What really matters in British politics

You have to love British politics. We just had an election in which the prime minister, Theresa May—at least as I type this she’s still the prime minister, although I wouldn’t put any large amount of money on that lasting—was opposed in her bid to continue as a member of parliament by Lord Buckethead, Elmo, and Howling “Laud” Hope.

But before we go into detail, a bit of background for anyone who isn’t used to British elections: In spite of being the prime minister, May had to run for her seat in parliament, just like any other member of parliament. All prime ministers do. If she couldn’t keep her seat, she wouldn’t be prime minister anymore.

It must be humbling to go from wheeling a dealing and giving orders to begging for votes on equal terms with the rest of your party.

Especially when people don’t take it seriously.

Irrelevant and not particularly good photo: Buttercups. Sorry–I’ll try to do better next time.

Let’s start with the most dramatic of her opponents, Lord Buckethead, who wears a black cape and has a black bucket–or something black and vaguely bucketish–on his head. As far as I can figure out, he ran without the backing of any party. Political parties can be short sighted like that. Think of the publicity they could’ve gotten.

He describes himself as an “intergalactic space lord.” The article I learned this from says his real name is unknown, although for all we know he asked Google to translate his name from intergalactic space lordish into English and it comes out as Lord Buckethead.

Note to all reporters: Check your assumptions before you pass them off as facts. This stuff matters.

Anyway, Theresa May’s campaign, both in her own constituency and around the country on behalf of her party, consisted of droning the slogan “strong, stable leadership” at every possible opportunity. Buckethead promised strong but “not entirely stable leadership.”

That won him 249 votes.

He (or someone else with the same name and a bucket on his head) also ran against Margaret Thatcher in 1987 and John Major in 1992, when they were the prime ministers. In Britain, you don’t have to live in the constituency you’re running for office in—or even pretend to live in it—so running against a prime minister? It’s something you can do on a whim, as long as you have the filing fee, which is £500, and meet a list of fairly boring qualifications, such as not being a member of the police or armed forces, a civil servant, or a judge.

Buckethead apparently qualifies, and he even has policies. One is providing safe, effective opposition to Theresa May. Another is turning a safe seat (that means a parliamentary seat that a party’s almost guaranteed to win) into an ejector seat. A third is investing in schools, the National Health Service, social care, local infrastructure, and “other things humans vote for.”

He also promised to nationalize the singer Adele and abolish all lords except himself. And just to prove he’s serious about this, he has a campaign song.

Okay, I’ve heard better singers. Hell, I’m a better singer, because he doesn’t set the bar very high. But then the better singers I’m talking about weren’t singing from inside a bucket, so we should probably cut the guy a little slack.

Elmo also ran against Theresa May, but he only got 3 votes, probably because he appeared under the name Bobby Smith instead of Elmo. I mean, Bobby Smith? Who’s going to vote for him? On the other hand, he got to appear on the platform, dressed as Elmo, alongside May and Lord Buckethead when the votes were counted.

Lord Buckethead stole the show, though.

Still sticking with May’s constituency, the Monster Raving Loony Party (“vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party—The only sane thing to do in a world gone mad”) backed Howling “Laud” Hope, who won 119 votes and got to take the quotation marks home with him, since they appeared on the ballot. I don’t know if he had to change his name legally to appear on the ballot that way. It’s something Elmo should ask him about.

“Laud” Hope was also on stage, although looking at the BBC’s photo—which is wonderful—I’m not sure which one he is since he wasn’t in costume. The party could learn a thing or three from the independents.

But enough of Theresa May’s constituency. Let’s move on. Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, had to run against Mr. Fish Finger (sometimes spelled Fishfinger), who according to the Guardian (see the first link) upstaged Farron’s victory speech.

Fish Finger took the name legally after a Twitter poll of 1,000 people showed that 90% of them would rather be led by a fish finger than by Farron.

What’s a Twitter poll? I don’t really know, but I suspect it’s one of those things where you ask 1,000 of your closest friends to agree with you.

Mr Finger (or maybe that’s Mr. Fishfinger) crowdfunded his campaign, raising £2,301. His page says he trusts “to Cod that you will keep giving.”

I was having a good time with all this until I read his twitter page, which (to the extent that I can figure out what he’s saying) is full of anti-immigrant crap and bad puns. Okay, full disclosure: the puns were on the crowdfunding page and I was willing to overlook them until I decided I hated the guy.

Strong opinions on the subject? Nah. I treasure my objectivity.

