LONDON (), September 23, 1999
Britain's Official Monster Raving Loony Party, still mourning the death of its eccentric founder Screaming Lord Sutch, said on Thursday the race to succeed him was finely balanced between the party chairman and his cat.
Alan Hope, re-christened Howling Laud Hope to launch his bid for power, is running against his own cat, Mandu.
The contest to take over from Sutch, who hanged himself in June, is set to dominate the four-day annual meeting of the party, which campaigns at British elections under the slogan "Vote insanity, you know it makes sense."
"It could be a split vote," Hope told . "Technically as I'm the chairman I would have the casting vote, but I don't know who I'd vote for."
Hope said Sutch's suicide was a sad loss for the party he led for 21 years.
But the 17,000 members were adamant the party should continue its mission to prick the pomposity of Britain's heavyweight parties.
"It needs to go on, that's what the world is telling us," he said. "We're the only party that knows how to party."
Sutch regularly stood against the incumbent prime minister in general elections and brightened up numerous by-elections. He stood unsuccessfully for parliament 40 times.
His policies included wanting fish bred in a European wine lake so they could be caught ready pickled, giving pensioners heated toilet seats and extending the Channel Tunnel to Switzerland to give Britain tax haven status.
Hope said some of his zany policies had serious impact.
"A few years ago we said: 'Let's use the (European) butter mountains and turn them into ski slopes'," he said.
"The point was we were asking: 'Why are they there'.. The hierarchy thought we were making fools of them and the government started handing back butter to old age pensioners."
And 15 years ago everybody laughed at the Official Monster Raving Loony Party when it proposed passports for pets, Hope said. But last month the government announced radical changes to its quarantine laws centred on plans to introduce...passports for pets.