Vote, vote, vote for Lord Biro and co
YOU might have heard of Lord Biro already.
For the uninitiated, Lord Biro is an artist, poet and a regular ballot box botherer at city council elections with his party The Church of the Militant Elvis Party.
And yesterday, he took his seventh step into national politics, this time standing in the Corby by-election which was triggered by the resignation of Louise Mensch.
Standing on a manifesto which included ideas equal parts sublime – bring back the dog licence to curb irresponsible dog owners – and ridiculous – Pudsey the dancing dog should be given a honorary title "The Duke of Wellingborough" – Lord Biro is a pretty refreshing change from the run-of-the-mill politico.
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At least, that's how I see it.
So-called joke candidates seem to be met with howls of derision from some quarters with accusations flung round that having Lord Biro and others of his ilk on the ballot paper somehow undermines the democratic process.
To which I would say: lighten up.
Since 1985, candidates have to stump up £500 each time they want to stand for election with the idea they will get the money back if they secure more than five per cent of the vote.
The bookies suggest Lord Biro may well not see his £500 again from Corby, so standing for election is clearly not exactly the cheapest way to get your laughs.
But it's not just the jokers that lose their deposits.
The major party that saw the most lost deposits in 2010 was the UK Independence Party, who lost an eye-watering £228,000.
On the other extreme, the only party not to lose a penny in deposits was the Liberal Democrats.
And another one to bore your friends with down the pub is that the Green Party (£164,000) lost more deposits than the BNP (£132,000).
If the deposit system was introduced to dissuade joke candidates, it clearly isn't working and actually appears to be punishing the political heavyweights too.
A report into these kind of things published in 2002 probably sums things up more succinctly than I ever could.
It said: "In principle the commission believes that politics (and therefore candidacy) should be open to any citizen who wishes to promote a specific policy or a wider political platform."
Be it wanting to legalising cannabis, bringing back the death penalty, or pledging to protect wildlife and campaigning in an Elvis costume, anyone should be able to give campaigning a go, regardless of financial means and beliefs.
And, in any case, it should be up to the electorate to decide if candidates should be taken seriously or not.
Lord Biro may well be seen as fighting an unwinnable battle in Corby, but so surely are the Tories when they stand in Labour safe seat Liverpool Walton? The same probably applies whenever anyone who isn't wearing a Tory rosette while campaigning in safely Conservative Beaconsfield.
So, comic relief or serious campaigner, we should let anyone have a crack of the whip.
Undermining democracy? If anything, Lord Biro is making it more interesting.