What kind of madman happily tosses off 500 notes for the pleasure of standing as a candidate in an election they have zero chance of winning? Hundreds of Liberal Democrats are about to do just that of course, but at least they have the dwindling funds of a soon-to-be-chastened national party to help them out, which can’t be said of the score of independent candidates lining up across London’s 73 constituencies.
20 people with a wide range of reasons for stepping up to the plate — some laudable, some dubious, some unfindoutable to Londonist’s crack team of election watchers who aren’t sick and tired of the campaign yet (of course not, don’t be ridiculous). Here is Londonist’s piecemeal and slipshod guide to all 20 of London’s indie candidates, wherein our many days of research are boiled down to a handful of facts from Wikipedia and a startling array of speculations and shrugs. We’ve not included one-man bands who’ve branded themselves as a ‘party’, like this guy, because people like that probably talk about themselves in the third person and there’s just no need for it.
And of course, all 20 are probably more worthy of your vote than the berks being put up by the main parties (more true of one than the rest, as you’ll see if you dare read on).
Lucy Hall: Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Lucy has rather helpfully put together a YouTube video outlining her reasons for standing, and you can watch that below. She has the lofty goal of a ‘new and radical approach to politics’, which seems to involve her taking her seat in Parliament and casting her vote based on the views of her constituents, possibly gathered via some kind of app. Sounds like a great idea.
We’ll ignore that such a system would mean all MPs could be replaced by robots and that the reintroduction of the death penalty would be almost immediate given a majority still, somehow, in 2015, think it’s a good thing. Lucy would also presumably like to retain the MP’s salary while she allows the residents of Bermondsey and Old Southwark to do the work she’s been elected to do.
Noel Coonan: Brent Central
Nothing. Nada. Nowt. Bugger all. That’s what we’ve been able to find out about Noel Coonan. In the words of YourNextMP, ‘Noel Coonan hasn't sent us their CV. We don't know of any leaflets from Noel Coonan. We don't know of any articles about Noel Coonan right now’.
Noel, who are you? What drives you, tips you over the edge into political candidacy? You are an enigma, the ghost of Cricklewood, perhaps wailing quietly at the injustice of powerful elites bent on closing the A&E unit at Central Middlesex Hospital. Or perhaps it’s a pub bet.
Elcena Jeffers: Brent North
Elcena Jeffers is the founder of the Elcena Jeffers Foundation, it’s fair to assume (it would be bloody strange if she wasn’t). The Foundation, and thus Elcena’s principal reason for running in Brent North, is to provide advice on independent living for disabled people. She submitted detailed evidence to the Select Committee on Work and Pensions which pretty well outlines exactly what she’s campaigning for, among other things, and good luck to her we say.
Lee Roger Berks: Croydon North
Title of article duly justified.
Lee, or indeed Lee Roger, is another candidate about which we’ve struggled to unearth facts. The Croydon Advertiser similarly struggled, with a huge table of information and policies of every candidate standing in the constituency, with the sole exception of Lee, or indeed Lee Roger. He sounds like a forces man: we picture him as an RAF veteran campaigning to restore Croydon Airport to its former glory. Or maybe it was a pub bet.
Mehdi Akhavan: Chipping Barnet
The only independent candidate in London to have produced a campaign leaflet that we’ve managed to find online. There may be other leaflets, but this is a website. The leaflet in question explains that Mehdi will be ‘hard working and dedicated to the needs of the whole community’. He will also be ‘experienced’, though it doesn’t say in what, and he’s not been an MP before as far as we can tell. More money for the NHS, helping small shops stave off the threat of supermarkets and some policies on housing and homelessness that Londonist can happily endorse make up the bones of Mehdi’s pitch.
Also, there was an Iranian poet called Mehdi Akhavan-Sales who looked remarkably like Albert Einstein. So there’s that.
Terry London: Dagenham and Rainham
Not a huge amount of information about Terry and what he feels about the future of Dagenham and Rainham. We did manage to establish that he seems to have been a member of a council in Barking at some point, under the banner of the Lib Dems. Hang on, is calling someone a Lib Dem these days libel?
At any rate Terry seems to be an independent candidate now, hopefully using his excellent name to confuse a few BNP voters into putting their X in the wrong place, in a seat likely to be held by popular Labour man Jon Cruddas.
