Oddly Enough - UK Reuters
Loony Party promotes insanity vote
Sat Sep 28, 4:54 AM ET
By Georgina Prodhan
LONDON (Reuters) - As the main political parties hold their weighty
annual conferences, the official lunatic fringe is meeting in the Dog
and Partridge pub for a very different convention.
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party has been bringing flamboyant
madness to the political scene for almost 20 years, and this year's
annual conference in the genteel Hampshire town of Yateley, is no
Friday saw a "cabinet" reshuffle. "That basically consisted of us all
standing in a cabinet and being shuffled. It fell to bits so now
there's a cabinet split," leader Alan "Howling Laud" Hope told
Reuters by phone from the pub, where he is the landlord.
The Loony Party -- called "Official" to distinguish it from what the
party calls the "unofficial loony" ruling Labour and opposition
Conservative and Liberal parties -- was founded by the late
David "Screaming Lord" Sutch in 1983.
Intending to rattle the self-importance of mainstream parties, one-
time rock musician Sutch in his trademark top hat and leopard-skin
coat contested 39 elections, and lost them all.
But he delighted a public increasingly disillusioned with politics,
adopting unlikely policies and the slogan: "Vote for Insanity -- You
know it makes sense!"
On Friday, the party's manifesto collator, who delights in the name
of "R.U. Seerius", was mulling a variety of proposals in preparation
for a general election in 2005.
"Whereas in other parties you have to be a member, with us anyone can
send one in," Seerius told Reuters from the pub where some 30 loyal
members have been meeting since Thursday with a determined lack of
Policies included improving rail safety by tying a cushion to the
front of trains and teaching paintball in schools.
But Loony policies do exist on more serious issues.
"We're not going to join the euro," Seerius said, referring to the
debate over whether Britain should join Europe's single
currency. "We're going to invite all the other countries to join the
But among past proposals such as turning Europe's 1980s butter
surplus -- or "butter mountain" as it was known -- into a ski slope,
some came to look less silly as time went on.
Lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, legalising commercial radio in
Britain and the abolition of dog licences were Loony policies that
made it onto the statutes.
Sutch committed suicide in 1999, shocking a public who had only seen
his buffoonish side.
"He was nothing like you imagined. He didn't drink, he didn't smoke,
he didn't swear," said Hope.
"He was very, very quiet, he was a gentleman," he added, saying he
would carry on Sutch's tradition with this year's conference -- "a
giant step backward for mankind".