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London Mayor election: How range of joke candidates led to record 114,000 ruined ballots

A dizzying range of joke candidates left voters so baffled a record number of ballots were rejected in this month's London mayoral election.

Around 114,000 ballots were spoilt after the first round of voting because the 20 candidates packed onto a sheet of A4 paper confused voters into either accidentally ticking the first-choice column twice or choosing too many contenders.

Labour candidate Sadiq Khan went on to secure victory in the May 6 election and has been awarded a second term as Mayor of London with 1,013,721 first-choice votes.

But with the four rows of candidates featuring mainly jokesters, public opinion may have become 'disenfranchised', according to one politics expert.

Chris Stafford, doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, told MailOnline the record number of candidates - including three YouTubers and a number of anti-lockdown campaigners - 'could be a sign of general dissatisfaction with major mainstream political parties'. 

A 'space warrior' called Count Binface and Old Harrovian Max Fosh, 26, who said he wanted to annoy Laurence Fox were among the unprecedented 20 candidates who ran for mayor. Mr Fox, a 42-year old actor, also stood for election but lost his £10,000 deposit after securing less than two per cent of the vote.

A 'space warrior' called Count Binface (pictured) and Old Harrovian Max Fosh, 26, who said he wanted to annoy Laurence Fox were among the unprecedented 20 candidates who ran for mayor

YouTubers Mr Fosh (left), 26, and Niko Omilana, 23, were among those entering the race to become London mayor

Labour candidate Sadiq Khan went on to secure victory and has been awarded a second term as Mayor of London with 1,013,721 first-choice votes. Pictured, Mr Khan as he was sworn in for a second term

The London mayoral elections uses the supplementary vote system which meant voters selected their first and second choices. If no one candidate secured more than 50 per cent of the vote when first preferences were counted, second choices were factored in for a run-off between the top two candidates.   

Of the number of joke candidates allowed to run in the election, Akash Paun, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government, said: 'It's embarrassing for those responsible and it's a really serious matter that so many voters have been disenfranchised.'

Mr Stafford said he did not think joke candidates would negatively affect those who were seriously running in the mayoral race. He added: '[Joke candidates] didn’t have a particularly high number of votes, they didn’t get their deposits back. 

'I don’t think it affected the serious candidates too badly. Those people may have voted for another candidate but I don’t think it had too much of an effect on the main candidates because they’re probably people that are not too happy with the main candidate or they would have voted for someone more serious.

More serious contenders included Tory candidate Shaun Bailey (pictured), who was awarded 893,051 first-choice votes, and the Green party's Sian Berry, who won 197,976 first-choice votes

'These are people trying to avoid not voting but not wanting to support the main candidates.'

More serious contenders included Tory candidate Shaun Bailey, who was awarded 893,051 first-choice votes, and the Green party's Sian Berry, who won 197,976 first-choice votes.

So who were the 2021 London mayoral jokester candidates? 

Count Binface - self-proclaimed 'space warrior' campaigning for 'justice and lasers'

Count Binface describes himself as an 'intergalactic space warrior' and first rose into the public eye as Lord Buckethead when he stood against Theresa May in 2017. After a Copyright battle his name was changed to Count Binface.

He is played by satirical comic Jonathan Harvey and was a candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the 2019 general election against prime minister Boris Johnson.

He claims to campaign for 'justice, lasers, Lovejoy and the return of Ceefax' - the world's first teletext information service and a forerunner to the current BBC Red Button service. He also revealed any extra money raised for his London mayoral campaign will go to the charity Shelter, to combat homelessness.

On his website, the candidate thanked the 24,775 Londoners who put him as their first choice for London mayor, adding: 'I finished 9th out of the 20 candidates, in a new record for an alien standing for public office on planet Earth.'

Count Binface describes himself as an 'intergalactic space warrior' and first rose into the public eye as Lord Buckethead when he stood against Theresa May in 2017. After a Copyright battle his name was changed to Count Binface. Pictured, Count Binface waiting for the result of the Uxbridge & Ruislip South constituency in the 2019 General Election

His key manifesto policies included: London Bridge to be renamed after Phoebe Waller; Hammersmith Bridge to be repaired, and renamed Wayne after the former England international footballer; no shop to be allowed to sell a croissant for more than £1; and London to join the EU.

