Loons, su­per­heroes liven up UK elec­tion

Lesotho Times - - International -

FLEET — There’s some­thing about a Bri­tish gen­eral elec­tion that brings out od­dballs, loons and ec­cen­tric buf­foons who dream of mak­ing it to par­lia­ment.

In the run-up to polling day on 7 May 2015, Bri­tain’s stuffy politi­cians are shar­ing the hus­tings with quirky can­di­dates pok­ing fun at the whole elec­tion rit­ual.

And in a cam­paign de­rided as flat and stage-man­aged, the new ar­rivals are bring­ing some much-needed mer­ri­ment to pro­ceed­ings.

The torch­bear­ers for elec­toral ec­cen­tric­ity are the Of­fi­cial Mon­ster Rav­ing Loony Party, which has been blow­ing rasp­ber­ries at pol­i­tics for decades.

Their leader, Alan “Howl­ing Laud” Hope, dresses in a white suit and stet­son, com­plete with a lu­di­crous gi­ant rosette and a leop­ard­print bow tie.

The Loony “man­i­festo” in­cludes pledges to put air con­di­tion­ing on the out­side of build­ings to deal with global warm­ing and fit airbags to the stock ex­change ready for the next crash.

But some of their poli­cies, once de­rided as bonkers, have ac­tu­ally been en­acted, such as pass­ports for pets, 24-hour pubs and honours for The Bea­tles.

“Our main pol­icy is: we prom­ise we shall do all the things the other par­ties say they’re go­ing to do when they don’t do it,” Mr Hope told AFP at his lo­cal pub in Fleet, south­west of Lon­don.

“We’ve seen it all be­fore, heard it all be­fore, and still don’t be­lieve it.”

Mr Hope is stand­ing against bum­bling Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son in the west Lon­don seat of Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip, and hopes vot­ers will have trou­ble pick­ing out the of­fi­cial Loony.

“Gen­eral elec­tions are good fun. When we turn up, they say, jolly good job you’re here, at least it won’t be so bor­ing,” he said, sip­ping a pint of Loony “Win­ning Co-ale-ition” beer.

“We’re just pok­ing a bit of sen­si­ble fun at pol­i­tics,” said the 72-yearold, one of 16 Loonies stand­ing.

“If we just got 2 000 or 3 000 votes, wouldn’t it make the other par­ties sit up and think, where on Earth are we go­ing wrong?

“That not loony, is it? Or is it?”

Flat­u­lent su­per­hero sniffs

op­por­tu­nity Mean­while in Aber­avon in south Wales, Cap­tain Beany — once voted the Great Bri­tish Ec­cen­tric of the year — is out to cause a shock up­set.

Lo­cal char­ity fundraiser Barry Kirk (60) is a man-sized baked bean: the tinned hari­cot beans in tomato sauce beloved by Bri­tons famed for in­duc­ing flat­u­lence.

He has spent 25 years un­suc­cess­fully stand­ing for elec­tion in his Cap­tain Beany su­per­hero cos­tume and nu­clear-or­ange face paint.

This time round he has switched the caped cru­sader look for a tange- rine-coloured smart suit to strike a more se­ri­ous tone.

He is stand­ing against Stephen Kin­nock — son of 1980s Labour leader Neil Kin­nock and hus­band of Dan­ish Prime Min­is­ter Helle Thorn­ing-sch­midt — who has been parachuted into the safe Labour seat.

“It is a slap in the face to all the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion,” Beany told AFP.

“Peo­ple say to me at least you are lo­cal, have done your bit for this town, why should we vote for this in­ter­loper?”

Beany and Mr Kin­nock have crossed paths out cam­paign­ing.

“What a bore! If you went into a fur­ni­ture show­room he’s quite plau­si­ble for that. He’s to­tally bland,” he said, howl­ing with laugh­ter.

Beany reck­ons his new look and se­ri­ous ap­proach to rep­re­sent­ing his strug­gling steel­works town is at­tract­ing more vot­ers.

“Politi­cians prom­ise the world and don’t come up with the goods,” he said.

“I’ve got one pol­icy: if you’ve got any is­sues, come to see me and I prom­ise if I can do some­thing for you, I’ll try my hard­est to do it.

“Can you imag­ine an or­ange man on the back benches? That would be awe­some!”

Mara­cas at the ready Else­where, some well-known but rather un­usual can­di­dates are hop­ing to shake up par­lia­ment.

Mark “Bez” Berry, the dancer­mara­cas shaker in the al­ter­na­tive rock band Happy Mon­days, has formed the Re­al­ity Party, an an­ti­aus­ter­ity, anti-frack­ing move­ment.

He is stand­ing in Sal­ford and Ec­cles in Manch­ester, north­west Eng­land, pro­claim­ing: “Shake your mara­cas if you’re against the frack­ers.”

Co­me­dian Al Mur­ray is stand­ing in South Thanet, southeast Eng­land, against Nigel Farage, leader of the United King­dom In­de­pen­dence Party.

Mr Mur­ray is run­ning as his char­ac­ter The Pub Land­lord — a pa­tri­otic, xeno­pho­bic, re­ac­tionary publi­can.

“It seems to me that the UK is ready for a bloke wav­ing a pint around, of­fer­ing com­mon sense so­lu­tions,” Mur­ray said, the whole ef­fort mock­ing Farage’s ap­proach.

— AFP

THE Dalai lama (right) and Arch­bishop Tutu in­ter­act with stu­dents at the Ti­betan Chil­dren’s Vil­lage School in In­dia on 23 April.

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