LONDON Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis launched his parliamentary re-election campaign on Friday, facing competition from the likes of Miss Great Britain, David Icke and the Church of the Militant Elvis Party.
Davis, who quit parliament in protest at what he said was a government attack on civil liberties, should easily retain his Haltemprice and Howden seat in east Yorkshire after Labour and the Liberal Democrats decided not to stand against him.
But the vote, which Davis hopes will generate a national argument, risks becoming an irrelevance and could spell the end of his political career.
To the huge surprise of both political friends and foes, Davis resigned earlier this month after the government won a very close Commons vote to increase the time police could hold suspects without charge from 28 to 42 days.
The Tory politician said he was making a principled stand and wanted to spark debate on the "ever intrusive power of the state on our lives, the loss of privacy, the loss of freedom and steady attrition undermining the rule of law".
However, critics accused him of being egotistical and the government said it showed that the Conservatives were confused and in disarray.
They said the decision of Labour and the Lib Dems not to contest the seat made a mockery of his decision, meaning he would be debating the issue with the likes of Mad Cow-Girl from the Monster Raving Loony Party.
"The Lib Dems are not running, UKIP are not running because they agree with me. They are taking a principled stand saying 'we support David Davis on this issue,'" Davis told Sky News at the official launch of his campaign.
"I don't see this as a distraction. It's a very important issue," he said, adding that two-thirds of electors in the constituency wanted Prime Minister Gordon Brown to field a Labour candidate.
Despite the lack of opposition from the main parties, Davis, who won the seat in 2005 with a majority of 5,116, faces a huge field of 26 candidates for the July 10 poll.
The vast majority describe themselves as Independents, however the list includes candidates from the Green Party, the Christian Party, the English Democrats, the Socialist Equality Party and the Church of the Militant Elvis Party.
However, perhaps the most prominent other name on the ballot is that of David Icke. Icke, a former professional footballer and BBC commentator, now writes books about a worldwide conspiracy involving shape-shifting reptilians.
"I have not put my name forward in the upcoming by-election because I want to win and nor do I have any chance of winning," he wrote on his website. "Personally I am not in the least bothered if I get zero."
For more coverage and a full list of candidates go to here
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