The untold story of the Eastleigh by-election: the little-known names looking to step into Chris Huhne's shoes
Huhne, Hutchings and O'Farrell may be dominating the headlines. But won't anyone think of the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party?
Next Thursday's Eastleigh by-election is hotting up. Tory Maria Hutchings put her foot in it over her son's education at the weekend, while the other person with more than a hope of getting in, Labour's John O'Farrell, has been called a "moral reprobate" by Lord Tebbit. Eight of the other 12 contenders are similarly what one might call "unconventional".
Kevin Milburn, Christian Party
Vital info: Pastor Milburn is a keen cyclist and enjoys reading. He is not so fond, however, of gays getting married.
"At short notice," according to his site, he has been called up to give the voters of Eastleigh a "Christian voice for real marriage". Sigh.
Colin Bex, Wessex Regionalist
Vital info: Wants self-government for Wessex, the ancient county spanning large parts of south-west England, including Eastleigh.
"We don't think that would ever extend to independence but it's not for us to say what future generations may think," says Bex.
Dave Bishop, Elvis Loves Pets
Vital info: Also known as The Church of the Militant Elvis Party, Bishop, aka Lord Biro aka Bus Pass Elvis, has stood since 1997, against all time parliamentary greats such as Neil Hamilton, Eric Pickles and Robert Kilroy-Silk. Manifesto includes a campaign for reduction of vet fees, prosecuting the artist Damian Hirst "for the deaths of 9000 butterflies in his recent art show", and "free neutering for cats and Boris Johnson".
Jim Duggan, Peace Party
Vital info: Wants peace (not "and quiet") but the total absence of war. Something we could get down with.
"Jim's candidacy will give the voters of Eastleigh an opportunity to vote for something most of us want, but which isn't even in the manifesto of the other parties — peace!" says his website.
Ray Hall, Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party
Vital info: Hall, a former Conservative voter plans to reinstate the 10p tax, expand smokers' rights and to halt the closure of the nation's pubs.
He also has big plans, "by the General Election in two years' time, hopefully, we'll be a national party." Well, we all love crumpets.
Alan 'Howling Laud' Hope, Monster Raving Loony Party
Vital info: When asked his policies, the successor to the late Lord Sutch said "he had a few points to offer". Sports the biggest rosette in Eastleigh.
Dr Ian Maclennan, National Health Action Party
Vital info: Now retired, Maclennan was a Navy Medical officer, a public health consultant and a GP. Sounds like a good egg. Maclennan's party wants to protect local health services as well as larger plans to reform and de-commercialise the NHS. William Hill is offering odds of 80/1 that he can win in Eastleigh and follow in the footsteps of another campaigning doctor, Richard Taylor, who was elected in 2001 to try and save Kidderminster Hospital.
... and Mike Thornton, Liberal Democrats
This extreme fringe party has crazy plans to stop a gravel pit, prevent houses being built and create a local bypass for Botley. Thornton also pledges to fight evil Conservatives (and, er, Lib Dem coalition partners) keen on enforcing "brutal" cuts to local children's centres. The 4/9 favourite.
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