As Mark Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t,” and this is one of those instances. As long as there have been politicians and political parties, there have always been myriad fringe and frivolous politicians and parties ranging with goals ranging from simply taking the piss to armed revolution. One of the most well-known is the UK’s Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Established in 1983 by cult musician David Sutch, better known by his stage name “Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow,” or “Lord Sutch” to his fans and friends. Akin to candidates such as Pat Paulsen and Vermin Supreme in the U.S, whose satirical campaigns were rooted in the idea that voters deserve better than what the mainstream has to offer, Sutch founded OMRLP to roast the political landscape of the UK.
Though originally founded to offer a protest vote to disenfranchised voters, and with its slogan “Vote For Insanity,” the OMRLP is easy to dismiss as – well – a bunchy of loonies. However, the party has a fascinating history and has remarkably introduced policy ideas which have actually become law in the UK without ever winning a seat in parliament.
Here are five facts about The Official Monster Raving Loony Party you did not know:
1.) Founder ‘Screaming Lord Sutch’ Was a 60s Pop Icon:
In the early 1960s, Lord Sutch enjoyed a stint as a pop icon under the tutelage of pioneering record producer Joe Meek. Sutch’s work is seen as a precursor to shock rock later mainstreamed by artists like Alice Cooper. Sutch sported long hair, donned stage make-up, dressed as Jack The Ripper on stage and utilized props such as fake knives and “dead” bodies. Though mainstream success eluded him, Sutch was respected by his contemporaries, and his 1970 album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends features collaborations with British rock icons Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins. Sutch’s biggest hit was his 1963 single “Jack The Ripper:”
2.) Lord Sutch Holds The Official Record For Most Lost Elections:
Lord Sutch’s history in politics began in 1963 when he represented the National Teenage Party. The NTP was a party formed to bring attention to the hypocritical policy that the minimum age to vote was 21, yet adult politicians continued to be involved in scandals, citing Secretary of State for War John Profumo’s affair with a 19-year-old. Sutch first stood as a “Raving Loony Party” candidate in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election. After Sutch’s last campaign in 1997, he held the record for losing more than 40 elections, a distinction he holds to this day.
3.) Sutch Had A Successor:
Party Leader David ‘Screaming Lord’ Sutch is said to have struggled with depression and, in 1999, following the death of his mum, committed suicide by hanging. Sutch was replaced by a long-time party member, and the only party member to have actually won an election, Alan “Howling Laud” Hope – along with Hope’s cat, the joint winner of the replacement ballot.
It is also worth noting that the election of Alan “Howling Laud” Hope to the Ashburton Town Council in Devon in 1987 resulted in a moral dilemma for the party as it had previously been decided that an electoral victory would result in party expulsion. The party rules were changed, however, and Hope remained in the party.
A 2005 biography of Sutch’s denounced remaining members of the OMRLP as “wannabes, never-would-bes and some bloody-well-shouldn’t-bes.”
4.) The OMRLP Had Two Splinter Parties:
You know that whole bit in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian with the People’s Front of Judea? Well… The Raving Loony Green Giant Party was founded in 1989 following a squabble over campaigning practices. A faction of the OMRLP began insisting that candidates campaign with the intention to win. The controversy which preceded the split occurred at a charity walk when certain members participated in only the start and finish of the walk as a form of protest before founding the breakaway RLGGP. The history of the party was defined by high-profile defections between the two parties as well as other members controversially holding membership in both parties as they waited to see which faction would emerge victorious. Several members of the RLGGP won district and town council elections and the party more or less dissolved after leader Stuart Hughes’ 1993 election to the Devon County Council.
The other splinter party of the OMRLP was The Rock ‘n’ Roll Loony Party. Founded in 2000 following Screaming Lord Sutch’s death, its “stated policies included free beer and sex for pensioners and the construction of laughter clinics.” Its leader Chris “Screwy” Driver was elected to the Queenborough Town Council as a OMRLP candidate and then as mayor of Queenborough under the banner of the RRLP. The party was dissolved in 2007.
5.) Despite No Seats In Parliament, Several Loony Policies Have Become Law:
Yes, the OMRLP has advocated largely impractical policies in their “manicfesto.” Here is the party’s 1987 platform:
- Turn Britain into the world’s biggest tax haven by driving the Channel Tunnel through the Channel Islands.
- Turn the whole country into a fun park, creating 8 million jobs.
- Ex-politicians would be employed as waiters so people could throw bread rolls at them.
- The constituency of ‘South Hams’ to be renamed ‘South Hams Egg And Chips’.
- Import the sport of dwarf throwing from the USA.
However, there are several policy proposals first advocated by the OMRLP, which eventually became law these include the elimination of a law that forbade pubs from operating between 3 and 5:30 pm, the introduction of 24-hour alcohol serving licenses, lowering the voting age to 18 (a National Teenage Party Proposal), the legalization of commercial radio in the 60s (also a National Teenage Party Proposal), the abolition of the 11 Plus exam (ANOTHER National Teenage Party Proposal), elimination of dog ownership licenses, and pet passports for pets traveling with their owners.
As of May, 2020, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party has recently held a live Twitter question time with its top leaders and guests, and released The Loony Party Oh-Oh Song. Listen here: