Election 2015 England

General Election 2015: Why become an MP?

Eccles Image copyright Chris Morgan
Image caption Who will replace Hazel Blears as MP in the constituency of Salford and Eccles?

If you want to be a candidate in the General Election next month then 9 April is your last chance to register. Hundreds of people have already put their name forward in the hope of becoming an MP. But why do they do it?

It's a fair to say that political activists are a unique bunch. For some reason they've developed strong beliefs and they feel compelled to stand up and be counted.

They'll knock on your door to canvass your opinion, knowing there's a good chance you'll be rude to them, because their heart tells them it's worth the risk.

Mahatma Gandhi said: "Be the change that you wish to see in the world."

In the constituency of Salford and Eccles, where Labour's Hazel Blears stood down after being an MP for 18 years, there are eight people who are prepared to be just that.

'A lost generation'

The most recognisable face among them is Mark Berry - better known as Bez - famous for shaking his maracas on stage with the Manchester band Happy Mondays.

He admits he's never voted in his life but says his campaign is ignited and energised by his opposition to fracking.

Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate Noreen Bailey says she wants to speak up for those without a voice.

Helen Van Dyke of the Green Party says too many people in society are suffering and she wants to help fix those problems.

The Pirate Party's Sam Clark is standing because he feels a lack of different voices has left people disenfranchised with local politics

While army veteran Paul Doyle, who's representing UKIP, says he's been spurred into action over fears for "a lost generation in Salford."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mark Berry aka Bez spoke out against fracking in Salford during the Barton Moss protests

In Greg Downes, the Conservatives have a vicar who believes Christians should offer themselves for public service.

He says integrity and truth is needed in our public life and thinks he can provide it.

The Lib Dems came second here at the last General Election and their candidate Charlie Gregg believes many MPs have lost touch with "the working man". He thinks he could turn back the clock.

I'm sure every election candidate must treat themselves to at least a fleeting moment when they believe they can win but we know the odds are stacked against those outside the big parties, especially in Labour heartlands like this.

Ms Blears won by nearly 6,000 votes in 2010 and it would be a surprise if her party's Rebecca Long-Bailey isn't packing for parliament on 8 May.

The daughter of a Salford docker, she says watching her parents struggle with debt and job uncertainty crystallised her desire to improve living standards and quality of life.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Hazel Blears entered Parliament as MP for Salford in 1997 before the new seat of Salford and Eccles was created in 2010

So a range of candidates with a genuine hope for your future and you'll find this is the case in whichever constituency you live.

However annoying it is to pick up yet another leaflet from your doormat, we should perhaps be reassured that these people are out there, whether you agree with them or not.

You can read my wider Greater Manchester election guide here.

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