Friday, September 24, 1999 Published at 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Loonies choose cat as joint leader
Howling Laud Hope with some of his Loony aides
A cat called Mandu and its owner have been elected joint leaders of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
The four-year-old ginger tomcat and the party's deputy leader, publican Alan Hope, also known as Howling Lord Hope, were the only other candidate in the eccentric election.
The contest had been a tie but Mr Hope, as party chairman, had the casting vote.
He told BBC News Online: "It came down to a split decision as we had 125 votes each.
"As I was still chairman, I had the casting vote but I didn't want to vote for myself and I didn't want to vote for the cat.
"So our party will be the first in British politics to have a joint leadership."
The leadership battle follows the death of the party's founder and leader Screaming Lord Sutch, who committed suicide at his London home in June.
He said: "Only I can talk to my cat.
"He tells me when he wants feeding, he tells me when he wants to go out so he will be able to tell me all about what direction he wants the party to go in."
Mr Hope stood as the official Loony candidate in the Eddisbury by-election earlier this year.
In the course of that contest he advocated relocating Disneyland from Paris to cover the entire UK; substituting fox-hunting with chasing the Cheshire Cat on horseback instead; and joining the euro in order to turn the UK into an off-shore tax haven.
19th Loony get-together
The vote took place at the party's 19th conference, staged at Mr Hope's Golden Lion Hotel in Ashburton, south Devon.
Mr Hope, who assumed leadership of the party following Lord Sutch's suicide, has said the conference would be a sad occasion without the 58-year-old musician and maverick politician.
Lord Sutch was remembered at the start of the conference on Thursday not with a minute's silence, but with 60 seconds of screaming and shouting.
Over the years Loony party policies which had been laughed at became the law of the land - including abolition of the 11-plus, all-day pub opening, and passports for pets.
Mr Hope said: "Fifteen years ago everybody laughed at us for wanting passports for pets and one of the first things we do is to get the government to push that through as quickly as possible."
The party is spending the conference voting on a new manifesto which will be announced next week.
UK Politics Contents
A-Z of Parliament