struggling to get their message across. And it looks like it could be hurting them in the polls.
Having moved from around 2-3% of the national vote as recently as 2013, the Greens had shifted up to a high of between 7-8% earlier this year with the anti-austerity message clearly appealing to a portion of the electorate. Recent polls, however, suggest that surge may be fading (and quickly) as we get closer to the General election.
With the vote now only 23 days away, if the Greens are going to hang onto their gains they may find that silence is golden.
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