Next Thread |
Previous Thread |
Next Message |
Date Posted: Sunday, June 16, 06:20:24pm
Sutch, 58; Eccentric Even for England
By WARREN HOGE
JUNE 18, 1999
Screaming Lord Sutch, the leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony party, who delighted even the victims of his lampooning of British politics over three decades, has died in London. He was 58.
He was discovered hanged in his North London home on Wednesday afternoon by his partner, Yvonne Elwood. Friends told the police that he had been on medication to offset recurring bouts of depression.
Dressed in howlingly unfashionable clothes and armed with a rusty bullhorn, he campaigned in more than 40 elections, losing them all but winning for himself the appreciation of a society with a fondness for eccentrics.
''He was the man who brought gaiety to politics and pricked the pomposity of politicians,'' said his friend, Harry Greenway, a former Conservative member of Parliament. Among the tributes to him today was one from 10 Downing Street, where a spokesman for the Prime Minister's office said: ''Screaming Lord Sutch will be much missed. For many years he made a unique contribution to British politics.''
Appearing in his standard campaign uniform of top hat and oversized jacket in gold lame or a leopard-skin pattern, he campaigned under the party slogan ''Vote for insanity -- you know it makes sense.''
Continue reading the main story
He saw only one of his campaign pledges make it onto the statute books -- lowering the voting age to 18. The rest were notable for their merry ring of sheer nonsense.
He said he wanted to know why there was only one Monopolies Commission. He proposed breeding fish in wine so they could be harvested ready-pickled. And he said the European Union should take the famous mountain of butter that was created by overregulation of dairies and turn it into a ski slope. He proposed heated toilet seats for pensioners and no closing hours for pubs.
During the prime ministership of Margaret Thatcher, he said he felt compelled to change his group's name to the Raving Sensible Party on the ground that by comparison with her ministers, his membership was no longer loony at all.
Party members arrived at one convention in a balloon so they could propose pie in the sky, and their victory parties, always held before the elections, were enlivened by the party dance, the Cabinet Reshuffle. He detested joggers and said they ought to be put to good social use by being made to power treadmills to generate cheap electricity.
He proposed extending branches from the Channel Tunnel to the islands of Guernsey and Jersey so all of Britain could be declared a tax haven. When Edinburgh and Glasgow disputed the location of the new Scottish Parliament, he proposed putting it on wheels and moving it from city to city.
Lord Sutch successfully made his point even when he did not succeed in penetrating the arena of British public life. Wearing an outsized crown on his head, he once tried unsuccessfully to gain admission to the annual full-dress Race Week at Ascot.
Watching with satisfaction was the Earl of Coventry, a real lord, who then obligingly commented: ''It really is ridiculous that this should be allowed to happen. A clown's place is other than Royal Ascot.''
With his sense of the theatrical, Lord Sutch entered his first race for Parliament in 1964 from Stratford-on-Avon. Quite by accident, he set two records in British public life: He was the country's longest-serving party leader and most frequent candidate.
He was born David Sutch but had his name legally changed to Lord Sutch in the 1970's. An only child, he was brought up by his mother, Nancy, after his father, a London policeman, was killed in a bombing attack during the blitz. She died two years ago.
Lord Sutch was said to have come by his exhibitionism through his father and grandfather, both of whom had been soapbox orators at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. In the 1960's he became a minor rock star with a group called the Raving Savages, and he continued to raise money over the years for his election entry fees by giving concerts and playing in clubs throughout Europe.
He never married but he had a son, Tristan, who is 24 and lives in the United States, by Thann Quantrill, a former American model who helped out in one of his early campaigns by riding naked through a town on horseback.
Over the years, election officials raised the entry fee to keep irreverent candidates from entering races, but it did not work -- until last week.
The entry fee for last week's elections to the European Parliament was $8,000, a new high, and Lord Sutch said he could not enter at that price. He predicted the extinction of his party, saying, ''It's a bad day for loonies, it's a sad day for democracy.''
Next Thread |
Previous Thread |
Next Message |