UK Politics

Al Murray and other celebrities who have decided to run for parliament

Al Murray

Comedian Al Murray plans to take on Nigel Farage at the general election in his character of the Pub Landlord.

Mr Murray will stand for the Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP) pledging that the UK will leave the solar system by 2025 and that Greece will be sold to Kent County Council.

The TV star is joining a list of famous figures who've decided to throw their hats into the ring as parliamentary candidates.

Here are some of the more memorable ones - including some no-hopers and some notable successes.

Willie Rushton

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Image caption Willie Rushton challenged Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963 under the slogan "Death to the Tories"

"Death to the Tories" was actor, cartoonist and satirist Willie Rushton's campaign slogan when he ran against Conservative Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963.

Rushton, who died in 1996, was angry at the machinations in which the patrician Douglas-Home, a hereditary peer, became PM despite not being an MP and had to stand in a by-election to win a Commons seat.

Rushton, who contested the Kinross and West Perthshire seat on behalf of Private Eye magazine, polled just 45 votes, having urged voters to support the Liberal candidate at the last minute.

Douglas-Home won.

Auberon Waugh

Image caption Auberon Waugh: who stood up for dog lovers at the 1979 election

Journalist Auberon Waugh ran for the "Dog Lovers' Party" in 1979, challenging the former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe in his North Devon constituency.

Why was Waugh standing up for dog lovers? He was of course referring to Rinka - the dog shot on Exmoor in the scandal involving Thorpe, his alleged homosexual lover Norman Scott and a hitman. Waugh had helped expose the scandal.

Waugh lost his deposit but had the gratification of seeing Thorpe lose his seat.

Katie Price

Image caption "I know it will take a big swing but there's no bigger swinger than me" said Katie Price in 2001

Surgically enhanced former glamour model Katie Price - aka Jordan - pledged free plastic surgery for all, more nudist beaches and a ban on parking tickets in her campaign as an Independent candidate in the Manchester seat of Stretford and Urmston in 2001.

Despite promising "a bigger, betta (sic) future" Ms Price won just 713 votes, losing her deposit.

Howard Marks

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Image caption Howard Marks failed to win over voters in four constituencies in the 1997 general election

Author and former drug smuggler Howard Marks appeared on ballot papers four times in the 1997 general election: Norwich South, Norwich North, Neath and Southampton Test.

He was unsuccessful in all four seats.

No prizes for guessing the single issue in his campaign - the legalisation of cannabis.

Esther Rantzen

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Image caption The TV presenter and charity campaigner on the trail in Luton South

"If the voters think it's worthwhile and they want me, here I am," said Esther Rantzen as she launched her campaign as an Independent candidate in the 2010 general election.

Mrs Rantzen, who was made a Dame in the New Year Honours for her charity work, stood on an anti-fraud ticket after the former Labour MP for Luton South, Margaret Moran, was embroiled in the parliamentary expenses scandal.

The voters didn't choose Mrs Rantzen, who came fourth with 1,872 votes, narrowly losing her deposit.

David Icke

Image caption David Icke joined 25 other candidates in the 2008 Haltemprice and Howden by-election

Former footballer and sports presenter David Icke was one of the 26 hopefuls contesting the Yorkshire seat of Haltemprice and Howden in 2008, after the surprise decision of Tory MP David Davis to resign and trigger a by-election focused on civil liberties.

Mr Icke, an author of books on New Age spiritualism and conspiracy theories, appeared on the ballot paper with no label after refusing to declare a party affiliation or even to sign up as an Independent.

His prediction that he didn't have "any chance of winning" was proved right. He won 110 votes - and David Davis was returned to parliament.

Garry Bushell

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Image caption Mr Bushell told reporters he "didn't have a hope in hell of winning"

Straight-talking newspaper columnist Garry Bushell contested two parliamentary seats in 2005 on behalf of the English Democrats Party, which promotes the establishment of an English Parliament.

Bushell won 1,216 votes (a 3.4% share) in the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency, beating the UK Independence Party, but losing out to Labour's Nick Raynsford.

The successes

Glenda Jackson

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Image caption Glenda Jackson gained a reputation as an outspoken left-winger and Blair critic

The Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate is so well known for her political career, some may have forgotten what went before.

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Image caption Glenda Jackson in 1971 with her Best Actress Oscar for Women in Love

Prior to entering parliament in 1992, Ms Jackson enjoyed nearly 40 years as a stage and screen actress, winning two Oscars and many other awards in films including Cleopatra and Women in Love.

The 79-year-old firebrand, who became a prominent critic of Tony Blair, is retiring from the Commons this year.

Sir Menzies Campbell

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Image caption Olympian Menzies Campbell with long jumper Mary Bignal Rand in 1964

Now known for his gravitas, the former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell was once extremely light on his feet.

A former sprinter, and British 100m record holder, he ran for the GB team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, becoming captain of the UK Athletics Team in 1965.

He became a leading barrister when he retired from competing, entering parliament in 1987, where he has served ever since, though he is standing down at this year's general election.

Sebastian Coe

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Image caption Sebastian Coe in the 1,500m heats at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

Another high-profile athlete turned politician is Sebastian Coe, a former middle-distance runner who won two Olympic gold medals and set three world records in the space of 41 days.

A Tory MP from 1992 to 1997, he became a peer in 2000 and ran London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

Gyles Brandreth

Image caption Polymath Gyles Brandreth represented Chester for the Conservatives

Broadcaster, panellist, diarist, comedian, scrabble player and collector of jumpers, Gyles Brandreth was also between 1992 and 1997 the Conservative MP for Chester.

"I joined the chamber of the House of Commons because I like the sound of my own voice," he once reportedly said.

While an MP he was responsible for the legislation which led to marriages ceremonies being allowed in premises other than churches or register offices.

He claims as an ancestor Jeremiah Brandreth - the last man in England to be beheaded for treason.

Martin Bell

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Image caption Former war reporter and Independent MP Martin Bell in his trademark white suit

In 1997, former BBC foreign correspondent Martin Bell stood on an anti-sleaze ticket against Neil Hamilton who, as Tory MP for Tatton, had become embroiled in the "cash-for-questions" scandal.

Mr Bell memorably confronted Mr Hamilton during the campaign in the so-called "Battle of Knutsford Heath".

Bell was elected with a majority of 11,077 votes - overturning a Conservative majority of over 22,000, becoming the first successful independent parliamentary candidate since 1951.

Since standing down from parliament in 2001 he has made several unsuccessful bids to re-enter politics.

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