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Our guide to being a ‘paper’ candidate

We need more volunteers to simply put their name as a Green candidate.

In the United Kingdom, major parties often find it difficult to field a full list of candidates for all council seats up for election and ask people to stand as paper candidates so that:

  • Supporters have an opportunity to vote for the party
  • The total vote obtained across the council and the nation is maximised
  • All seats are contested so there is no risk that candidates from other parties can be declared elected unopposed

In Britain, being nominated as a local election candidate simply involves signing some forms, with no deposit required. A paper candidate will often do no campaigning at all and so be able to submit a zero return of election expenses, simplifying the paperwork for the election agent. Paper candidates are commonly fielded in different locations by all the major parties in both local and national elections.

Some paper candidates stand in order to help their party but do not wish to be elected to the post in question. In fact, some only agree to stand after receiving assurances that there is no "risk" of them getting elected.

Some interesting points:

Following the Scottish National Party's landslide in Scotland in the 2015 general election, when they went from 6 to 56 seats (out of 59 Scottish seats), it was reported that some candidates were so surprised at winning they considered resigning immediately after the election. 

In the 2019 general election, some Conservative candidates were selected just weeks prior to the election and won seats in the Labour "red wall" in northern England and Wales, which were previously considered unwinnable by the party.

One main disadvantage to fielding paper candidates in an electoral system like the UK's is that unsavoury details about one candidate's past tend to be more damaging to a party's image across the country, no matter what that candidate's chances of election actually are. Therefore, paper candidates for major parties in Britain are almost as heavily vetted as candidates who are expected to win their seats.

If you have any questions or would like to be a paper candidate for us, then please email

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