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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 04:13 GMT 05:13 UK

UK Politics

Loony with a line in politics

Lord Sutch and fellow Loonies making their presence felt

Screaming Lord Sutch, who has died at his home, may go down in history for telling the nation to "Vote for insanity" - but some of his less loony policies have found their way to the statute books.

David Sutch, 58, founded the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in 1963, having added Lord to his name by deed poll. He appeared at more than 40 by-elections in top hat and gold lamé suit.

His outrageous policies were blared through a rusty loudhailer to anyone who would listen.

Never shy in public, he appeared at a Walthamstow by-election clad only in swimming trunks. But his vote-catching stunt was unsuccessful, and he lost the seat.

Beneath his often ridiculed exterior, however, there lurked a more serious political animal. Several of his policies were adopted by the governments of the day.

They include:

  • Passports for pets
  • Votes at 18
  • All-day Sunday pub opening
  • Licensing for commercial radio (adopted as policy before any other party)
  • Abolition of the 11-plus entrance exam for schoolchildren.

Lord Sutch also wanted to know why there was only one Monopolies Commission, but did not manage to force through any changes on this issue.

But, of course, his reputation would not have been complete without some rather more outrageous policies.

He took great pleasure in sending up the political process. Campaigning under the slogan: "Vote for insanity - you know it makes sense", his party policies include:

  • Banning work before lunchtime "because it's far too difficult"
  • Abolishing January and February to make winter shorter
  • Turning the butter mountain into a ski slope for Eddie the Eagle
  • Breeding fish in the wine lake so they come out ready pickled
  • A Scottish Parliament on wheels
  • Putting joggers and the unemployed on a gigantic treadmill to generate cheap electricity
  • Backing British beef throughout the mad cow disease crisis. "I've been eating it for years and look at me," he said
  • Diverting the Channel tunnel to Jersey to make the whole of the United Kingdom an offshore tax haven

Perhaps Lord Sutch's greatest political success came at the Bootle by-election in 1990. He shamed Lord Owen's Social Democrats by achieving a higher rating in the poll.

He has also managed to overtake the Welsh nationalists in a by-election.

In a stab at the Tory leadership, he paid £10 to join the party so he could challenge former leader Margaret Thatcher. But he failed to get the requisite nominations.

[ image: Lord Sutch and a party member exchange views]
Lord Sutch and a party member exchange views
Another ruse involved sending £5m in notes printed by the Loony Party to the football authorities for him to manage the England team. He was turned down.

Lord Sutch led a double life, and was devoted to his career as a rock singer.

He and his rock'n'roll band played concerts up and down the country to help pay for his election deposits of £500 each. They played more than 250 gigs during his political career.

Despite the election deposits rising from £150 to £500 in 1985, he remained undeterred.

Personal difficulties

But beneath the laughs his private life was dogged by depression and debt.

He lost a huge sum of money in forfeited election deposits. In 1995, he narrowly escaped bankruptcy with debts of £194,000.

His partner, Yvonne Elwood, said he had struggled with a long battle against depression for many years.

According to his friend Alan Hope, who became the first Loony mayor at Ashburton in Devon, Lord Sutch was taking anti-depressants to try and combat his illness.

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Internet Links

Official Monster Raving Loony Party

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