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Official Monster Raving Loony Party

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party is a political party[2] established in the United Kingdom in 1983 by the musician David Sutch, also known as "Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow", or simply "Lord Sutch".[3] It is notable for its deliberately bizarre policies and it effectively exists to satirise British politics, and to offer itself as an alternative for protest voters, especially in constituencies where the party holding a safe seat is unlikely to lose it.

Official Monster Raving Loony Party
LeaderAlan "Howling Laud" Hope
FounderScreaming Lord Sutch
Founded1983 (1983)
Headquarters59 New Barn Close, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 5HU
Membership1,434[1]
IdeologyPolitical satirism
Big tent
Populism
Political position"Sitting, facing forward"
ColoursYellow and black
Website
loonyparty.com

HistoryEdit

Sutch eraEdit

Starting in 1963, David Sutch, head of the rock group Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages, stood in British parliamentary elections under a range of party names, initially as the National Teenage Party candidate. At that time the minimum voting age was 21. The party's name was intended to highlight what Sutch and others viewed as hypocrisy, since teenagers were unable to vote because of their supposed immaturity while the adults running the country were involved in scandals such as the Profumo affair.

After being shot during a mugging attempt whilst living in the United States, Sutch returned to Britain and to politics during the 1980s. The "Raving Loony" name first appeared at the Bermondsey by-election of 1983.

A similar concept had appeared earlier in the "Election Night Special" sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which the Silly and Sensible parties competed, and a similar skit by The Goodies, in which Graeme Garden stood as a "Science Loony". There had also been a "Science Fiction Looney" candidate competing in the 1976 Cambridge by-election.

Two others were important in the formation of the OMRLP. John Desmond Dougrez-Lewis stood in the Crosby by-election of 1981 (won by the Social Democratic Party's co-founder Shirley Williams). Dougrez-Lewis stood in the by-election as "Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel", taken from the Election Night Special Monty Python sketch. He had changed his name by deed poll from John Desmond Lewis, on behalf of the Cambridge University Raving Loony Society (CURLS). CURLS were an "anti-political party" and charity fundraising group formed largely as a fun counter-response to increasingly polarised student politics in Cambridge, and they were responsible for a number of fun stunts. Their Oxford University equivalents were the "Oxford Raving Lunatics". Dougrez-Lewis became Sutch's agent at the notorious Bermondsey by-election mentioned above, where the OMRLP banner was first officially unfurled. Reverting to his original name, Dougrez-Lewis stood for the new party in Cambridge in the 1983 general election.[4]

Another serial offbeat by-election candidate was Commander Bill Boaks, a retired World War II hero who took part in sinking the Bismarck. Boaks campaigned and stood for election for over thirty years[5] on limited funds, always on the issue of road safety. Boaks proved influential on Sutch's direction as the leading anti-politician: "It's the ones who don't vote you really want, because they're the ones who think".[citation needed]

Boaks thought that increased traffic and more roads would cause problems, and he addressed road safety with flamboyant campaigning and a variety of tactics, including private prosecution of public figures who escaped public prosecution for drunk driving.[citation needed] He successfully campaigned with Sutch and others to pedestrianise London's Carnaby Street.[6] While recovering from being struck by a motorcycle, Boaks was one of Sutch's counting agents at Bermondsey in 1983. Following Boaks' death, popular opinion towards road safety has become closer to his views.

Screaming Lord Sutch committed suicide on 16 June 1999 while suffering from clinical depression after his mother, Annie, died in 1998.[7] A biography of Sutch, The Man Who Was Screaming Lord Sutch (by Graham Sharpe, the Media Relations Manager for bookmakers William Hill), was published in April 2005, describing what remained of the party as "wannabes, never-would-bes and some bloody-well-shouldn't-bes".[8]

Post SutchEdit

Sutch's funeral – organised by his lifetime friend, the session drummer Carlo Little – was attended by members of the OMRLP and RLGGP, including Hughes, who with Freddie Zapp brought along a huge floral tribute shaped as an OMRLP rosette. The running of the OMRLP fell to Alan "Howling Laud" Hope and his cat, Catmando, who were the joint winners of the 1999 membership ballot for the replacement for Sutch.[9] Although Hope took over as Party Leader after Sutch's death, the real day-to-day running of the party has always been done by other party members.

The OMRLP fielded 15 candidates in the 2001 general election, at which they had their best general election results to date.

The manifesto, entitled "The Manicfesto", for the 2005 general election featured the major commitment of their long held pledge to abolish income tax, citing as always that it was only meant to be a temporary measure during the Napoleonic Wars.[10] Also included was another old staple, the "Putting Parliament on Wheels" idea of having Parliament sit throughout the country rather than solely in London—with special emphasis this time in its creation negating the need for national/regional assemblies.[10]

The OMRLP has fielded candidates since 2001, with reduced success and losing their deposit. "Top Cat" Owen is the only member of the current OMRLP to poll over 1,000 votes (he polled 2,859 votes in the 1994 European elections).