Robin Lambert: Dulwich and West Norwood
For some reason, Lambeth Council have gone to town on informing us about candidates in the elections, which is handy when it comes to learning about man of many names Robin Andrew David Lambert. He is something of an election veteran, having stood in various local elections in the past couple of decades, as well as the last general election in Hendon, and the one before that in Ealing. He didn’t win.
As the link above explains, Robin is an advocate of getting the hell out of the EU as quickly as possible, so it’s no surprise to learn he’s a former member of UKIP (it was for them he stood in Hendon last time out). Unlike most, he doesn’t seem to have left the party in a cloud of scandal. Perhaps he just figures he’ll get more votes as an independent given UKIP’s crap efforts in London.
Jonathan Notley: Ealing Central and Acton
Another candidate with a handy YouTube video explaining his policies and motivations in fu— hang on, it’s just someone who’s recorded a BBC news story and posted the grainy results online. It definitely looks like Jonathan Notley has uploaded it. And ‘No to Overdevelopment’ seems to be his angle.
And if you watch the BBC report, there are people within it moaning that there are too many houses being built in their borough. Too many houses. Yes that’s London’s biggest problem, too many houses. Vote for Jonathan and watch your kids have little choice but to move to Rotherham in the 2020s.
Russell Shaw Higgs: Hackney South and Shoreditch
Where once there were two artists standing as independents in Hackney, there’s now just the one — Russell Shaw Higgs flying the flag for culture after the withdrawal of fellow artist Gordon Shrigley.
Higgs is a man of environmental urges, with various updates over at Sustainable Hackney. Those appear to be leaves glued to his head there. He was interviewed by the East End Review in February and ‘has not ruled out winning’. Higgs has chosen a bright pink fluorescent briefcase and a bowler hat as the twin emblems of his election campaign. He is what people who know about this type of thing call a ‘conceptual artist’. He paints concepts?
Stephen Patrick Brennan: Hammersmith
Hammersmith is one of those rare constituencies where the Tories reckon they have a decent chance of deposing the incumbent Labour candidate, the most recent Shadow Minister for Justice, Andy Slaughter. Every vote may count, making the presence of an independent candidate all the more interesting.
Even the 135 votes (0.3% of the total votes cast) which Stephen Patrick Brennan earned in the 2010 election will be coveted by the main parties. Unfortunately we’ve been able to find out little about what Stephen is campaigning for. Then again, it’s likely to be quite hard to pin down a man who died in Minnesota in 1972.
The Eurovisionary Ronnie Carroll: Hampstead and Kilburn
And Stephen’s not the only corpse on the ballot paper — singer Ronnie Carroll signed himself up a few weeks ago as a candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn, then proceeded to die before the vote. Due to the vagaries of the system his name remains in the hat, and should he triumph next week as he surely will, the vote will have to be run again in a farcical state of affairs that might prompt even Russell Brand to get himself down the polling station.
Ronnie was known as an entrant in two Eurovision song contests, but his life was a hell of a lot more interesting than that might suggest. He was once married to the famous entertainer Millicent Martin, ran a successful nightclub in Grenada, went bankrupt and attempted to become the first election candidate ever to register zero votes (it didn’t work). His obituary makes for entertaining reading. Good luck Ronnie, wherever you are.
Kailash Shanker Trivedi: Harrow West
Kailash’s last election bid, if the internet is to be believed, which is increasingly questionable by the way, came in 2004. But there was no election in 2004 we hear you murmur uninterestedly. Ah, but there was in Uttar Pradesh.
If that’s the same man, he has now shifted his electoral ambitions to north-west London, where he will face such harrowing (goal!) issues as unscrupulous developers trying to rip off locals in the area around Harrow school and yet more harsh times at the local A&E. Yes, we know that’s actually Harrow East, but Harrow West has had no news at all in about six months, since someone found a rat’s head in a bag of spinach, and even that was in High Wycombe.
David Neil Thomas Harvey: Lewisham Deptford
The mysterious David Neil Thomas Harvey tells us in his Twitter bio that he is ‘Standing to tell you, you have #Option2Spoil. What other Party does that?’. But you’re not a Party, David. You’re not a Party.
