At a recent Green Party election training event members were exhorted to find people who could stand as paper candidates in the forthcoming local authority elections.
The rationale behind paper candidates is clear: better exposure, promotes your agenda, has knock on effect in other areas etc etc.
For small parties such tactics are a necessary part of the game in a first past the post system.
It was clear, though, that some Green Party members didn't feel happy with the idea. In some way they felt it was defrauding the electorate. If you're not making any effort to win votes then you're being hypocrical - and their party should be above that.
Funnily enough I shared a long journey to work with the local Lib Dem agent the other week and we were discussing who their candidate might be in the new unitary elections. Their present district member has been invisible for two years and only turns up for meetings to avoid being struck off for six months of no shows. It's likely the Lib Dems will need a paper candidate simply because if no-one is on the ballot their vote might collapse and take a long time to recover.
Are paper candidates hoodwinking the electorate if you don't make it clear what you are doing? Or does that assume people are naive about how parties operate to get elected?
PS: When asking people to be paper candidates a common concern is that people don't want to 'accidentally' get elected and they cite some Conservative councillor this happened to. Is this an urban myth or has a paper candidate ever been forced to make good on his or her commitment?