The OMRLP's official headquarters was originally the Golden Lion Hotel in Ashburton, Devon, then the Dog & Partridge pub at Yateley in Hampshire, but this was lost shortly after the 2005 general election. Conference venues are now chosen in advance: the 2006 conference was held at Torrington in Devon, and the 2007 conference was held in Jersey.

The party's last elected representative was R. U. Seerius (formerly Jon Brewer) on the 11 member Sawley Parish Council in South Derbyshire, first elected (uncontested) in 2005. He was no longer a member as of May 2007, having failed to appear in no less than 11 statutory meetings during his time in office, due to illness.[11]

The OMRLP succeeded in standing in the two by-elections of 19 July 2007 in Sedgefield and Ealing Southall, but again achieving derisory results: Alan Hope acquiring 129 votes (0.46%) and John Cartwright taking 188 (0.51%), beating the English Democrats but coming behind the Christian Party of the Reverend George Hargreaves and David Braid.[12][13]

In recognition that reforms were needed, Peter 'T.C.' Owen was moved from the honorary position of Party chairman to that of Deputy Leader (& thus effective day-to-day leader) of the OMRLP, whilst Anthony "The Jersey Flyer" Blyth (owner of the Ommaroo and a member of the Jersey Heritage Trust) took over Owen's role. Owen is one of four Raving Loonies to have scored over 1000 votes in an election.

On 31 May 2017 Hope was interviewed by Andrew Neil on the BBC's Daily Politics programme.[14]

Electoral performanceEdit

In 1987, the OMRLP won its first seat on Ashburton Town Council in Devon, as Alan "Howling Laud" Hope was elected unopposed. He subsequently became Deputy Mayor and later Mayor of Ashburton in 1998 (mainly opposed by the local Conservatives; they never forgave him for becoming a member of the OMRLP)[citation needed] until he moved to Hampshire after Sutch's death. For over a decade, his hotel "The Golden Lion" in Ashburton (referred to by some in the party as "The Mucky Mog") was the party's headquarters and conference centre.

The first party member to win a vote, rather than an uncontested election, was Stuart Hughes, taking the "safe" Conservative Party seat of Sidmouth Woolbrook on East Devon District Council in May 1991. He also took a seat on Sidmouth Town Council from the Conservatives the following day. His success was met with hostility from the local Tories. Hughes' reaction was to attempt to make their lives a misery for the next three years by refusing to pay his Community Charge (popularly known as the Poll Tax), then dumping scrap metal in the middle of the council chambers to the value of his unpaid tax when threatened with legal action. He also formed an alliance known as "The Coastals" (because of the seats they held) of Independents and the sole Green Party councillor, giving East Devon's ruling Conservatives the first true opposition they had faced for decades (the local Liberal Democrat and Labour parties being negligible).

Hughes retained his seats with increased majorities in subsequent elections, and took the Devon County Council seat from the local party's Chief Whip in the council.[15]

To date, two councillors have subsequently become mayors: Alan Hope in Ashburton, Devon and Chris "Screwy" Driver on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

At the Bootle by-election in May 1990, the Loony candidate (Sutch) received more votes than the candidate for the continuing Social Democrats. The story was a major headline in many UK newspapers; ironically, the by-election itself had attracted little coverage. Bootle is still regarded by the party as their most significant result in politics.[16] albeit one largely lampooning the political world.

In the 2019 Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, the OMRLP candidate Lady Lily the Pink polled more votes than the United Kingdom Independence Party.[17]

General electionsEdit

Election Candidates Votes % of votes
1983 11 3,105 0.0
1987 5 1,951 0.0
1992 25 7,929 0.1
1997 24 7,906 0.0
2001 15 6,655 0.0
2005 19 6,311 0.0
2010 27 7,510 0.0
2015 27 3,898 0.0
2017 12 3,890 0.0

By-electionsEdit

48th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
1983 Bermondsey by-election David Sutch 97 0.3
1983 Darlington by-election David Sutch 374 0.7

49th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
1983 Penrith and The Border by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 412 1.1
1984 Chesterfield by-election David Sutch 178 0.3
1985 Brecon and Radnor by-election David Sutch 202 0.5
1986 Fulham by-election David Sutch 134 0.4
1986 Newcastle-under-Lyme by-election David Sutch 277 0.7