He has produced a handy 37-second video explaining his ideas to the electorate. Broadly, his view is that the political system is a load of bollocks and he very much wants to be part of it. In the video, he calls himself David Neil Thomas Harvey, twice, which is brave.
Doris Osen: Ilford North
The Osens are a politically aware family and no mistake. In the 2010 election, Adam Osen changed his name ‘officially’ to None Of The Above and picked up 202 votes from people who had gone all the way to the polling station to have their say that all the other candidates were shite. That was three times as many votes as Barry ‘not the’ White.
Adam has passed the baton onto a new generation for 2015. A new, older generation — his mother, Doris. She’s 85 years old, got her law degree at age 70 for some reason and is standing because she fears for her grandchildren’s future. Clearly she has more time for her grandchildren than None does for his own kids since he’s not standing this time, presumably fearing humiliation at the hands of his own mum.
David Hansom: Lewisham West and Penge
Now here’s a man we know plenty about, because David has helpfully uploaded his CV for potential voters to peruse. In it we can see that he is recently retired and is a fan of golf, as he is campaigning to protect the public golf course at Beckenham Place Park.
His CV, which we’ve now realised is very detailed having scrolled down it a bit, suggests he is a researcher, because the word ‘research’ appears many times. That’ll come in handy as he wrestles with such issues as a new residential development in Sydenham that will contain a massive 36% affordable housing, which suggests 64% will be unaffordable, and therefore remain empty. No change there then.
Mahtab Aziz: Leyton and Wanstead
Another detail-free candidate. Who are you Mahtab? Are you this bloke?
Michael Doherty: Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Michael Doherty is a man fighting for justice for those denied it, as his Twitter feed explains at some length. He is the man behind Justice Now, which seeks to inform on corruption, whistleblowing and anything where the common man or woman gets trampled on by faceless corporations, multinational organisations and all those other things we all hate so much but probably work for.
How wierd... Uxbridge & Ruislip South (constituency) Is an anagram of.... #voteDoherty or you're all doomed
— Michael Doherty (@JU5TLAW) April 29, 2015
A classic ‘standing up for the little guy’ candidate, and given the other people on this particular ballot paper, we would be very happy to see Michael as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip come 8 May. But having said that...
Jenny Thompson: Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Just to confuse things there’s another independent in the same constituency, presumably drawn to the area by the cameras trained on London’s soon-to-be-part-time Mayor. Got her own website and everything! Stopping HS2 seems to be the main focal point of Jenny’s campaign, though she’s decided to plaster her site with lots of pictures of trains. Londonist likes trains, so we’re very confused now; are we meant to want more trains or less?
On her ‘other major issues’ page, she has a section entitled ‘Remove Katie Hopkins as a Columnist’, in reference to a Change.org campaign about the divisive tabloid writer. Could just stop buying The Sun, no?
Nicholas Ward: Westminster North
Talking of HS2, Nicholas Ward is also up in arms about it and using it to fuel his campaign in Westminster North. Like Jenny Thompson he has a very informative website to back him up, suggesting fierce opposition to HS2 among members of the web development community. Or maybe they just hate going up north, and we can’t blame them for that.
Nicholas even includes a page explaining why he’s standing as an independent rather than for a political party. He believes that “the House of Commons would benefit from the election of a number of MPs who have no party-political affiliation and who participate in proceedings independently, not adopting collective policy decisions but rather speaking and voting as individuals”. And he’s probably right about that.
Ellie Merton: Walthamstow
Ellie Merton’s first reason for believing she’s the best candidate running in Walthamstow is “I am a woman”. Though that seems a flimsy line of thought given that half of everyone can say that, Londonist heard an insane statistic the other day, that fewer than 400 women have ever been MPs in the House of Commons. It’s one of those stats you really have to marvel at, so yes, it’s a fair enough reason for Ellie to want in.
But beyond that she’s promoting a pleasantly centre-left agenda of renationalisation, and end to heavy-handed austerity, greater participation in and funding for the arts and the like. Her website mentions she’s had some grief with the Royal Mail delivering her leaflets inside a political party’s booklet (doesn’t say which one) and an erroneous online connection with Al Murray’s nonsense in Kent. A sensible candidate deserves better. For what it’s worth Ellie — and you and Londonist both know that’s naff all — you have our vote.
Read more of Londonist's election coverage.