Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 16:28 UK

Obama relative 'to stand as MP'

Barack Obama
Barack Obama attended his British brother-in-law's stag night

Barack Obama's ex-brother-in-law says he wants to challenge for the Conservative seat left vacant by MP Andrew MacKay in Bracknell.

Ian Manners, who was married to the US president's half sister, is responding to David Cameron's call for candidates from non-political backgrounds.

The 56-year-old businessman says he is "lifelong Conservative" who was angered by the MPs' expenses scandal.

Mr MacKay is standing down following revelations about his allowances.

Mr Manners, who lives in the constituency, said he had sent a letter to Bracknell Conservative association expressing an interest in the vacancy, after friends had persuaded him he would be a "good candidate".

'Morally wrong'

He said he thought Mr MacKay had done a "good job" as the Berkshire town's MP but he had been shocked by the expenses revelations.

Ian Manners
He is probably on the other side of the fence politically, but some of our values are similar
Ian Manners

"I think it is pretty disgraceful. They say it is within the rules, but MPs have been setting their own rules," he told the BBC News website.

He said he would only consider standing as an MP if the expenses system was changed as he thought it was "morally wrong".

He said he would step back from the day-to-day running of his luxury marquee hire company, which employs nine people.

He said he agreed with Conservative policies, such as "strong family values", and has also said he shares Mr Obama's commitment to fairness and racial equality.

He is a former accountant and restaurant owner, who also worked for a time as Castrol Oil racing competitions manager, alongside champion motorcycle racer Barry Sheene.

Mr Manners was married to Auma Obama Manners, Mr Obama's half-sister, whose mother Kezia Obama was the first wife of the president's Kenyan-born father.

'Public service'

The couple divorced in 2000. Mr Manners said he used to play golf with Mr Obama, and the future US president attended his stag night in Bracknell and his wedding in 1996 and his daughter attended the inauguration.

He said: "There is a family connection. I haven't spoken to him for a long time but there is no bad feeling.

"He is probably on the other side of the fence politically, but some of our values are similar. I am sure he would wish me well."

Andrew MacKay has one of the Conservative Party's safest seats, with a majority of more than 12,000 at the 2005 general election.

But he was forced to stand down after it was revealed he and his wife, Julie Kirkbride, Tory MP for Bromsgrove, both claimed second home allowances.

Ms Kirkbride has announced she too will be standing down at the next election.

Conservative leader David Cameron announced at the weekend that he was re-opening the Conservative candidates list in the wake of the expenses scandal.

He said anyone could apply to stand even if they have not had anything to do with the Conservative Party before.

The Tory leader told the BBC he wanted people who "believe in public service".



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