UK Politics

Happy Mondays' Bez 'will talk to parties' if elected MP

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Media captionBez says he plans to contest the Salford and Eccles seat

Former Happy Mondays dancer Bez has offered to talk to party leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg if he is elected to Parliament.

The anti-fracking campaigner is looking to win as an independent in Salford and Eccles, currently held by Labour.

He told the BBC: "It's my duty to get into people's minds and make them realise what they are doing."

Bez, famed for his percussive dancing, promised to continue to "shake my maracas against fracking" as an MP.

The performer, whose real name is Mark Berry, has already won a public vote, being named winner of Celebrity Big Brother in 2005.

The Happy Mondays, who came to prominence in the late 1980s, have had several hits including Step On and Kinky Afro. They reformed in 2012.


Speaking on BBC One's Sunday Politics, Bez, who is focusing instead on environmental campaigning, described fracking - the extraction of shale gas - as "dangerous" and damaging to the environment "all in the name of profit".

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Image caption Party people: Could Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron be holding talks with Bez?

Salford and Eccles, in Greater Manchester, is a Labour stronghold. The current MP, former Labour Party chairman Hazel Blears, is standing down at the 2015 general election.

About 60 protesters have been camping at the site in Barton Moss Road, Salford, where exploratory drilling for shale gas is taking place, since November last year.

Asked about his aims, Bez said: "With a bit of luck, I might be able to shame Labour politicians to do the job properly and stick up for the rights of the people."

If elected, Bez promised a sensible use of parliamentary allowances, saying: "There would be expenses, like buses and trains. I would not live in a cocoon."

Although he plans to sit as an independent, Bez did not rule out talks with the main party leaders.

'Strongest controls'

Asked whether he would prefer a night out with Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband or Mr Clegg, he said:" I would be willing to discuss things with anyone. It's my duty as a conscious worker to try to make change.

"It's my duty to get into people's minds and make them realise what they are doing."

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England.

But the process to extract it - called fracking, which is short for "hydraulic fracturing" - has led to protests, with environmentalists fearing the technique could cause small earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage.

Fracking involves drilling deep underground and releasing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release gas stored inside.

Prime Minister David Cameron has argued that the UK has the "strongest environmental controls" and has pledged: "Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers."

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