Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 12:38 UK

Rantzen will run for Parliament

Esther Rantzen visited Luton to gauge public reaction
Esther Rantzen visited Luton to gauge public reaction

TV presenter Esther Rantzen has said she will run for Parliament at the next general election - expected in 2010.

She will attempt to win the Luton South seat, in the wake of revelations about the outgoing Labour MP Margaret Moran's expenses claims.

Ms Rantzen, the former host of the BBC's That's Life, said standing for Parliament would be an "adventure".

Many people were annoyed Ms Moran had claimed £22,500 to treat dry rot at her second home - 100 miles from Luton.

She announced she would be standing down at the next election shortly before Labour's own inquiry ruled she could not run again for the party.

'Crazy to stand'

Ms Rantzen told the BBC she had long been "fascinated by politics" although it was a "very different world" from that of broadcasting.

But she said the welcome she had received in Luton South, "impelled there by the rage many voters were feeling at the time" about the MPs' expenses scandal, had persuaded her to stand.

"They were tremendously welcoming, people in the street really took me by the hand and basically asked me to stand," she said.

"Political experts have told me I would be crazy to stand, that I haven't a hope in hell, that it will lead to humiliation and embarrassment on my part but the people have said: 'Go for it'."

She said she would be giving up "broadcasting opportunities" to run, she told the BBC, adding that being an MP was "one of the most important jobs you can do in Britain".

Floating voter

"I'm not for one moment thinking this is going to be be easy on any level, no adventure ever is but if it's worthwhile achieving I think it's worth the risk."

She added she was "old enough, ugly enough and tough enough to stand a bit of humiliation" should she lose.

If you're going to stand as an anti-sleaze candidate, surely it would make most sense to stand against an actual wrongdoer
Nigel Huddleston
Conservative prospective Parliamentary candidate

She would not say if she had been asked by any of the main parties to stand as their candidate, adding she had been a floating voter all her life and would find it hard to follow a party whip.

Nigel Huddleston, who is due to fight the contest for the Conservatives, said only a vote for the Tories would "guarantee change" by ousting the government.

"That Ms Rantzen continues to be so interested in Luton - where she has no apparent links and even though Margaret Moran is standing down - has surprised many Lutonians," he added.

"If you're going to stand as an anti-sleaze candidate, surely it would make most sense to stand against an actual wrongdoer. They are hardly in short supply."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has to call the next general election by next June.

At the 2005 general election Labour MP Ms Moran won with a majority of 5,650.

Following weeks of revelations in the Daily Telegraph about claims MPs had made on their second homes expenses, Ms Moran was effectively deselected by her party.

A Labour scrutiny panel ruled she, Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Ian Gibson and Jim Devine could not stand for the party again.

Announcing she would step down she said she had "done nothing wrong or dishonest" and always followed advice from the Commons Fees Office.

But she said the "understandable anger" at the expenses claims had had "a bruising effect" on her and her family.

Since the expenses revelations were published more than 20 MPs have said they will stand down at the next election.

Ms Rantzen recently courted controversy on BBC One's Question Time when she made a remark about people in Northern Ireland being "addicted to hatred" - following a spate of attacks on Romanians in Belfast.

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