A virtual high five for a fiver - how Norwich politicians are funding their election cause

Norwich MP's Simon Wright and Chloe Smith outside Castle Mall. Photo: Steve Adams

Norwich MP's Simon Wright and Chloe Smith outside Castle Mall. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

As the general election draws nearer, candidates are finding innovative ways of paying for their politics.

Labour Party PPC for Norwich South Clive Lewis. Photo: Mark Tillie

Labour Party PPC for Norwich South Clive Lewis. Photo: Mark Tillie - Credit: photograph by mark tillie

A virtual high five in return for a fiver – politicians are not just running campaigns to win hearts and minds, but they also have the begging bowl out.

Getting your leaflets out, trawling the streets, holding events and hiring help all costs money, and Westminster hopefuls are in the process of building their battle funds.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright is among a number of politicians to turn to crowdfunding for the first time – in return for 'perks'.

In an email to Norwich residents, the Liberal Democrat has urged people to help him raise £5,000, telling them his Labour opponents are 'pumping huge resources into our area to try to win the seat', claiming they are being 'funded by huge donations from unions', with while the 'Tories rely on large sums being given to them by millionaire donors'.


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But his Labour opponent Clive Lewis, while acknowledging that Unite, GMB and some other smaller unions are supporting him, along with local members and the proceeds of fundraisers, claims it is the 'cleanest money in politics'.

'That is donations from bin men, teachers, nurses, childcare workers who pay a political levy. It pales into insignificance compared to the big donations to the Tory party. People might turn around and say the unions expect... There are vested interests and vested interests. I'm happy to have a vested interest that is working people.'

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Norwich North MP Chloe Smith also has a web page for 'small donations'. As a key seat to hold for the Conservatives, she also gets support from the centre.

She said: 'Many Norwich people have already backed me and that's on top of all the people who are members of the Conservative Party in Norwich, so mine is a broad-based campaign with plenty of support. Norwich North is a vital seat in this election and polls show it's too close to call.

'Everyone knows that you can't run a campaign on fresh air. Naturally we work together as a national and local party to run a coordinated campaign.'

The Norwich Green Party has raised £3,010 from its crowdfunding in just over 30 days.

Norwich South candidate Lesley Grahame said her party relied on donations from individual members and supporters, and the success in raising funds from 62 people demonstrated this.

'Ultimately though, the most important element of a campaign is people power,' she said.

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