Rantzen will stand as MP for Luton South

Broadcaster Esther Rantzen made a surprise visit to Luton yesterday to officially announce her decision to stand as an MP.

The presenter plans to stand as an independent candidate in the next election as MP for Luton South. She announced her intention to stand against Labour MP Margaret Moran in the wake of the expenses scandal, after it emerged that the MP had claimed £22,500 to treat dry rot at a property in Southampton, 100 miles away from her constituency.

Mrs Moran has since said she will not defend her 5,650 majority at the next general election, but Ms Rantzen said her decision to stand was not just a protest but also a "glimpse of a vocation".

During the visit to her potential constituency, she donned a straw boater in reference to Luton's hat-making industry. She said: "Maybe having people join the process who have never considered it before will give other voters more choice and will raise enthusiasm to some extent in the whole process."