Election 2015 England

Election 2015: The fifty shades of Parliament

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption In the 2010 election 11 different parties won seats in the House of Commons

The the battle for Number 10 has been described as a stark choice between the Conservatives and Labour. But is it really just red against blue? Across the country, parties flying flags of all colours will be vying for your vote.

Who are the micro-parties and what do they stand for? BBC News spoke to five candidates.

CISTA

Image copyright CISTA
Image caption Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol hopes to field 50 candidates in the election

Formed in 2015, CISTA (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) has more than 20 parliamentary prospective candidates (PPCs) and hopes to field up to 50.

Matthew Heenan will be standing in Esher and Walton, where Conservative Dominic Raab won by a majority of 18,593 in 2010.

"We're a single policy party and that single policy is that we're calling for a referendum on the regulation of cannabis as soon as possible after the general election," he said.

"It's a issue I've felt strongly about for decades. I've got three teenage children and I feel very strongly that I do not want my kids to have anything to do with criminals as far as possible.

"I know there's a very good chance that my kids will come into contact with people that use cannabis and the way the law is now all those people, by definition, are criminals and I just do not want those people involved with my kids at all."

Image copyright CISTA
Image caption Matthew Heenan will contest the Esher and Walton constituency

Mr Heenan said he was not entering the race just to be an also-ran.

"I'm not expecting to win it but I'm going to be campaigning as if I am. Yes, I'm trying to get more votes than the more established parties but what I really want is to interact with the parties on the issue."

North East Party

Image copyright The North East Party
Image caption The North East Party is calling for devolution for the North East

The North East Party was set up in 2014 by Hilton Dawson, ex-Labour MP for Lancaster and Wyre. It has four PPCs standing in the general election.

Susan McDonnell is standing in Easington - a seat held by Labour for more than 90 years, most recently by Grahame Morris, where she believes people have had a "raw deal".

"I'm not expecting to be elected, I know I'm fighting a 15,000 majority," she said.

"If I was elected it probably says more about Labour losing the vote than me winning it.

"I want to give them what I would call a bloody nose and I'm viewing this as moving in to my apprenticeship."

Image copyright The North East Party
Image caption Susan McDonnell will stand in the Easington constituency

Central to The North East party's ideology is the desire for devolution. It is also campaigning to overhaul the council tax system and to introduce a land tax to stop organisations buying land for development and leaving it empty.

"I think that devolution is the only good thing that can happen in the North East, but I'm talking about devolution on the levels of Scotland, nothing less," said Mrs McDonnell.

"I'm confident that I can get thousands of votes. I think they will come from disillusioned Labour voters. I've got posters up at Easington Colliery, that's Billy Elliot country, and that says a lot."

UBUNTU UK

Image copyright UBUNTU UK
Image caption BMX track manager Mark Sleigh is standing in Sutton Coldfield

UBUNTU UK is fielding two candidates in the May election, Mark Sleigh in Sutton Coldfield and party founder Paul Toussaint in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Both will face stiff opposition in the constituencies, Mr Sleigh will be competing against former Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell, while Mr Toussaint will be challenging Labour's education spokesperson Tristram Hunt.

Mr Sleigh, who manages the Birmingham BMX Club track, said: "It's a major Tory seat at the moment. It would be nice to get a minimum of 5% but it would be fantastic if we could boot the Tories out.

"I'm being positive. I think it's more than possible."

The party will be standing for the first time in the UK since the UBUNTU Party was founded in South Africa in 2012. The name means compassion and humanity.

"The name does throw people, they think it's another Monster Raving Loony Party but we're absolutely not," said Mr Sleigh.

Key to the party's manifesto is the restructuring of banking system to "serve the people and not enslave the people" and the creation of a People's Bank.

Image copyright UBUNTU UK
Image caption The Ubuntu party which formed in south Africa in 2012 is contesting its first UK election

Mr Sleigh said he would also aim to deliver devolution on a grand scale.

"Obviously we need central government as such to be a guide but we need to put the people back in power. In the current system the politicians do not serve the public, they only serve themselves."

People Before Profit

Image copyright People Before Profit
Image caption Nick Long says he wants to put rent control back on the political agenda

"We want to raise our profile. We are a small party and we are looking to gain some credit," says Nick Long, the People Before Profit candidate for Lewisham East.

The constituency has been under Labour control since 1992 when Bridget Prentice replaced Conservative Colin Moynihan. Heidi Alexander took over the seat in 2010 with a majority of more than 6,000.

Nick's predecessor in the constituency polled 332 votes in 2010 but he believes that views have changed.

He said: "There's been a lot of water under the political bridge since then so we're looking to capitalise on the work we've been doing.

"We're keen to improve and we would be disappointed if we did not get somewhere near 4% or 5 %.

"A £500 deposit is a lot to a small party.

Image copyright People Before Profit
Image caption People for Profit will field candidates in Lewisham East and Lewisham Deptford

"We're looking to get over our anti-austerity, anti-privatisation and anti-cuts messages. That's our general campaign theme.

"But what I'm really campaigning around is housing. The biggest issue facing Londoners especially is affordable housing. People can't even afford to rent.

"The control of rent needs to be back on the agenda."

Pirate Party UK

Image copyright Pirate Party UK
Image caption Andy Halsall is standing for the Pirate Party in Sheffield Central

Initially formed in Sweden, the Pirate Party launched in the UK in 2009. Its 2015 conference had a "bring your own rum" policy.

According to its website it believes "being a Pirate means that you are independent minded and independent minded politics is what we need right now."

Andy Halsall is standing for the party in Sheffield Central where Labour's Paul Blomfield narrowly saw of the challenge of Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Scriven in 2010 by just 165 votes.

He said: "Standing is positive in its own way, but obviously I'd like to win.

"One of the fantastic things about elections is you get to talk about the issues that perhaps get ignored the year round and to show that there are alternative parties out there and there are better ideas."

Image copyright Pirate Party UK

Mr Halsall said his campaign was built around a fundamental belief in "evidence based policy", adding that reversing the privatisation of the NHS and scrapping tuition fees were key policies together with surveillance, digital rights and copyright reform.

As for the party name, he said: "We are the serious party with a silly name. It often gives us a two-minute window to talk to people on their doorsteps and that's magical."

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