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Written on April 28, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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The Compton Arms is a very traditional pub which does decent beer, like Abbotts, and classic grub – fish and chips, burgers, pies, gammon and pineapple, baked potatoes, steak sandwich. It also has an incumbent drinking population prepared to demand their places at the small bar and the comfortable few tables at the front and back. There I met Andy “The Hat” Gardener, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate for Islington South and Finsbury, last Wednesday, after a quick phone call established that the pub was exactly between our two residences, and we spent a pleasant 30 minutes chatting quite seriously about politics, expertly fighting off the robust attentions of various Arsenal fans anticipating a match.

Screaming Lord Sutch started in politics in 1963 when he stood for the Teenagers’ Party, on a platform which included lowering the age of majority to 18 from 21. This year, more than fifty Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidates are standing, including in Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s patch.

OMRLP have among their obvious jokes – like the introduction of a 99 pence coin to save on change – some manifesto pledges which are surprisingly good ideas. Like lowering the voting age to 16, which as Andy pointed out, the LibDems are now talking about doing. It’s strange to think the self-proclaimed Loony Party are the first to have made suggestions which are now accepted law, including around the clock pub opening, passports for pets. Andy was upbeat as he listed the ideas “other parties have stolen”.

Some ideas are on the sane/insane edge. Like pram lanes in every shopping centre – it would be a good idea, ask anyone who has experienced “pram rage”. Like, banning the word “like” as in, “I was, like, starting to suspect Andy was actually very intelligent, and he didn’t, like, disappoint me.” – the punishment for this mangling of English to be time spent with George Bush. Freakin’ yay! I’d vote for that.

As we chatted in this busy pub, I realised that Andy had a good handle on his role in the election, was thoroughly enjoying himself, and saw that his own comic contribution was a good and necessary thing. He pointed out that despite voter apathy, his vote is likely to be up. “None of the other parties get the same response as we do, people hooting and waving at us all the time. We put smiles on a lot of people’s faces.”

OMRLP do cheer a lot of people up. The Loonies – always careful to say they are Loonies, not Nutters – actually represent putting the election at the disposal of comedy. They stimulate interest in democracy at a time when voter apathy is high. Importantly, they mean that politicians can’t stick clannishly to their own kind, but have to suffer the great unbearable British public at our sarcastic best in their prime moment of disappointment, or triumph. Once again, as TV crews film the announcement of each constituency result at some God awful time in the morning, we’ll see the line-up of smart business suits, rosettes and egos ready for crushing, punctured by someone standing there dressed in the most eccentric costume they can assemble.

Audio interview here.

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This thing has 3 Comments

  1. Blog ho
    Posted 29 April, 2005 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    what’s the diff between Loonies and Nutters?

  2. transience
    Posted 30 April, 2005 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    i am a tough crowd. voter apathy on transient island is always high.

  3. Laurie
    Posted 30 April, 2005 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    There was a segment on the CBS Evening News the other night about the elections over there and I felt so smart!! I actually knew what they were talking about. Thanks, Deek.

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