General election: Count Binface and Elmo return to stand against Sunak and Starmer

It is a well-worn tradition of UK elections that joke candidates stand against party leaders.

In an arena where so much time is spent on optics, the visual of a struggling prime minister pondering their future between Lord Buckethead and Elmo is enough to drive any political professional up the wall - but also reminds the viewer that politicians are people too.

There are several familiar faces every time the country goes to the polls - and 2024 is no different.

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Rishi Sunak, win or lose, will be sharing a stage with Count Binface when the results in Richmond and Northallerton are read out - likely in the early hours of 5 July.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will be alongside Elmo in Holborn and St Pancras.

Both of these satirical candidates - Elmo and Binface - stood against Boris Johnson in 2019 and Theresa May in 2017.

But the tradition of joke candidates stretches back even further.

Lord Buckethead is another repeat runner. In fact, footage can be found online of him standing against Margaret Thatcher in 1987.

Some of the characters - like Binface and Buckethead - stand to mock the election process and the candidates they're running against.

Others, like Elmo, have political points to make - in his case about the rights of fathers.

Another example is Derek Jackson, from the Landless Peasant's party, who stood against Gordon Brown in 2010.

Read more about the general election:
Find your new constituency and how it's changed
How boundary changes make Starmer's job harder
The MPs who are standing down

Journalist Auberon Waugh stood against former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe for the Dog Lovers' Party following the Thorpe scandal, in which a dog died.

One way in which people are discouraged from running frivolously for office is through the election deposit scheme.

Every candidate has to stump up £500 to stand as a candidate in a general election - and only gets the money back if they win 5% of the votes.

However, the price has been fixed since 1985, meaning inflation has worn away at the financial burden of running for the Commons.

As well as the individual parody candidates, there are some parody parties.

The largest example is the Monster Raving Loony Party - famous for its big hats, garish outfits and unique candidate names.

It is putting up Sir Archibald Stanton against Mr Sunak in Richmond and Northallerton, and Nick the incredible Flying Brick against Sir Keir in Holborn and St Pancras.

The party was founded by Screaming Lord Sutch in 1982.

The candidates standing in Holborn and St Pancras are:

• Monster Raving Loony Party, Nick the Incredible Flying Brick;

• Liberal Democrats, Charlie Clinton;

• Independent, Andrew Feinstein;

• Independent, Wais Islam;

• Independent, Senthil Kumar;

• Conservative, Mehreen Malik;

• UK Independence Party, John Poynton;

• Reform UK, David Roberts;

• Socialist Equality, Tom Scripps;

• Independent, Bobby Smith;

• Green, David Stansell;

• Labour, Sir Keir Starmer.

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The candidates standing in Richmond and Northallerton are:

• Independent, Jason Barnett;

• Count Binface Party, Count Binface;

• Liberal Democrat, Daniel Callaghan;

• Independent, Angie Campion;

• Workers Party of Britain, Louise Dickens;

• Green, Kevin Foster;

• The Yorkshire Party, Rio Goldhammer;

• Independent, Niko Omilana;

• Independent, Brian Richmond;

• Monster Raving Loony Party, Sir Archibald Stanton;

• Conservative, Rishi Sunak;

• Reform UK, Lee Taylor;

• Labour, Tom Wilson.