So you’d like to stand for parliament? There's still time and if you have a spare £500 to burn you may yet be up before the electorate on 6 May. Provided that is you're not a convicted criminal.
The absolute deadline for getting your nominations in to your local Returning Officer is 4pm on Tuesday 20 April. You need to be be at least 18 years old (on the day you are nominated) and either a British citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or in some circumstances being a citizen of a Commonwealth country will do.
There is a fairly long list of people disqualified from being a member of Parliament, including members of the police and armed forces, civil servants, judges, undischarged bankrupts and convicted prisoners serving a prison sentence of more than 12 months.
Note the wording carefully: such individuals cannot be members of Parliament. That does not stop any of the above from standing, so long as, on the day they take up their seat, the disqualification no longer applies to them. But if you think you may be debarred for any reason don’t take our word for it - get legal advice.
The full list of disqualified persons is contained within the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (pdf), which, with due regard for the absurdities of the British constitution, reveals that characters such as the Lyon King of Arms (and his clerk) and the steward of the manor of Northstead are also barred from standing. High Sheriffs may stand for parliament, so long as they stand outside the county that they sheriff for.
But assuming that you are neither a sheriff, nor Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Greater London, the next step is to find 10 people who are registered to vote in the constituency of your choice to nominate you (or technically a proposer, a seconder and eight "assenters"), and to deliver that plus a deposit for £500 to the Office of Acting Returning Officer before the deadline.
Will you get your deposit back? It is returnable if you can score five per cent or more of the votes cast – an unlikely feat for an independent or member of a small party, but not unheard of.
While you are about it, you may wish to come up with a description for yourself. Bear in mind that it must not be offensive, obscene or otherwise criminal – and not designed in such a way that it is likely to mislead voters into thinking you belong to a party that you don’t.
This last provision is courtesy of s49 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006, and follows some years after Liberal Democrat Adrian Sanders failed to gain a European seat in 1994 – almost certainly due to the intervention of a party styling itself the "Literal Democrats".
It is, of course, a good deal cheaper for the individual concerned if they are able to find a major party prepared to adopt them as a candidate. Sadly, we suspect there are few vacancies remaining on this front. However, if you have any ambitions whatsoever on the candidacy front, you should visit the Electoral Commission's website now, for a set of useful guides to almost all you need to know about the subject.
Does online barnstorming translate easily to real-life politics? The jury is out on that one – in this case literally - as opinionated political blogger and Reg reader Old Holborn is currently standing as Jury Party candidate for the constituency of Cambridge. If you know of any other Reg regulars making a similar leap, please let us know. ®