50th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
1988 Kensington by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 61 0.3
1988 Glasgow Govan by-election Lord Sutch 174 0.6
1988 Epping Forest by-election David Sutch 208 0.6
1989 Richmond (Yorks) by-election David "Lord" Sutch 167 0.3
1989 Vale of Glamorgan by-election David Sutch 266 0.5
1989 Vauxhall by-election "Lord" David Sutch 106 0.4
1990 Mid Staffordshire by-election Lord David Sutch 336 0.6
May 1990 Bootle by-election Lord David Sutch 418 1.2
1990 Knowsley South by-election David Sutch 197 0.9
November 1990 Bootle by-election Lord David Sutch 310 1.1
1990 Bradford North by-election Wild Willi Beckett 210 0.6
1991 Ribble Valley by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 278 0.6
1991 Neath by-election David Sutch 263 0.8
1991 Monmouth by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 314 0.7
1991 Liverpool Walton by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 546 1.4

51st Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
1993 Newbury by-election Lord David Sutch 432 0.7
1993 Christchurch by-election David Sutch 404 0.8
1994 Rotherham by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 1,114 4.2
1994 Bradford South by-election David Sutch 727 2.4
1994 Eastleigh by-election David Sutch 783 1.4
1995 Islwyn by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 506 2.2
1995 Perth and Kinross by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 586 1.4
1995 Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 782 1.9
1996 Hemsworth by-election David Sutch 652 3.0
1996 South East Staffordshire by-election David Sutch 506 1.2

52nd Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
1997 Uxbridge by-election Screaming Lord Sutch 396 1.3
1997 Winchester by-election Lord David Sutch 316 0.6
1999 Eddisbury by-election Alan Hope 238 0.7
1999 Kensington and Chelsea by-election Howling Laud Hope 20 0.1

53rd Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
2002 Ogmore by-election Leslie Edwards 187 1.0
2003 Brent East by-election Alan Hope 59 0.3
2004 Leicester South by-election R. U. Seerius 225 0.8
2004 Hartlepool by-election Alan Hope 80 0.3

54th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
2006 Blaenau Gwent by-elections Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 318 1.2
2006 Bromley and Chislehurst by-election John Cartwright 132 0.5
2007 Ealing Southall by-election John Cartwright 188 0.5
2007 Sedgefield by-election Alan Hope 129 0.5
2008 Crewe and Nantwich by-election The Flying Brick 236 0.6
2008 Henley by-election Bananaman Owen 242 0.7
2008 Haltemprice and Howden by-election Mad Cow-Girl 412 1.7
2009 Norwich North by-election Alan Hope 144 0.4

55th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
2011 Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election Nick "The Flying Brick" Delves 145 0.4
2011 Barnsley Central by-election Howling Laud Hope 198 0.8
2011 Leicester South by-election Howling Laud Hope 553 1.6
2012 Bradford West by-election Howling Laud Hope 111 0.3
2012 Croydon North by-election John Cartwright 110 0.4
2012 Manchester Central by-election Howling Laud Hope 78 0.5
2013 Eastleigh by-election Howling Laud Hope 136 0.3
2013 South Shields by-election Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 197 0.8
2014 Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election Captain Chaplington-Smythe 288 1.2
2014 Newark by-election Nick The Flying Brick 168 0.4
2014 Clacton by-election Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 127 0.4
2014 Rochester and Strood by-election Hairy Knorm Davidson 151 0.4

56th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
2015 Oldham West and Royton by-election Sir Oink A-Lot 141 0.5
2016 Tooting by-election Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 54 0.2
2016 Witney by-election Mad Hatter 129 0.3
2016 Richmond Park by-election Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 184 0.5
2017 Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election The Incredible Flying Brick 127 0.6

57th Parliament

Election Candidate Votes % of votes
2018 Lewisham East by-election Howling Laud Hope 93 0.4
2019 Peterborough by-election Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 112 0.3
2019 Brecon and Radnorshire by-election Lady Lily Pink 334 1.0

Parish councillorsEdit

As of 2019, the party has two parish councillors.

Councillor Council
Howling Laud Hope (Cllr Alan Hope)[18] Fleet Town Council, Hampshire
Baron Von Thunderclap[19] Bolney Parish, Sussex

2010 William Hill brandingEdit

For the 2010 general election, the OMRLP used the description "Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party",[20] which was met with criticism by some members,[citation needed] with John Cartwright, Loony candidate in Croydon, publicly stating, "I am not and will not be a mercenary, or an advert, for a commercial company during the course of the election campaign."[21]

MembershipEdit

The statement of accounts for the period 1 January to 31 December 2008[22] outlines membership at 1,354, made of 173 paying members and 1,181 "lifetime but non-paying". It currently costs £9.99 per year for membership, although a £19.99 membership with included T-shirt is also offered.

