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Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK

UK Politics

Loony tradition continues at by-election

Screaming Lord Sutch contested more than 40 by-elections

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party will be contesting the Eddisbury by-election.

Alan Hope, the party's deputy leader, will stand in the by-election to maintain the tradition established by Screaming Lord Sutch, who was found hanged at his home last month.

Mr Hope will contest the Eddisbury by-election on 22 July.

The seat was made vacant by the resignation of the sitting MP Sir Alastair Goodlad, who is to become the High Commissioner in Australia.

Ironic timing

Mr Hope told BBC News Online: "We are going to fight the by-election to keep the name going.

"It would be a fitting tribute to Screaming Lord Sutch and it will keep his spirit going, he was our spiritual leader.

[ image: Sir Alastair Goodlad: Resigned to take up new post]
Sir Alastair Goodlad: Resigned to take up new post
"It's almost ironic that a by-election came along so quickly."

The Conservatives picked their candidate Stephen O'Brien on Tuesday while Labour and Liberal Democrats have still to select who will contest the seat for them.

Mr Hope, who is considering changing his name to Howling Laud Hope, already holds office as the mayor of Ashburton in Devon.

He already owns his own election suit, to maintain the tradition of gold lamé and the top hat worn by Lord Sutch to brighten up more than 40 by-election counts.

Mr Hope has established his party's headquarters in a pub in Nantwich and will be talking to locals to establish his loony policies.

Despite contesting scores of by-elections, the party has never gained power at Westminster.

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.

Young loonies

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

The party is also aiming to maintain Lord Sutch's loony spirit through its own youth movement.

Oliver Hewitt, aged 13, has been made the chairman of the young loony movement.

Oliver, who describes himself as the "self-styled mini mayor of London", attended Lord Sutch's funeral in Harrow on Monday.

Mr Hope said: "He phoned me up after seeing us loonies at the funeral and we intrigued him.

"He's a bright boy and has in the past chained himself to the railings at Downing Street and raised a lot of money for charity."

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