ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL-Boris Johnson's odd election rivals

LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Britain holds an election on Dec. 12, a political gamble by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who sees it as his best chance to break the deadlock in parliament over Brexit.

The main parties are on the campaign trail, traveling the length and breadth of the UK to drum up support.

Following are some colorful snapshots from the election trail:

ODD CANDIDATES

Boris Johnson will have an eclectic mix of candidates to beat on Dec. 12 to win his own seat in parliament, including one claiming to be an interplanetary timelord, a man dressed as a character from Sesame Street, and someone listed only as 'Count Binface'.

Nominations to stand against the prime minister for his seat in west London closed on Thursday, and when the final list was published it included several unusual candidates:

Lord Buckethead, Count Binface, Bobby "Elmo" Smith, and Yace "Interplanetary Time Lord" Yogenstein.

It continues a long-running British tradition of satirical candidates trying to beat the prime minister. Such stunts inevitably climax in a colorful lineup on stage in the early hours of the morning when the results of the election are announced.

Johnson is unlikely to be losing much sleep about any of the independent candidates: in the last election in 2017, Bobby "Elmo" Smith, standing against then-prime minister Theresa May, gained only 3 votes to May's 37,718.

The prime minister may, however, be a bit more worried about the opposition Labour Party's Ali Milani, who is hoping to overturn the 5,000 vote majority with which Johnson won the seat in 2017. Such an upset would make Johnson the first sitting prime minister to lose his seat in more than a century.

BROKEN GLASS

Johnson began his morning by talking about healthcare, one of the key election issues.

But, instead of the usual discussion about how many billions would need to be spent to resolve a funding crisis, he was asked by a BBC breakfast chat show host: when was the last time you used the National Health Service?

Johnson, momentarily flummoxed, said he had needed to go to hospital last summer after treading on a piece of glass from a broken plunger coffee pot at a summer party.

"I was jumping up and down - I think there was music playing - and a piece of glass went straight into the bottom of my foot and into my sole, my heel," he said. "It was absolute agony."

FOCUS GROUPS

A key part of planning an election campaign is know what voters are thinking.

Opinion polls are useful for working out trends and broad preferences, but some politicos like to dig deeper into voters heads. Michael Ashcroft, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, is one of those.

On Friday he published the findings of a series of focus groups - conversations with small groups of voters - about each of the party leaders and policies, which give a snapshot of voter sentiment.

Among the serious analysis about what policies are sticking in voters' minds, Ashcroft's study also gave some insight into a key question: what would party leaders do if they unexpectedly found themselves with nothing to do on a Friday night?

Some of the highlights:

Boris Johnson: "A bit of a messy night out. It wouldn’t be civilized. I think there would be apologies the next morning."

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn: “I can’t see him going out on the town."

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson: "Plotting how to stay in Europe."

Brexit Party's Nigel Farage: "In the pub with his wellies on." (Reporting by William James Editing by Peter Graff)

11/15/2019 18:47

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