Thursday’s UK general election is a two-horse race between Theresa May’s Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. But every election throws up its own local eccentrics, radical alternatives and protest candidates. Here are five of the strangest.
Monster Raving Loony Party
This officially registered party, whose motto is “vote for insanity, you know it makes sense,” has taken part in 25 elections since its foundation in 1982.
Founder Howling Laud Hope, who claims to be the UK’s “longest-serving party leader,” has announced he is standing against the prime minister in her Maidenhead seat.
The 74-year-old leader said the party’s long-term aim is to see the British people “singing and dancing out on the streets” and to give them a “sense of humor.”
Off-the-wall policies in its manifesto include introducing a 99p coin.
In protest at Conservative cuts to public services, including the National Health Service (NHS), the party also pledges to cut letters from the alphabet, “starting with the letters N, H, S.”
The party claims a number of its policies have been stolen by its rivals, such as Labour’s call to lower the voting age from 18 to 16, and UKIP’s adoption of a “one in, one out” immigration policy.
“I don’t know if I’m going to beat Theresa May, but she doesn’t know if she is going to beat me either,” said Hope.
He stressed his party “very rarely comes last.”
Theresa May thinks she can shrug off the Loonies’ challenge with her “strong and stable” leadership. But how will she fair against an “intergalactic space lord”?
Lord Buckethead, who looks remarkably similar to Star Wars character Darth Vader, has returned to politics after a 25-year absence to stand for May’s Maidenhead constituency.
He initially stood for the Finchley constituency against former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1987.
His pledges to offer free sweets to children and to bulldoze Birmingham to make way for a spaceport won him 131 votes.
Buckethead then ran against PM John Major in 1992, before he was reportedly killed on the return journey to his home planet.
I decided to put some of my pledges on the reverse of the flyer, instead of etching them onto a massive stone, because I’m not an idiot. pic.twitter.com/MXtWz7gveA
— Lord Buckethead (@LordBuckethead) June 6, 2017
Buckethead, who got his name from the 1984 film ‘Gremloids,’ told BuzzFeed he is standing against the Tory leader because Britain urgently needs an “opposition.”
“I, Lord Buckethead, am the only candidate standing in the 2017 General Election who directly stood against Margaret Thatcher in 1987, and John Major in 1992,” he told BuzzFeed in a Twitter message.
“Now it is 25 years later, and Britain sorely needs effective opposition. So I have returned.”
BuzzFeed, however, said it has been unable to verify whether this is the same Lord Buckethead of elections past, or indeed whether the Twitter account actually belongs to him.
Eli Aldridge is standing for a well-established political party on a perfectly coherent policy platform. What makes him unusual in this election is his age – he’s still in school.
Eighteen-year-old Aldridge is standing for the Labour Party in the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency against Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.
“I was really gutted that Labour didn’t win [in 2015],” he said, according to the Huffington Post. “So I vowed I would do all I could to prevent that happening again.
“The party has the interests of young people at its heart and they welcomed me in,” he added.
Aldridge decided to run for MP despite the fact he’s sitting his A-level exams during election week.
“In the last seven years, young people have been disproportionately affected by harsh cuts,” said Aldridge.
“We have had our tripling of tuition fees, we have had the scrapping of EMA [Education Maintenance Allowance], we have had housing benefits for 18-21s cut completely and we have had maintenance grants turned into maintenance loans.
“But there’s no one in Parliament that has had that experience, because they’re older,” he added.
Mr Fish Finger
As if Tim Farron didn’t already have enough on his plate with this schoolboy challenger – a man dressed as a giant fish finger is also out to take his seat.
Mr Fish Finger, who hopes to put Farron in his “plaice,” first made headlines when he posted a survey on social media questioning the Lib Dem leader’s trustworthiness.
“There was a poll run on Twitter asking who would you trust more, Tim Farron or a fish finger? The fish finger polled 92 percent. So I thought, ‘if a fish finger can do that, why not stand as one?’” he said, according to Total Politics.
Mr Fish Finger’s main pledges include free fishing rods for students, free fish for NHS workers and unrestricted fish migration.
The breaded cod favorite managed to crowdfund £2,301 ($2,959) in just 28 days to cover his campaign expenses.
Channeling another orange politician, he told RT he wants to “hake Britain great again.”
Little is known about Mr Fish Finger’s stance on Brexit, but he did say there would be “no more foreign fish in our fingers” if he wins on June 8.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has come a long way since its foundation in 1993, establishing itself as a tenable party. Critics, however, have been known to portray its local activists as bigoted, “swivel-eyed” loons.
Some of the policies tabled by UKIP’s South Suffolk candidate Aidan Powlesland are pretty out of this world.
Powlesland has pledged to make post-Brexit Britain a leading country in asteroid mining for platinum and water.
He says he will dedicate £100 million to the construction of an “interstellar colony ship” and has promised a £1 billion award to any company capable of “profitably mining the asteroid belts” by 2026.
According to BuzzFeed, when asked if such starry-eyed plans reflect the will of UKIP devotees, he said somewhat opaquely: “I suppose the absence of the centrality of a proposition within a general dialogue doesn’t necessarily mean that the dialogue is heading in the correct direction.”