He won 68,121 second-choice votes. 

Max Fosh - old Harrovian who pasted his CV on his car in a bid to get BBC job

YouTuber Max Fosh, 26, entered the race to become the next London mayor with the sole intention of winning more votes than Laurence Fox. He also wanted to encourage more young people to vote in the May 6 election. 

He rose to relative fame in December last year after printing his CV on his car and parking it outside the BBC offices in the hope an executive would reward his initiative with a job at Radio 1. 

Mr Fosh, a former student at £14,200-a-term public school Harrow, revealed he paid £10,000 to stand in the 2021 election in a YouTube video earlier this year. 

YouTuber Max Fosh (pictured), 26, entered the race to become the next London mayor with the sole intention of winning more votes than Laurence Fox. He also wanted to encourage more young people to vote in the May 6 election

He shared his progress in a series of comedic videos, including driving his red car behind Mr Fox's red campaign bus and another when he stood outside Mr Fox's headquarters hoping his rival would join him for a debate.

His policies included: Introduction of fast and slow walking sections of pavements; Put a seed in every cigarette butt in London; Carpet the M25 to make it the smoothest motorway in the world; and 'every household to be provided with a cow which will indicate whether it will rain. Thus, allowing you to have time to bring in the laundry'.

The Independent candidate won 6,309 first-choice votes and 21,409 second-choice.

Piers Corbyn - former Labour leader's brother and fervent anti-lockdown protester

The brother of former Labour leader Jeremy is renowned for his anti-lockdown views and has been arrested on multiple occasions for joining illegal gatherings during the pandemic.

Piers Corbyn, 74, stood for the Let London Live Party and won 20,604 first-choice votes during the local election. Some 34,355 checked Mr Corbyn as their second-choice candidate.

His manifesto includes promises to: End covid rules; Reverse the Covid rules discrimination against people who refuse to wear masks and refuse to take the vaccine; A new accountable NHS, putting well-being before the profits of big-pharma; and defend free speech and the right of assembly.

The brother of former Labour leader Jeremy is renowned for his anti-lockdown views and has been arrested on multiple occasions for joining illegal gatherings during the pandemic. Pictured, Piers Corbyn

In February, Mr Corbyn was slammed for a 'disgraceful' leaflet that compared Britain's vaccination programme to Auschwitz. The cartoon on the pamphlet showed a sign above the gates leading into Auschwitz - where 1.2million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust - that read 'vaccines are safe path to freedom'.

Niko Omilana - 23-year-old YouTuber whose campaign was run on 'vibes'

Niko Omilana, 23, is another YouTuber who ran in the London mayor elections.

In April, polls suggested the youngest candidate was due to come fifth, with a projection of five per cent of the vote. He actually won 49,628 first-choice votes - a total of 1.96 per cent - and 75,199 people put Mr Omilana as their second choice.

On May 9 he tweeted: 'I will not stop until the whole country is run on vibes.'

Niko Omilana, 23, is another YouTuber who ran in the London mayor elections. Pictured UKIP's Peter Gammon (right) and Rejoin EU's Richard Hewison (left) with Mr Omilana (centre) arriving at City Hall, London, for the declaration for the next Mayor of London

Ahead of the vote, Mr Omilana (pictured) told Buzzfeed: 'I'm taking it extremely seriously. I don't know how I can convey it to the voters any more than [I am] right now'

His policies included: To remove the teeth of all racists; Have three quarter length trousers banned; and pregnant people to be offered seats within a minute of getting on the tube or they will be allowed to drive the rest of the route. He also vowed to reduce the price of a Freddo bar back to 5p.

Ahead of the vote, he told Buzzfeed: 'I'm taking it extremely seriously. I don't know how I can convey it to the voters any more than [I am] right now.'   

Brian Rose - Former banker who filmed himself using nun chucks while in his boxers

Former Wall Street banker Brian Rose, 50, also runs a YouTube channel which focuses on anti-lockdown content.

