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In the British general election of 2017, "Lord Buckethead" stood in the constituency of Maidenhead. Buckethead is a pseudonym. I understand Buckethead's identity is not public knowledge:

Buckethead, a self-described “intergalactic space lord” whose real name is unknown, won 249 votes in the Berkshire contest. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/09/lord-buckethead-elmo-and-mr-fish-finger-a-very-british-election

How / why is it permitted to stand for election under a pseudonym? Usually you see the candidate's full name and address on the ballot paper.

How have the electoral authorities confirmed Buckethead is eligible to stand for office? Do they know Buckethead's name in confidence?

Lord Buckethead photo

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If you watch the actual result in Maidenhead, you will see that particular candidate's vote is announced by the acting Returning Officer as "Jonathan, David; known as Lord Buckethead; 249." Similarly he will have given home address details, and any necessary identification procedures when he or his agent submitted his nomination papers as a validly nominated candidate.

If you look at the linked .pdf file, you will see a candidate is allowed to give a commonly used name. The general reason for this system is demonstrated by the next candidate announced in the video, "Hill, Anthony Charles; known as Tony Hill". The Returning Officer has a duty to disallow misleading, or offensive common names, so a candidate in Maidenhead couldn't run as, for example , 'Terry May', unless that was his real name. However Lord Buckethead isn't likely to be offensive, nor is it going to mislead anyone.

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    Well His Lordship misled me - I was watching on mute and thought he was the black knight! More seriously, I'm slightly surprised 'Lord' is permitted, even if 'obviously a joke'. – OJFord Jun 10 '17 at 15:09
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    @OJFord: it’s following a well-known tradition started (as far as I know by Screaming Lord Sutch. – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Jun 10 '17 at 16:12
  • @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine Yes, I didn't mean my surprise occurred (or not, at least, for the first time) this year. – OJFord Jun 10 '17 at 17:39
  • As @SleepingGod notes in another answer, if you want to change your name by deed poll to include 'Lord': "The title must relate to an honour granted by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom and you must be entitled to use the title in accordance with the honour's traditional style of usage." - I only meant I'm 'slightly surprised' the same restriction does not apply to election pseudonyms. – OJFord Jun 10 '17 at 17:45
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    youtube.com/watch?v=4x_CH3M4OJ0 – IconDaemon Jun 10 '17 at 21:03
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It is worth noting that this may not be a pseudonym. In the UK you can legally change your name to virtually anything via deed poll as long as it doesn't fall under the following restrictions

  • does not include at least one forename and one surname;
  • is impossible to pronounce;
  • includes numbers or symbols (see section 2 below);
  • includes punctuation marks that do not have a phonetic significance. However, you can have a hyphen to link forenames or surnames (for example, if you want a double-barrelled name) and an apostrophe in the case of surnames like O'Brien;
  • is vulgar, offensive or blasphemous;
  • promotes criminal activities;
  • promotes racial or religious hatred;
  • promotes the use of controlled drugs or includes the generic or slang name for them;
  • ridicules people, groups, government departments, companies or organisations;
  • may result in others believing you have a conferred or inherited honour, title, rank or academic award, for example, a change of first name to Sir, Lord, Laird, Lady, Prince, Princess, Viscount, Baron, Baroness, General, Captain, Professor or Doctor etc.
  • exceeds the maximum number of characters allowed in a name (see section 7 below).

As such with a deed poll document you can get the name on your passport also changed. Technically speaking therefore this may not be a pseudonym but his real legal name.

I can give you the example as cited in this article of another "personality" who stood in this election but in Westmorland and Lonsdale instead of Maidenhead, where one individual legally changed his name via deed poll to be called "Mr Fishfinger" to stand against the incumbent Tim Farron (Leader of the Liberal Democrats).

Indeed Britain has a long history of people changing their legal names to appear as a joke candidate on a ballot paper, a tactic often taken up by The Official Monster's Raving Loony Party.

Never mind the ballot box, there is a long list of appearances in newspapers where name changes have resulted in some funny situations, I can give this example from last year when Buzz Lightyear was fined £200 for speeding in Devon

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    I would like to note the second to last condition: "may result in others believing you have a conferred or inherited honour, title, rank or academic award, for example, a change of first name to Sir, Lord, Laird, ... etc." – CalculatorFeline Jun 10 '17 at 15:44
  • @CalculatorFeline I suspect a simultaneous change of surname to "Buckethead" might provide a way around that clause. – chrylis Jun 10 '17 at 17:31
  • Possibly. We are in strictly subjective territory now, however. – CalculatorFeline Jun 10 '17 at 19:53
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    I meant "subjective" as in "not strictly specified by the law". – CalculatorFeline Jun 10 '17 at 19:56
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    Note that the above list of restrictions is what the UK Deed Poll Service imposes if you use its services. However, it's not clear how many of those are actual legal restrictions, as opposed to ones which may have been added for practical or other reasons. – Steve Melnikoff Apr 17 '18 at 9:46

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