Parliamentary by-elections on average attract more candidates than a constituency would at a general election.*
The cause of the day – like a hospital under threat in the area, some local political fallout, or some national issue – attracts independent candidates to the ballot paper like flies to a soft banana.
The North Norwich constituency is due a by-election fairly soon. The date hasn’t been set, but any time from mid-July to September is possible, but before the August holidays is the most likely time for Labour to get it over with.
The sitting Labour MP Ian Gibson resigned “accused of claiming £80,000 of taxpayers' money on a London flat that he later sold to his daughter, below the market price”.
With a majority at the 2005 election of just under five and a half thousand, Craig Murray is targeting the seat under an anti-sleaze banner as the first ever candidate for the Put An Honest Man Into Parliament party. (He reckoned that there could be other Independents on the ballot paper, so he wanted to make sure he’d be identifiable.)
You may have heard of Craig Murray before. As well as being a blogger, he is better remembered as Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan who was sacked “for making a stance against torture” and “for failing to toe the British line on intelligence obtained under torture”. I remember listening to him at that time being interviewed on Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today programme, and he came across as a sensible and principled character. (How easily I’m impressed by a voice on the radio!)
While he didn’t do so well standing against then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the 2005 election in Blackburn, Murray is hoping his Norfolk roots and previous work as a Labour party activist in the area will count for him.
It’s a terrible tune, and an even worse video, but it might provide the novelty value that Murray needs to pick up a few votes.
Not that Murray is unfamiliar with novelty. As well as his memoir of what happened between the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Uzbek in Murder in Samarkand, he went on to publish a book online (after being dropped by his publisher) and later in self-published print curiously titled:
You can follow his campaign on his blog.
* Like 80.2% of good bloggers - and many bad bloggers too - I can make up believable statistics at the drop of a hat. Though I reckon this one is true!