What's up with these wacky British political parties?

I thought Monty Python and Blackadder were just making up stuff with the totally wacko political candidates, but then I saw this video today: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7476703.stm

Is there really a history of stuff like this, or was it inspired by the comedians? What else can you tell me about this?

What’s the name party for the “Born to be Bananas” guy?

Stuff like this has been happening for a while - the Monster Raving Loony Party has been going for a few decades, for example.

I’d have thought Screaming Lord Sutch was the origin of it all?

To get on a ballot you just need 10 signatures from voters within the constiuency you wish to stand and pay a deposit of £500 (returnable on recieving 5% of the vote).

As a result any loon with £500 burning a hole in their pocket can get on the ballot, and as a result stand on a stage with the other candidates whilst the returning officer announces the results on polling day.

And a by-election (an election in a single constituency that takes place between general elections) is particularly attractive to joke/fringe candidates, because they’re more likely to be seen on TV when there’s only one result announcement that day.

[ETA] And if memory serve it used to be the case that news reports were obliged, whether by law or some code of practice, to list all the candidates in by-elections. So you’d have some sober newsreader saying “… David Fnarr-Fnarr-Biscuit, of the Biscuit Liberation Front, …” etc. These days they can just say that a full list of candidates, visit their website or whatever.

If anything, it used to be even worse. The deposit used to be only £150, until inflation made standing for Parliament too attractive to crackpots. Also, every candidate gets a free mailshot to every house in the constituency; and companies started putting up candidates in order to use this mailshot as cheap advertising. £150 was cheap compared to paying the postage for their junk mail. Since this was clearly an abuse of the system, the deposit was increased to £500.

Indeed, I recall a particularly good piece of abuse of the system: many years ago, in the town of Thame near where I used to live, there was a company that sold Chesterfield sofas. During a Chesterfield by-election, in which there were dozens of crazy parties entering, the company started a policital party called the “Buy your Chesterfield sofa in Thame party”. They lost their deposit, but they got £££££s of free publicity.

Hmm… there are 646 constituencies, at £500 a shot, it might not be that bad a deal in a general election. For around £325K you get a mailshot to every house in the country and coverage on all the BBC election broadcasts. Also, you would probably attract quite a bit of attention from the media for doing it in the first place. You would also be entitled to a Party Political Broadcast at primetime on the BBC and Channel 4. Any flaws in the plan?

I think one of the other deterrences to the looney candidates is the requirements for registration of political parties, which now mean you need to be prepared in advance of the election being called rather than being able to call yourself anything. I think.

Finding 646 candidates, each with 10 willing nominees in a different constituency…

Surely that could be sorted by having an open casting call for the candidates and going round local pubs for the signatures (if anyone actually bothers to check the signatures).

So in order to get your cheap nationwide publicity, you’re going to need some…er…nationwide publicity? :wink:

Does this mean you can’t stand as an independent any more?

I’m actually surprised that this hasn’t been done in Australia yet- we simply don’t have a Monster Raving Loony Party or a McGillicuddy Serious Party like they do/did in the UK & NZ.

I thought about doing it for the last State election, as it only costs $200 and would look good on the CV (Contested the 2006 Queensland Election as an independent candidate on the Imperialism platform) but was thwarted by the fact they didn’t actually announce the election until it was too late for me to get the required signatures and then get all the paperwork into the Electoral Commission.

Still, it’s not long until the 2010 elections so we’ll see what happens. :wink:

No, not at all. It just helps stop people making up silly party names at the last minute.

Edit: there’s one current independent MP, for Blaenau Gwent, where the Labour imposition of an all-female shortlist in 2005 caused them to fall heavily out of favour.

Curses! :smiley:

In my hometown some years ago our local football hooligans fielded a candidate for a joke after a heavy session in the pub and I believe that he didn’t lose his deposit.

In one general election where the main political parties appeared to have cloned political policies i wanted to vote for the Raving Monster Loony Party as a protest vote but infortunately they hadn’t fielded a candidate in my constituency so I made do by voting for the Green Party which was nowhere near as satisfying.