Sir Patrick Moore (1923–2012), the British TV amateur astronomer, was the finance minister of the party for a short time. He once said that the Monster Raving Loony Party "had an advantage over all the other parties, in that they knew they were loonies."[23]

In 1992, the Glasgow band Hugh Reed and the Velvet Underpants released the song "Vote Monster Raving Looney", despite not having any actual ties to the party.

Policies and electoral strategyEdit

The OMRLP are distinguished by having a deliberately bizarre manifesto, which contains things that seem to be impossible or too absurd to implement – usually to highlight what they see as real-life absurdities. Despite its satirical nature, some of the things that have featured in Loony manifestos have become law, such as being able to vote at 18, "passports for pets", abolition of dog licences and all-day pub openings.[24]

Other suggestions so far unadopted included minting a 99p coin and forbidding greyhound racing in order to “stop the country going to the dogs”.[16]

The Loonies generally field as many candidates as possible in United Kingdom general elections, some (but by no means all) standing under ridiculous names they have adopted via deed poll. Sutch himself stood against all three main party leaders (John Major, Neil Kinnock and Paddy Ashdown) in the 1992 general election. Parliamentary candidates have to pay their own deposit (which currently stands at £500) and cover all of their expenses. No OMRLP candidate has managed to get the required 5% of the popular vote needed to retain their deposit, but this does not stop people standing. Sutch came closest with 4.1% and over a thousand votes at the Rotherham by-election, whilst Stuart Hughes still holds the record for the largest number of votes for a Loony candidate at a Parliamentary election, with 1,442 at the 1992 general election in the Honiton seat in east Devon. The all-time highest vote achieved was by comedian Danny Bamford aka Danny Blue, who secured 3,339 votes in the 1994 European elections under the pseudonym of "John Major". Bamford had also acted as an election agent for Lindi St Clair's rival Corrective Party, and was a former close associate of Stuart Hughes.

In the run-up to the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum, the party adopted an equivocal stance, advising its supporters, on 8 April, to "vote as you see fit".[25] In response to mainstream parties debating Brexit, the OMRLP suggested sending Noel Edmonds to the European Parliament "because he understands Deal or No Deal".[17]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Official Monster Raving Loony Party : Membership". Loonyparty.com. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  2. ^ http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/English/Registrations/PP66
  3. ^ "Screaming Lord Sutch – History & Timeline". The Loony Archive. Archived from the original on 26 August 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Statement of persons nominated and notice of poll". Cambridge University Raving Looney Society. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Is This The Worst Election Candidate Ever?". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  6. ^ Hemming, Henry (2 April 2009). "In Search of the English Eccentric". Hodder & Stoughton. Retrieved 13 February 2019 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "BBC News | UK | Suicide verdict on Sutch". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  8. ^ Sharpe, Graham (2005). The Man Who Was Screaming Lord Sutch. Aurum Press. ISBN 1-85410-983-9.
  9. ^ "Loony's Past R I P". Loonyparty.com. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  10. ^ a b "2005 GENERAL ELECTION MANIFESTO". Loonyparty.com. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Latest news". Sawleyparishcouncil.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  12. ^ Wells, Anthony. "Sedgefield". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  13. ^ Wells, Anthony. "Ealing Southall". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Monster Raving Loony Party is 'ahead of our time' says leader". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Councillor details – Councillor Stuart Hughes". 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  16. ^ a b Chakelian, Anoosh. "What are the Monster Raving Loony Party's election plans?". Newstatesman. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Ukip beaten by Monster Raving Loony party at by-election". The Independent. 2 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Fleet Town Council – Councillor Contact Details". Fleet-tc.gov.uk. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  19. ^ https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/media/3984/may-2019-parish-council-bolney-uncontested.pdf
  20. ^ "The Official Monster Raving Loony Party; Vote For Insanity". Loonyparty.com. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  21. ^ Cardiff Central Retrospective, The Annual Report and Continuing Manifesto – MMX Edition p. 23, Pocket Propaganda Press, Cardiff. ISSN 2045-1660.
  22. ^ "Official Monster Raving Loony Party Statement of Accounts 1 January – 31 December 2008" (PDF). Electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2014.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Obituary: Patrick Moore". BBC News UK. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  24. ^ Edwards, Brian (6 May 2015). "7 Monster Raving Loony Party policies which are now part of UK law". Mirror. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  25. ^ "AV? | The Official Monster Raving Loony Party". Loonyparty.com. Retrieved 12 July 2014.

BibliographyEdit

  • Life As Sutch – Lord David Sutch (ghost written by Peter Chippendale), Angus & Robertson 1991 (Expanded Edition 1992) ISBN 0-207-17240-4

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit