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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
'I'm chief Monster Raving Loony, seriously '
Howlin' Laud Hope with Monster Raving Loonies
Howlin' Laud Hope (r) has taken up where Lord Sutch left off
As the Official Monster Raving Loony Party holds it annual conference, its leader Howlin' Laud Hope says his political ambitions are no laughing matter.

I'm joint party leader, but sadly my co-leader - Cat Mandu - was hit by a car two months ago. He was a pub cat and not afraid of cars.

We should make the signs for asylums bigger, to help asylum seekers

We'll hold a memorial for him at the party conference and it's on the agenda about whether we want to elect another cat.

Other than that we haven't planned anything for the meeting. We've tried planning before and it doesn't work. So it'll be spontaneous, we get some quite good ideas that way.

Anybody with sense can see the sense in us. We don't want to run the government, but if we can get just one Loony into Parliament it will make the other members think: 'Where are we going wrong?'

Lord Sutch
Lord Sutch's party still has a serious message
People misunderstand us until they look into what we do. We can say things that other people, other politicians, only think. Underneath our aims are pretty serious, even if we set about achieving them in a jolly way.

We were the first party to suggest pet passports. We said if people go abroad their pet should be allowed to travel too. Everyone laughed. Now you can get pet passports.

One of our old manifestoes said we should put the butter mountain to good use and let people ski down it. That made people smile, but also think about why we were creating all these food mountains and wine lakes.

One dog per fox would make foxhunting fairer - the use of Dachshunds would even the odds considerably

When I left school in 1957, I became a rock 'n' roll singer and met Screaming Lord Sutch.

He formed the National Teenage Party which advocated votes for 18-year-olds, since the minimum age was then 21. You could be killed in a war, but you couldn't vote.

The party also wanted to allow commercial radio stations to break the BBC's stranglehold because the BBC wouldn't play rock 'n' roll.

We were also against the 11 plus exam - which by deciding if you went to grammar school or not, decided what sort of person you could be at too early an age as far was we were concerned.

Screaming Lord Sutch at 10 Downing Street
Lord Sutch: UK's longest serving party leader
A mainstream politician was asked what he thought of these policies. He said: 'They're nothing more than the ravings of a lunatic.'

All of these policies came about, so in 1977 we formed the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. ('Offical' so as not to be confused with the unoffical loony parties - the Tories, Liberals and Labour.)

We have 130,000 members worldwide, I'd say. Lord Sutch would hand out honorary membership to anyone who expressed an interest - so we're not sure of an exact number.

If we do go to war with Iraq, Saddam and Blair should fight it out in a boxing ring

Howlin' Laud Hope
I've taken over as leader since Lord Sutch's death. I wish he wasn't dead, but life must go on despite the sadness.

He hanged himself on my birthday - he knew it was my birthday because he always sent me a card. I'd like to think it was a message to me saying: 'Go on, get on with it.'

Back when I was looking for a suitable political persona, my wife bought me a small statue of Winston Churchill wearing a white suit.

Churchill was our hero, so I decided to get a white suit like his - only I ended up looking more like Boss Hogg from the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.

Howlin' Laud Hope
More Boss Hogg than Churchill
That's quite fitting though. He was Mayor of Hazzard and I was voted mayor of my town in Devon. Neither of us should have held office.

When Sorrel Booke, the actor who played Boss Hogg, died I wrote to the TV company in America saying they should write me into the show as Boss Hogg's English cousin. I never heard back from them.

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See also:

17 Jun 99 | Politics
24 Sep 99 | Politics
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