In a bizarre video that emerged online during his campaign to become London mayor, the candidate played with nun chucks while standing in only his underwear.

He also raised eyebrows after a video resurfaced online of the independent candidate drinking his own urine, which he described as 'a little salty', in 2018. 

London mayoral candidate Brian Rose played with nunchucks in his underwear a cringeworthy video (above) that emerged online recently

The US-born former Wall Street banker, 50, also raised eyebrows after a video resurfaced online of the independent candidate drinking his own urine, which he described as 'a little salty', in 2018. Pictured: The nunchuck video

In January, Mr Rose accused Boris Johnson of 'undermining democracy' after he and his campaign team were fined for breaching Covid restrictions after taking to the capital's streets with their battle bus. 

Mr Rose said he and four members of his team were slapped with £200 penalty notices by City of London police who told them that 'campaigning was not a necessary reason to be out of your homes'.

He had been recording a video with his team in Southwark when a police descended on him and his team outside their 'digital battle bus', which began a 15 day tour of London's boroughs on Friday.

After being fined and told to go home, he said: 'This wasn't a couple of officers making a spur-of-the-moment call - we had been under surveillance and the officer in charge was quite clear that we were being arrested for campaigning.'

Mr Rose won 31,111 first-choice and 40,674 second choice votes on May 6.   

Peter Gammons - UKIP candidate mocked because of his ironic surname

UKIP candidate Dr Peter Gammons became a laughing stock after it was claimed his surname was synonymous with a word used to insult 'middle-aged white men'.

An Urban dictionary definition of gammon is: 'Collective noun for white, middle-aged, furious-faced men who are heavily concentrated in the vast reaches of England’s Brexit heartlands.' 

UKIP candidate Dr Peter Gammons became a laughing stock after it was claimed his surname was synonymous with a word used to insult 'middle-aged white men'. Pictured, one of Mr Gammons' policies was to remove Low Traffic Neighborhoods

On his campaign website Mr Gammons said: 'I grew up on a council estate where my mother voted Labour, my father voted Liberal and my brother voted Conservative. Personally, I am very much a centrist and will represent all Londoners in a way no one else can.

'As Mayor I will draw together a non-partisan team, made up of the best people from across the political spectrum to run London.'

His policies included: 8,000 additional police officers; 100,000 new starter homes; scrap congestion charges; and removal of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

He was awarded 14,393 first-choice and 72,425 second-choice votes.

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party: How the number of joke candidates spiraled

Joke political parties have been around since at least 1982, when the Official Monster Raving Loony Party was founded.

But as 2021's London mayoral election was plagued with a record number of jokesters, it seems the trend is on the rise.

Political parties and candidates running with an element of satire are usually reflective of a 'disenfranchised' voter, according to experts.

Chris Stafford, doctorial researcher at the University of Nottingham, told MailOnline 'there's always been a few joke candidates'.

Nick 'The Incredible Flying Brick' Delves of the official Monster Raving Loony Party reacts as he speaks on the phone during the Hartlepool Parliamentary By-election count on May 7

He said 'it's fairly British' and 'just one of the quirks of UK politics', but also 'could be a sign of general dissatisfaction'.

'There’s always been the Loony Party around and certainly with Lord Buckethead and there’s been an Elmo candidate too,' he added.

'It could be a reflection of people sort of seeing a market for standing out as a fun candidate to get or give people an alternative to not voting. It sends a message.'

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party was awarded six seats in the 2021 local elections:

The party was formed on June 16, 1982 at the Golden Lion Hotel in Ashburton Devon and it had 13 candidates in this month's election in Chessington South, Kingston Upon Thames.

In the Hartlepool by election Loony Party candidate Nick the Incredible Flying Brick came 14th. He said: ' I’ve been told that I set a new record for the largest number of votes ever cast for any candidate in 14th place in a Parliamentary by-election in the United Kingdom.'

The party leader, Howling ‘Laud’ Hope, told MailOnline: 'The results were fantastic. We had 30 candidates running and won six. We did very well and many people have congratulated us and we have had lots of remarks on Facebook pages. We want to being in some sensibility. There’s nothing wrong with sensible loonyism.’

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