The celebrities who want to be your next MP

It’s not just your lifelong politicans who enter the fray when it comes to election time.

With the next general election now confirmed for July, there are already some faces in the mix you might recognise from other walks of life.

They wouldn’t be the first from the worlds of entertainment and sport to venture into politics – the late Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson won a seat for Labour in the 1992 election, as did TV personality Gyles Brandreth for the Conservatives.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was known as a comedian and actor before assuming his current role in 2019.

Here are some new candidates hoping to become MPs in July – along with one who bowed out after just eight days.

Dave Rowntree

Pic: Gonzales Photo/Alamy
Pic: Gonzales Photo/Alamy 2023

Blur‘s drummer has been selected as a Labour candidate standing for the Conservative-held Mid Sussex seat, and is hoping to turn it red for the first time.

The constituency, covering Burgess Hill, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and the Mid Sussex villages, is currently represented by Mims Davies.

Despite finding huge success as a musician with Blur, Rowntree is no stranger to politics. In May 2017, he was elected as a Labour county councillor serving the University ward in Norfolk, standing down in 2021.

He also stood as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster in 2021, although was unsuccessful.

“The Tories have run out of ideas, and the Lib Dems have run out of steam,” Rowntree said when the news of his latest political bid was announced. “I’m running for parliament to provide the energy and vision the area so desperately needs.”

Blur played Wembley and returned to the top of the charts last year with their ninth studio album, The Ballad Of Darren.

James Cracknell

File pic: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
James Cracknell poses for photographers upon arrival at the Pride of Britain Awards on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021 in London. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Pic: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP 2021

It was announced last year that Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell had been chosen as the Conservative candidate for Colchester for the next general election.

Best known for his time on the water, he won gold in the coxless fours at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and rowed alongside the likes of fellow Britons Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent.

In 2010, he suffered a serious brain injury when he was knocked off his bike in America – an incident that changed his personality and gave him epilepsy. However, he made a remarkable return to rowing in 2019, winning the university boat race with Cambridge. He also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing that same year.

Cracknell has previously been mentioned as a potential Conservative candidate and stood to be an MEP for the party in southwest England in 2014.

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Now, he hopes to take over from Will Quince, who is standing down as MP for Colchester, where the Conservatives have a majority of 9,000 over Labour.

“My experience as a sportsman has taught me to set my own targets and on the way proving people wrong to achieve them,” he writes on his website. “I desperately want to be in a position to encourage people to back themselves. There is more potential, resilience and drive within each of us than we realise. Let’s back ourselves.”

He is up against historian Pam Cox, who is standing for Labour.

Tom Gray

Tom Gray, from the band Gomez, was announced as chairman of The Ivors Academy in 2022. Pic: PA
Pic: PA

Musician and activist Tom Gray is a Mercury Prize winner, a co-founder of indie rock band Gomez who has also written music for TV and theatre.

He is also a founder of the Broken Record campaign, calling for better practices in streaming, and chair of the Ivors Academy, the professional association for songwriters and composers.

He has long been known for his activism for Labour, and in December was announced as the party candidate in the Brighton Pavilion constituency – pipping comedian and actor Eddie Izzard, who had also made a bid to stand for the party.

Labour is hoping to win Brighton Pavilion for the first time since 2005 after Green MP Caroline Lucas announced she would be standing down.

Josh Tapper

Josh Tapper appeared on Gogglebox before moving into politics

A former star of Gogglebox, Josh Tapper has been selected by Labour to run against Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden in Hertsmere, Hertfordshire, at the next general election.

Mr Dowden has held the seat since 2015 and has a sizeable majority of 21,000.

However, with recent by-elections seeing the Tories ousted in safe seats, Tapper is hopeful he can inspire change.

“I’m thrilled and honoured to have been selected as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hertsmere,” he said in a statement earlier this year. “Thank you so much to local members for your support – I won’t let you down. The work to unseat the deputy prime minister starts now!”

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Tapper first appeared on hit Channel 4 show Gogglebox with his family when he was a teenager in 2014. He quit the show in 2017 after landing a job in the civil service.

In 2022, he also stood for selection in the North London seat of Chipping Barnet.

And he is not the first Gogglebox star to move into politics. Andy Michael, who died in 2021, was part of the show’s first episode in 2013, but left a year later when he announced he was running in the general election for UKIP. His family rejoined the show after he was unsuccessful in the Hastings and Rye constituency.

Alison Hume

Alison Hume, a TV writer, is standing for election in Scarborough and Whitby

You may well know some of Alison Hume’s work as a British television writer. Hume, pictured above with Tarka, a rescue dog and her campaign mascot, is the creator of the CBBC series The Sparticle Mystery and the 2005 BBC drama Rocket Man, starring Robson Green. She also wrote the 2008 TV film Summerhill, starring recent Eurovision contestant Olly Alexander, and the 2002 film Pure, starring Keira Knightley.

A trade unionist and disability campaigner, she is standing to be the next Labour & Co-operative Party MP for Scarborough and Whitby – hoping to replace Sir Robert Goodwill who won the seat from Labour in 2005 and is now standing down.

Hume is a “proud graduate” of the Jo Cox Leadership training programme, according to York Press, which says that current polling predicts she will become the constituency’s first Labour MP in almost 20 years.

“I never intended to go into politics, but after 20 years balancing bringing up three children, one with complex disabilities, with a successful career in the creative industries and a track record in disability campaigning, well, here I am,” she writes on her website.

“I will work 24/7 for a future which brings equality of opportunity, investment and a fairer, greener future to our coast and country.”

Monty Panesar (briefly)

Monty Panesar in 2013. Pic: PA
Pic: PA 2013

Former England cricket star Monty Panesar announced in April that he was standing as a candidate for George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain in the west London constituency of Ealing Southall.

Panesar, who played for England between 2006 and 2013, was set to run against Labour incumbent Virendra Sharma, who has been the MP there for 18 years.

Writing in The Telegraph, Panesar even said he had aspirations to “one day become prime minister”.

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However, he withdrew his application after eight days, saying he needed more time to find his “political home, one that aligns with my personal and political values”.

He added: “I wish The Workers Party all the best but look forward to taking some time to mature and find my political feet so I am well prepared to deliver my very best when I next run up to the political wicket.”

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