Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley didn’t get off lightly when he visited a school assembly to talk about air pollution.
The former Streatham Parliamentary hopeful held an assembly at Dunraven School in his home constituency on Wednesday, to set out his party’s plans to tackle the UK’s filthy air.
The school is one of the 90 in London most affected by poor air quality and the Greens have accused the government of ‘not caring’ about the problem, which is linked to 40,000 deaths a year.
Bartley talked to pupils about his desire to change politics for the better, but was hit with a tricky question from sixth former Tom, who asked why, if their message was ‘so important’, the Greens had withdrawn their candidacy in Ealing Central and Acton to support Labour’s Rupa Huq.
Bartley said: “Very difficult decisions sometimes have to be taken, beyond party politics.”
Huq has a majority of just 274, but in 2015 no party in the constituency got more than 7% of the vote and her seat is one of Labour’s most at-risk.
Speaking to Huff Post UK afterwards, Bartley said the questions directed at him highlighted the importance of forming a progressive alliance ahead of June 8.
“That was a spontaneous question from the children in that hall about electoral alliances, and that shows how big a thing this is becoming,” he added.
“A year ago no-one was talking about it, now everyone is talking about it. They recognise the stakes are so high - in the context of Brexit, this election is not just about the next five years, but the next 50 years.
“Under an unfair electoral system, the only way to stop a Conservative majority is for Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens and other parties to work together where there is common ground. It’s common sense, they [the children] get it. Why wouldn’t you do it?”
Labour has said it is ‘fighting to win this election and will field candidates in every seat’, with the exception of Speaker John Bercow’s Buckingham constituency, in line with parliamentary protocol.