By Kerry McDermott
In the summer of 2009 ducks - or more specifically duck houses - were a touchy subject in Westminster.
But several months later one duck making regular appearances around London is proving to be a hit with the public.
Mad Cap'n Tom wants to be the first pirate in parliament
This duck is of the toy variety, and attached to a tricorn hat worn by Mad Cap'n Tom - one of the more eccentric parliamentary candidates standing for election in England on 6 May.
While the main political parties have clashed over the economic recovery and electoral reform, Cap'n Tom is hoping his pledge to scrap tax on rum will help him become the first pirate elected to parliament.
Unorthodox it may be, but Cap'n Tom's manifesto has helped him to win almost 5,000 supporters on the social networking site Facebook, along with nearly 2,000 followers on Twitter.
His other policies include training schoolchildren in "swordsmanship and gunnery", and fixing broken Britain by handing out free rolls of duct tape.
The pirate, who is standing in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency, has said he would use money raised from a 50% levy on all downloads of Cheryl Cole songs to fund his plans.
"I can't stand her music," he explained.
Despite his growing following Cap'n Tom rates his chances of success in the safe Conservative seat as: "Somewhere 'twixt a snowball's chance in hell an' zero."
But a pragmatic outlook has not stopped the pirate - real name Tom Scott - taking time out from sailing the high seas to campaign in the constituency, where he said the response had been "wonderful".
"I be gettin' smiles an' laughs from all round th' constituency," he said.
"Except in the City. Somehow bankers an' other folks in suits not be appreciatin' a bloke wi' a duck on his head."
'Bono for pope'
Other fringe candidates include Lord Biro, the sole representative of the Bus Pass Elvis Party.
Dave Bishop said he was confident of getting at least two votes
Lord Biro - also known as Dave Bishop - is standing in Kettering, where he is hoping to win over voters with pledges ranging from preserving public lavatories to backing U2 frontman Bono for pope.
Mr Bishop, who dons a pair of Elvis-style sunglasses when out and about in the constituency, is no stranger to campaigning, having previously stood for election in 1997, 2001 and 2005.
"I've been out campaigning every day," he said.
"I've taken some abuse, but I've had quite a lot of laughs as well. A lot of people seem to like my Bono for pope policy."
When asked whether he was confident of support at the ballot box Mr Bishop said: "I'm not sure to be honest. I've definitely got two votes as far as I know.
"I think the fringe candidates will be squeezed out because all the focus is on the three main parties."
Elsewhere across England John Crockford is standing as the Fancy Dress Party candidate in Dartford.
The Monster Raving Loony Party is also fielding candidates in 25 English constituencies, including Baron Von Thunderclap in Sussex Mid, and Monkey the Drummer in Kingston and Surbiton.
Candidates announced for Cities of London and Westminster are: Independent: Mad Cap'n Tom; Green Party: Derek Chase; Independent: Dennis Delderfield; Conservative: Mark Field; Pirate Party UK: Jack Nunn; English Democrats: Frank Roseman; Labour: David Rowntree; Liberal Democrat: Naomi Smith; UK Independence Party: Paul Weston.
Candidates announced for Kettering are: Bus Pass Elvis Party: Dave Bishop; English Democrats: Derek Hilling; Conservative: Philip Hollobone; Liberal Democrat: Chris Nelson; Labour: Phil Sawford; British National Party: Clive Skinner.