From Elmo to a man with a bin on his head, these are the UK election’s most eccentric candidates

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul4,2024
For each general election the United Kingdom holds, there are a handful of novelty candidates who often succeed in blurring the lines between politics and satire.
Among the more than 4,500 candidates standing for parliament on Thursday are those from fringe parties, single-issue campaigners, and, in a peculiarly British tradition, those who are simply making fun of the whole thing.
The crop of eccentrics running for government in includes an AI chatbot, a London pub, and an intergalactic space lord.

The tradition took off in the 1980s, when the Official Monster Raving Loony Party — with the motto “Vote for Insanity” — registered as a political party and fielded two candidates.

All a candidate needs to stand to become a member of parliament is a £500 ($950) deposit and 10 supporting signatures.
“There’s aspects of this that have to do with the UK sense of humour and our traditions of satire and mockery,” Andrew Blick, a politics professor at King’s College London, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
But he said politics may have become “in some senses more ridiculous” in recent years, making it “ripe for satire”.
“I think they do have some value: they attract attention to the system. Some of the issues they raise, though they do it in a humorous way, are serious issues,” he added.

Sometimes, the joke works: the furry mascot of Hartlepool football club, H’Angus the Monkey, actually won the town’s 2002 mayoral contest. Pubs being permitted to open all day — now a reality — was once merely a Loony policy.

Count Binface

Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson stands next to a person in a grey costume that includes a bin on their head with slits for their eyes and mouth

Former prime minister Boris Johnson ran against Count Binface in the 2019 election. Source: AAP / Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Count Binface, the “intergalactic space warrior”, is running against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in headgear shaped like a rubbish bin.

His pledges include building at least “one affordable home” and national service for all former prime ministers.

He has also proposed nationalising the singer Adele.

Binface — the alter-ego of comedian Jon Harvey — ran against former prime minister Boris Johnson in the 2019 general election. He also ran in London’s mayoral race this year, in which he beat the far-right Britain First party by 4,000 votes.
“In the UK, anybody, literally anybody, is free to stand in an election, no matter how idiotic the get-up,” he told AFP.

He added that the British political system “fosters the eccentricity, the wonderment and the humour of politics”.


A man dressed in an Elmo suits stands outside a polling station as a police officer looks on

Elmo has stood in multiple UK elections. Source: AAP / Stefan Rousseau/PA/Alamy

Among the candidates competing against Labour leader Keir Starmer for his seat is a man who dresses as Elmo.

Like Count Binface, Elmo has stood in numerous elections.

But Bobby Smith, the man in the furry red outfit, is seeking to make an earnest political point and wants to change the law on fathers’ rights.

The Mitre pub

A corner pub, painted beige and white

The Mitre, a pub in southwest London, has been registered as a political party. Source: Facebook / The Mitre TW9

A “good old fashioned” pub in Richmond in south London has been registered as a political party as part of a marketing stunt by its owner, Chris French, who is its only candidate.

“Just about the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” French said of the process of registering the Mitre as a party.

“I just typed ‘how to register as a political party’ into Google.”

With his pub slowly recovering after the COVID-19 pandemic and feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis, French looked to the democratic process for its untapped marketing potential rather than its ability to affect policy change.
For £500 ($950) — a snip compared to the price of online marketing — he could have his pub name and address “advertised” on the ballot paper seen by the 77,000 people over the age of 18 in his local area.

His only aim? “I’d like to not come last. But if I do beat any political parties — I’m a pub without a manifesto — they should probably quit politics,” he added.

AI Steve

An AI-created image of a man with grey hair, wearing a blue suit jacket and white shirt

AI Steve’s policies are created and approved by locals. Credit: AI Steve

AI Steve claims to be the country’s first artificial intelligence candidate and will appear on the ballot in Brighton Pavilion in southeast England as an independent.

The physical face of the campaign is its creator Steve Endacott, with the AI platform promising to be an MP you can talk to “anytime, anywhere”.

Its policies, which are created and approved by locals, according to its website, include expanding prison capacity and improving cycling in the area.

On issues such as immigration and climate, AI Steve is generally left-leaning, including supporting “practical” climate policy, LGBTIQ+ causes and “inviting those we need to support the economy”.
AI Steve told AFP it was running “to make a difference” and one of its strengths was that it would not be “swayed by emotions or special interests”.

But it then glitched as it tried to explain the advantages of technology.

The rest

The veterans of the UK comedy candidate genre, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, are fielding 22 candidates this year, including leader Howling ‘Laud’ Hope, Baron Von Thunderclap, and Earl Elvis of East Anglia.

The Psychedelic Movement Party candidate in Southend is standing on pledges to ignore the law and open 24-hour cannabis cafés.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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