With a topless model standing on a 'free-plastic surgery for all' ticket in the UK general election, JOHN MEAGHER takes a look, both here and abroad, at the wacky candidates all elections seem to attract
Katie Price is fond of showing her generous breasts to newspaper photographers. The 23-year-old glamour model is known to her salivating fans (predominantly male, one thinks) as Jordan. Not content with life in the Daily Star's photographic studios, she has her sights set on the House of Commons.
The Manchester lass has shunned the attraction of Labour and the Tories. She stands as an independent in the Stretford and Urmston constituency where she hopes the menfolk will down their bitter and head en-mass to the polling stations. Get your votes out for the girl has a strangely familiar ring about it.
Her primary policy is "free plastic surgery for all". And to boost her credentials she sports silicone-enhanced 34FF busts which females, cross-dressing males and guys who have sneaked a peep at the label on their partner's bra will know, are very, very big (her interest in Enlargement should not be confused with the Nice Treaty). Jordan will be hoping to attract votes from Man United fanatics because she's stepping out with one Dwight Yorke. How she would handle a grilling by Jonathan Dimbleby is anyone's guess.
Elections everywhere have a funny habit of throwing up the oddest candidates. In Ireland, we have seen a fair share of oddballs people who make Ming the Merciless, who stood on the 'legalise cannabis' ticket, seem like part of the establishment.
The now-defunct Natural Law Party, wanted to spread the news about yogic flying (basically hopping about while in the lotus position) and something called Positive Mental Attitude, contested a number of elections here since their inception in 1994.
Some 25 people have stood at elections, receiving close to 7,000 first preference votes in the last European election. At the height of the Yugoslavian conflict, the party called for the deployment of a group of 7,000 experts in the Transcendental Meditation and Yogic Flying programme of Maharishi Yogi.
And while other parties were worried about investigations about their funding, the Natural Law Party had no such fears. Party leader John Burns, who contested last year's Dublin South Central by-election, spent just £163 on his campaign. And the issue of corporate donations won't be troubling them either: last year's total was nil.
They continue to have a presence in the North and will be contesting next month's general election. In some constituencies, the only women standing are members of the Natural Law Party.
The local elections in Dublin in 1999 threw up some unusual candidates, including Mir Silkbeard Kulhavy who stood in the Rathmines ward. The musician with a beard that Moses would have killed for didn't have that many policies and and got 55 first preference votes.
In the 1997 General Election, Rainbow George, who described himself as an apprentice prophet, wanted to lead the country into the political system of the 21st century, where everyone would belong to a government of the people and register their votes by email or smart card.
'There will be no unemployment because everyone will have a job in the people's government," he said at the time. "This is home rule for everybody."
That year, Mr Crook also put himself up for election. At the launch of his manifesto, he dressed as a fat cat, sipped champagne and puffed on a cigar. A member of the short-lived Any Fool Can Be A Politician party, his campaign was sponsored by the anarchist organisation, the Worker's Solidarity Movement who aim to show how little democracy there is in Ireland.
For a deposit of a nominal sum, anybody can contest an election. Take Hugh O'Brien. In 1981 the then 60-year-old college caretaker from Moate, Co Westmeath decided to contest that year's General Elections. Convinced that canvassing was simply a nuisance to voters and politicians alike, and didn't actually influence people one way or another, he set out to prove that point. On the eminently logical grounds that he had once been on holiday in Clare and liked it, Hugh O'Brien travelled to Ennis and handed in his nomination papers to contest the constituency.
That was the only time he set foot in Clare for the whole of the campaign. Calls from the local media went unreturned. O'Brien never canvassed a single vote and waited stoically in Moate for the result. Despite having scarcely every heard of Hugh O'Brien and never having seen or met the man, 21 Clare citizens gave him their first preference votes.
It is, perhaps, worth noting that the longest-serving leader ever of a political party in Britain is Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loonies. They haven't had much luck in Ireland (contesting the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown constituency once), although their cause has not been helped by the fact that the joint chairman is a cat. When the appointment was made, current leader Howling Laud Hope explained how Cat Mandu got the job. "As party chairman I had the casting vote. I didn't have the heart to vote for myself against my cat so I put a proposal to the floor." That's nepotism for you.