Friday 22 September 2017

Bus Pass Elvis party candidate plans to hang up his jumpsuit

David Bishop of the Bus Pass Elvis party
David Bishop of the Bus Pass Elvis party

A serial by-election candidate is contemplating hanging up his Elvis jumpsuit after nearly two decades in politics.

David Bishop, of the Bus Pass Elvis party, has stood in 11 parliamentary contests since 1997 on platforms including legalising brothels and giving OAPs a discount, outlawing builders' bums and scrapping HS2.

Mr Bishop, a 72-year-old former painter and decorator from Nottingham, said while he has enjoyed his time on the campaign trail, his most recent campaign in Sleaford and North Hykeham will be his last.

Also known as Lord Biro, Mr Bishop got into politics through art, starting off as a poet. When the chance came to stand against Neil Hamilton in the 1997 election following the Cash for Questions scandal, Mr Bishop decided to give it a go.

He said: "When I was a teenager, I wasn't that interested in politics. I was interested in green things - and the first time I ever voted was the EEC referendum.

"Standing in Tatton was the first one, that got a lot of media attention from all over the world and I really enjoyed it."

At the poll, Mr Bishop wound up eighth out of the 10 candidates - coming in with 116 for the Lord Byro versus the Scallywag Tories party.

In the nearly 20 years since, Lord Byro became Lord Biro, and he has been a regular feature at by-elections, including Haltemprice and Howden in 2008 following the resignation of David Davis, Eastleigh in 2013 following Chris Huhne's departure from the Commons and 2015 when Patrick Mercer stepped aside in Newark.

His peak came in 2014 when he beat the Liberal Democrats at a by-election for the Clifton North ward at Nottingham City Council, but wound up more than 1,100 votes off the winner.

The result made headlines across the country and Mr Bishop said: "I feel a bit guilty about that because they haven't done very well since.

"It was their own fault, they didn't campaign really. If they had campaigned they probably would have beaten me."

When asked if he would actually like to become a Member of Parliament, Mr Bishop said he was not so sure.

"If I had been elected in Sleaford, I would have been pleased in one way but I would have hoped Theresa May called a general election next summer so I'd only have six months," he said.

"I'd probably end up in the Priory but I'd try and make a difference while I was there."

Mr Bishop said he is political - believing strongly in wildlife conservation, preserving public services and rural transport - and tried to register as a supporter for the Labour Party to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader but was turned down.

He said: "I paid my £3, but wasn't allowed to vote as I was part of a rival party."

With the bill of 11 by-elections running to £5,500 - or £6.13 per vote - the price of democracy is not cheap for Mr Bishop.

He said: "It's a lot of money. These last ones (Witney and Sleaford and North Hykeham) I stayed in all summer and tried to save some money out of my pension and I did a couple of odd jobs.

"I didn't go out for about two months because I thought there was going to be a general election.

"Then the rumours were that she wasn't going to call one. When David Cameron resigned, I thought 'I'm all geared up to go, get on with it'."

The miles spent on the campaign trail have begun to take their toll but Mr Bishop is not planning on totally moving away from politics.

He said: "I will still be interested and I will still campaign on things - I saw the news about red phone boxes disappearing and I think they should stay.

"One of the last leaflets I posted before the Sleaford by-election was at the Packet Inn in Dogdyke and I thought 'Dave, this might be a sign that it's time to call it a day'.

"I've enjoyed a lot of it: I've enjoyed going around all these villages that I wouldn't have otherwise seen, these obscure little villages, and talking to guys with dogs, old ladies in the street, especially with the Elvis jumpsuit on."

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