Ladbrokes quote the former Happy Mondays dancer and now political activist at 25/1 to win the Salford & Eccles seat at the general election.
There will be hundreds of Independent candidates running at the next election. The vast majority of them will get under 5% and lose their deposit. There are only two examples of genuine Indies winning seats in recent times. (I’m excluding non-aligned former politicians such as Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent).
- Richard Taylor. Wyre Forest 2001 & 2005. Running on a single issue platform relating to the local hospital, he was helped by the Lib Dems standing aside in his favour.
- Martin Bell. Tatton 1997. He ran as an alternative to sitting Tory MP Neil Hamilton, who’d become caught up in “sleaze” allegations. Labour & the Lib Dems stood aside.
Bez has got a few things running for him that most Independents don’t have:
- Name recognition. He’ll already be known to the majority of the voters in Salford. He’s also quite a popular guy as evidenced by his 2005 Celebrity Big Brother victory.
- Early start. He’s going about this the right way by launching his campaign well in advance of the election, rather than just rocking up three weeks before the vote with a few leaflets. His Reality Party stood in the Irlam ward on Salford council last month and got a very respectable 17% of the vote.
- Retiring MP. Hazel Blears is standing down and thus Labour will need to field an inexperienced and possibly little known candidate in her place.
I suspect Bez will do a lot better than some other “celebrity” candidates and wouldn’t be that surprised if he could get 10% or so, which would actually be a very creditable result. This is a very low turnout seat (55% in 2010); perhaps if he can motivate a lot of previous non-voters he might do even better than that.