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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Monkey mascot elected mayor
Stuart Drummond, alias H'Angus the Monkey
The monkey won on a "free bananas" platform
H'Angus the Monkey has been elected mayor of Hartlepool in a victory for the mascot of the town's football team.

H'Angus, also known as Stuart Drummond, beat off opposition from the main political parties to land the 53,000-a-year job as local talisman.


It is only to be expected that new faces come to the fore

Downing Street

The mascot's vote-winning slogan was "free bananas for schoolchildren".

Despite the embarrassment Downing Street insisted that elected mayors were "the way forward".

Hartlepool's residents are famously said to have hanged a monkey during the Napoleonic wars because they thought it was a French spy.

Sex simulation

Mr Drummond is well-known in the town for his frolics as mascot for Hartlepool United Football Club, nicknamed the Monkey Hangers by their rivals.

He has been thrown out of two away games, once when he simulated sex with a woman steward in Scunthorpe in 2000 and a year ago for his antics with an inflatable doll at Blackpool.

Mayor results
Labour win Doncaster, Newham, Lewisham
Lib Dems win Watford
"H'Angus The Monkey" elected in Hartlepool
Tories win North Tyneside
How the 28-year-old will handle his new responsibilities in running the local council has yet to be seen.

After the victory, he stressed other education policies and youth issues would take precedence over the "free bananas" pledge. He also plans to quit his mascot job.

"I am just a normal guy off the street, listening to the views of the public and I am the voice of the public," he said.

Monkey magic?

"I haven't got a big party backing me and I have been using the monkey to promote myself, promote my campaign.

"I haven't tried to make a mockery of anybody - I believe that the mayor should be independent, as I am.

"Over 60% of the vote was for an independent, so the public obviously believes that as well. It is just going to be a positive step forward for Hartlepool," he told BBC News 24.

But such serious talk from Mr Drummond failed to put off a newspaper journalist dressed as a gorilla, who chased the new mayor as he posed for photographs at the town's quay.

He declined the reporter's offer of a banana and walked away.


Obviously we will have to weigh it all up

Charles Clarke
Labour Party chairman

Downing Street appeared to be philosophical over the whole monkey business.

A spokesman said: "It is only to be expected that new faces come to the fore."

But Labour chairman Charles Clarke said the monkey mascot's success was "a serious issue".

The government might have to think again about the system of directly-elected mayors, he said.

While there had been a positive mayoral result in Doncaster, where the Labour candidate won, "the other end of it is the other guy elected in Hartlepool, the one in the monkey suit, who ridicules the whole system", he said.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Obviously we will have to weigh it all up ... but again like all these experiments, they are designed to encourage better ways of looking at local government and that is what we will continue to try to do."

"Superficial"

Hartlepool's MP, former Labour cabinet minister Peter Mandelson was among the crowd left watching as euphoria reigned among monkey supporters.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said Mr Drummond's victory in Hartlepool highlighted the shortcomings in the system of directly-elected mayors.

"We were against the idea of directly-elected mayors because we thought they allowed for gimmicks and superficial characters to succeed and we were clearly proved right," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"Populist politics allow for populist solutions and the mayoral idea allows for that above all."

Mayor rejected

Three more areas - Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and Hackney in east London - voted in referendums to have their own elected mayors.

The idea was rejected, however, in Oxford.

Voters in six other areas were voting for directly elected mayors.

The Lib Dems notched up the mayoral victory in Watford, while Labour had their candidates elected in Newham and Doncaster and Lewisham.

In Middlesbrough Ray Mallon - dubbed 'Robocop - won against Labour.

And in North Tyneside where Local Government Secretary Stephen Byers cut his political teeth, Conservative Chris Morgan beat off Labour's Eddie Darke to take the Mayor's office by 26,083 votes to 24,531.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mayor of Hartlepool Stuart Drummond
"I've used monkey solely for promotional purposes"

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See also:

04 Apr 02 | England
03 May 02 | UK Politics
03 May 02 | UK Politics
03 May 02 | UK Politics
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