Richard Huggett

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See also Richard Huggett (playwright).

Richard John Huggett (born January 1944) is a British citizen noted for standing in a variety of elections using descriptions which were similar, but not identical, to those of established political parties, leading to this practice being outlawed under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998.

Background[edit]

Huggett studied psychology and zoology at the University of London and obtained a diploma in social and administrative studies. He lived for about 10 years in the South of France where he built yachts.[1] Huggett was reported to have been an intelligence officer, who from 1989 ran a school for children in Hampshire.[2] The school closed down in 1993 when the lease ran out on the building. He was a father of four, and had produced a first education video.[1]

1994 European Parliament election[edit]

At the European Parliament Election, 1994, Huggett was nominated under the label "Literal Democrat"[3] for the Devon and East Plymouth seat. He ran his campaign from Canonteign Manor, the home he shared with his mother near Christow in the Teign valley in Devon.[2] In an interview recorded during the campaign but due to be broadcast after it Huggett hinted that future government should be conducted through electronic referendums and said "the traditional party system generates all sorts of undemocratic processes."[2]

When the nominations closed and it was revealed that Huggett was a candidate with the description "Literal Democrat",[3] the Liberal Democrats launched legal action in the High Court of Justice alleging that the Returning Officer had wrongly accepted a nomination which was designed to confuse voters. The Judge ruled that the nomination had to stand.[4][5] In the result, Huggett won over 10,000 votes,[6] far more than the 700 vote majority of the Conservative candidate over the Liberal Democrat.

Winchester constituency[edit]

Huggett also attempted to run as "Gerald Maclone" in the Winchester constituency in the 1997 General Election and the following by-election (The sitting MP was junior minister Gerry Malone).[7][8] He stood under his own name as "Liberal Democrat Top Choice for Parliament" in the General Election and as a "Literal Democrat" in the following by-election.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sally Weale, David Hencke, "Literal candidate denies acting as Tory stooge", The Guardian, 15 June 1994.
  2. ^ a b c Peter Dunn, "Party officials find literal truth is hard to take", The Independent, 14 June 1994.
  3. ^ a b "Research Paper, The Registration of Political Parties, Bill 188 of 1997–1998" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. 1 June 1998. The issue of misleading descriptions came to public attention in 1994 when Richard Huggett stood as the Literal Democrat candidate in the European Parliament elections in the constituency of Devon and East Plymouth. 
  4. ^ "Judge credited with thorough job". BBC News. 31 January 2000. 
  5. ^ Patricia Wynn Davies, "Historic win for Ashdown in West Country", The Independent, 13 June 1994.
  6. ^ "UK Politics: Registering the difference". BBC News. 15 January 1999. Former headmaster Richard Huggett hit the headlines in 1992 when he stood as a Literal Democrat candidate in the European Parliament Election in Devon and East Plymouth. 
  7. ^ Fran Abrams (14 January 1997). "Politics taken literally". The Independent (UK). A candidate who was accused of trying to deceive the electorate after he polled 10,000 votes as a "Literal Democrat" plans to stand as "Gerald Maclone" against the health minister Gerald Malone in the general election. Richard Huggett said yesterday that he had received letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor's department under the name Maclone and had even taken out a pension plan. 
  8. ^ David Millward (10 July 1997). "Police investigate 'votes fraud'". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Problems started in December when Richard Huggett – who polled 10,000 votes when he stood as a "Literal Democrat" in the European elections tried to register himself as Gerald Maclone so he could run against Mr Malone. Mr Cowan managed to stop that ruse, but the ingenious Mr Huggett then entered himself on the ballot paper as Liberal Democrat Top Choice for Parliament.