Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Become an MP

november 2011

This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try. 

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



It really is wonderful to learn of so many people reaching retirement who have taken up brand new interests, hobbies and even careers. Today age really does not seem to be a hindrance and we have learned of people in their 70s and 80s taking up exciting new activities, adding absorbing new interests and friends to their lives.

From next month the Out of the Box series will be incorporated in our Leisure section alongside our new series of How To....a beginner’s guide to all sorts of fun and useful activities for people in laterlife.

We won’t be ignoring Out of the Box entirely – we will be going through all the previous features, updating where necessary and ensuring they are all current for right now. Once that is complete we will consider adding even more weird and wonderful ideas to find fun and useful activities in laterlife.

But for our final feature in this section of laterlife, we are again looking at something very different. Many people become involved in politics in laterlife, but very very few actually consider...



Becoming an MP

Houses of ParliamentGrumpy old men? – and women? There are some statistics that show older people make the most complaints. That may be because we have seen things done better in the past. But whatever the reason, instead of just complaining, have you ever thought about trying to make real change?

Becoming an MP is not the preserve of those who have studied PPE at university or spent years in political research gaining contacts and influential colleagues. Anyone can become an MP if they receive enough votes from people in their specified area.

Now is a great time to think about standing as there is tangible frustration with the current crop of MPs, not helped by the recent expenses scandals which crossed party borders.

If you do not have a party affiliation, there is growing interest in independents standing and increasing thought that more independent MPs are needed to help gain a sensible balance in Parliament.

So what are the steps? First you need to check you can stand – and we are talking here about the House of Commons. You cannot simply stand for the House of Lords – well not at the moment.

But to stand as a Member of Parliament you have to be a British citizen or a citizen of a Commonwealth country who is allowed to live in the UK on a permanent basis. You are banned from becoming an MP if you are an undischarged bankrupt although a history of bankruptcy in the past will not preclude you. You also cannot stand if you are in prison serving a term of longer than a year, if you are a member of the police, services or clergy, or it you have previously been convicted of electoral offences.

That is not too onerous and means most of us could stand as an MP. The next step is what you want to stand for. If you already feel very close to the aims of an existing political party, then of course you can join them; but here there will be enormous competition to go through the various official selection processes and it can be very difficult.

You can however stand as an independent without being affiliated to any main party, or you can even start your own political party. Both of these are a lot easier to do than you think and you might be surprised at the interest and support you gain from friends.
To stand as an independent, first you need to choose your constituency, ideally where you live as that makes life so much easier. Then you need to get the support of just ten people who are registered to vote in this constituency to sign your nomination papers. Once a general election is announced, you will need to get these papers to your local Returning Officer by the deadline day.

Really the main setback is money – at the moment you have to pay a £500 deposit to stand as a candidate and if you don’t achieve 5% of the vote, then you will lose this.

Then you have to find a friend or supporter who is willing to become your electoral agent. It sounds a grand title and it is quite a responsible position; he or she helps to organise your campaign and is also responsible for submitting your accounts. You and your agent need to run through the regulations carefully as there are various rules for candidates, for instance donations over a certain amount have to be declared.

If you are feeling exciting about it all, you can always start your own political party instead of simply standing as an independent. Again there are a number of mandatory requirements – finding an acceptable name for your party is key (nothing rude or offensive), plus you need to nominate an officer and treasurer and draw up a constitution. But none of this needs to be complex and there is lots of advice on the website on how to do this. There is a little extra cost involved – you need to register your party with the Electoral Commission for £150.

But really standing for Parliament is not particularly difficult – the real problem lies in getting your name and views known to gather support.

This is why you do really need a strong group of friends, family and supporters so they can all help you spread the word. But lots of people really enjoy doing this, especially if they believe they are fighting for improvements they believe in.

Today standing as an MP is very competitive, and fundraising can help enormously to pay for travel, advertisements, posters and so forth, but it is surprising the headway you can make with minimal funding.

Even if you do not get elected, standing for Parliament means you can booster support for your views and they may well filter through to the candidate in your area who finally gets elected. And it also gives you great credibility when you and your friends are complaining about the state of modern affairs – at least you can say you put your money where your mouth is and tried to do something about it!!

There is lots of information on the website about how to become an MP. A very good place to start is at the Electoral Commission’s official website at
And especially at...

There is also good information at



    Keep in touch with everything happening in Laterlife Today!

    Subscribe to our free monthly email newsletters for the latest articles, offers and events. You can unsubscribe at any time should you want to.

Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this

Tell us about the unusual things that you've tried

Want to comment on this article or ask other laterlife visitors a question?

Then visit the comment section of the Later Lifestyle Network, click on the 'Discussion Tab' (you can't see this until you are logged in) and create a new topic or add your views to an existing one. 

feeling Good

Feeling Good

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also associated regular columns of a more specialist nature such as Healthwise, Gardener's Diary, our regular IT question and answer section called YoucandoIT and there's also 'It could be you' by Maggi Stamp laterlife's counsellor on human relationships. 

Looking to the future

Looking to the future

Tell us about what you would like to see here on in the future or any changes you would like to see. Just email

Latest articles

To view the latest articles click on laterlife interest or to view indexes to previous articles click on laterlife interest index. To search for articles about a certain topic, use the site search feature at the top right of the page.
Back to Laterlife Today

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site


Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti