Labour exerts control over electoral freaks

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CANDIDATES WILL no longer be able to call themselves Duke,King, Queen or Royal to get themselves elected under a move by the Home Office to clear up the lunatic fringe at elections.

Candidates will also be barred from calling themselves "Independent" if they are standing as breakaway candidates from the main parties. Independent Conservative, Independent Labour or Independent Liberal Democrat candidates will be consigned to history under the changes slipped through Parliament.

Titles expressing nationality will also be outlawed, so candidates cannot appear on ballot forms as British, English, Welsh and Scots. Screaming Lord Sutch would be able to stand again as the Monster Raving Loony candidate, but he could fall foul of the new rules if he added "official" or "unofficial".

The Home Office spokesman said the move would clarify matters. "There was confusion between the Literal Democrat and the Liberal Democrat. It is to stop the confusion particularly with disaffected party candidates," he said. Arthur Scargill may be able to stand as a Socialist Labour candidate because his party has made its mark, while the Independent Labour Party would be banned, even though it dates from 1893.

However, there are suspicions of a more sinister motivation. MEP Ken Coates, who was expelled from the Labour Party after criticising the leadership, believes it is another case of control freakery by Tony Blair.

Mr Coates and fellow dissident MEP Hugh Kerr were planning to stand for the European elections as Independent Labour Network candidates, but are barred from doing so under the new laws which came into force last week.

Mr Coates said: "It furnishes one more proof that this whole package of legal measures was aimed at silencing dissent among present and former members of the Labour Party."