One of the things that I have long since admired about the United Kingdom General elections, has been the uniquely British habit of allowing eccentric individuals to stand to be elected as Members of Parliament. To be fair I do not recall a single case where anyone of these people has actually been successful. I suppose it is part of the British psyche, that we like to now and again wave two fingers as it were to convention and the norm. Interestingly I have not seen anyone standing in these elections, maybe it is because the the whole Brexit debacle has put people off, or maybe it is because the cost of standing has sky rocketed. My understanding is that to stand today it costs 500 quid. It used to cost back in the day 150 quid.
Back in the day, it was not uncommon for people who fancied a bit of a laugh to stump up the money with a whip around from their mates, and there you have it, suddenly the name is on the election form. The most famous and regular standee, was a gentleman who went by the name of Screaming Lord Sutch, or indeed David Sutch. He set up the Monster Raving Loony Party as a political institution in 1983, its purpose was simple, namely satirise the British political system, by establishing deliberately bizarre policies. It was also a platform for protest voters. Indeed very famously they actually won a seat in the local elections in Ashburton Town Council in Devon. When Alan “Howling Laud”
He made it his mission to cause as much stress as possible to the sitting Conservative members, he refused point blank to pay his poll tax, or the Community charge as it was known. In the end he dumped scrap metal in the middle of the Council chambers to the value of the sums that he owed in council tax. Amazingly two elected members have gone to become Mayors, Alan Hope in Ashburn and Chris “Screwy”Driver on the Isle of Sheppey. Interestingly members of the Monster Raving Loony Party, have fielded candidates at every election from 1983, to 2017. The most candidates standing was in 1997, Other candidates include, The Flying Brick, Bananaman Owen, Mad Cow Girl, Captain Chaplington-Smythe, Hairy Knorm Davidson, Sir Oink – A – Lot, Mad Hatter, Lady Lily Pink, Baron Von Thunderclap.
Iconic Sir Patrick Moore, the world famous astrologist was actually the finance Minister. He famously said that the Monster Raving Loony Party “ Had an advantage over all the other parties, in that they know they were players”. The party had at its prime 1,354 members with 173 being paid up members, coughing up 9.99p a year. Very sadly Screaming Lord Sutch died as a result of committing suicide by hanging on June 16th, 1999, he had battled manic depression throughout his life. His main career had been music, although his legacy is without doubt cocking a snoop at conventional party politics.
Maybe the tradition of British sarcasm seems to ebb and flow across the years, it is certainly not new, Punch the infamous satirical magazine was used as a real political weapon in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. Indeed some of the cartoons that produced were sheer brilliance, and frankly finished some political careers. Maybe, the reason that there are no political loonies standing at this election, is because at this moment in time there are enough loonies standing already. Or maybe I am just becoming an old cynic, answers on a postcard.