Still, he upstaged Tim Farron beautifully during the vote count. And got 309 votes. Plus he’s now the proud owner of a ratty-looking fish finger costume, and Halloween is coming.

And that, my friends, is what really goes on in British politics.

84 thoughts on “What really matters in British politics

  1. Notwithstanding the fact that our politics has become very messy (and dare I say unstable?) for no very good reason and at a time when it really needs to be (dare I say?) strong and stable, I am proud to live in a country where people like Lord Buckethead can stand for election. He is more human than many of our MPs, who take themselves far too seriously. It also just about sums up the intellectual level of the debate conducted by all of the parties I paid any attention to, who seem to think that the electorate is stupid. Even the one I voted for. Lord Buckethead and Mr Fishfinger were also some light relief amongst the hate-fuelled drivel circulated by bigots from left and right. One thing I won’t put up with is intolerance.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You probably found somewhere a full bucket of humor and didn’t misplace it like your objectivity teaspoon . Try a little harder and your political essays will deserve a place in libraries between Plato and Lenin .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah yes. Excellent post. It was at least heartening that so many younger voters turned out this time. I personally would have trouble voting for a fish finger. I would like to see a nice slippery reptilian in parliament. Come to think of it … there are already plenty. 🐍🐍🐊🐊🐙🐙🐛🐛🐜🐲🐲

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The original founder of the Monster Raving Loony Party was the wonderfully named Screaming Lord Sutch (1940 – 1999). He stood as a candidate in over 40 parliamentary elections, losing every time of course.

    Oh and I believe that one of Lord Buckethead’s manifesto policies was to bring back Ceefax ( the world’s first teletext information service). Perhaps the Tories would have got more of the oldie’s votes if they’d proposed that instead of the dementia tax. They could have gone one better and proposed to bring back dial telephones, including retrofitting dials to all smartphones.

    Liked by 3 people

    • 1. Great ideas, all of them. But if only the Tories had explained the dementia tax correctly: We tax anyone who develops dementia and it discourages other people from getting it. It’d be right up there with the death penalty in terms of effectiveness.

      2. Not long before we got rid of our old dial telephone, a neighbor kid was at our house trying to call her mother but couldn’t figure out how to do it. She did, I think, recognize it as a telephone, but that was as far as she could get.

      3. The problem with following Screaming Lord Such is coming up with a name that does him any sort of justice.

      Like

    • They probably are (they take bets on everything here), but I just googled it and couldn’t find anything, so I guess it’s not a massive trend. She just visited the site of a tragic fire in London, in which many tenants were burned to a crisp because of budget cuts, privatization, and cheap-ass shortcuts (to put the case with the complete objectivity that I’m known for), and she managed not to talk to a single burned-out tenant. Corbyn, on the other hand, circulated, hugged tenants,talked with volunteers, and appeared in the papers looking like a–um, gee, a prime minister. So whatever the odds against her were yesterday, they’re more so today.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just cannot imagine a fish finger standing for election in Costa Rica….but if Liberation get back in next year the people will be glad to vote for a fish finger the next time round.
    For those unaquainted with Costa Rican politics Liberation is the name of the party whose leaders liberate your money for their personal use.
    I cannot imagine a fish finger standing for election in France, either….but they did manage to elect a shark.
    I shall know that Britain has become a fully integrated society when a chicken tikka masala is elected to Parliament.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Helen,
    I must admit, sometimes even British politics can be fun (to watch). I still remember Screaming Lord Sutch and his Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Oh, how I love those British eccentrics. ;) Isn’t that the essence of Britishness, besides having a “stiff upper lip”? ;)
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Pit

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, wigs are for the courts–the judges, the lawyers. Not the defendants, mercifully. They have enough to contend with without having to cope with wigs.The MPs don’t wear wigs. The Lords (in the House of Lords) don’t wear wigs but do wear ermine on specified occasions–and I haven’t a clue what those are. It’s all silly enough without adding wigs to the picture.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve yet to find a way to laugh at Trump. I simply can’t find the funny in it because he is lined up with ALLLLLL the right-wingers and that includes some Dems. I think I am still astonished that Americans are so incredibly stupid. Signed, Still hurting here in the USA.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Would that all countries took politics this seriously. I don’t fool myself into thinking it would make the world a better place, but I reckon we can all do with a good chuckle every few years (or at arbitrary random intervals in the case of British politics).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Someone above mentioned a “shark” being elected in France. At least that shark has a brain in his head unlike some other leaders of great big very powerful nations, if you get who I’m talking about. I’d much rather our young, highly intelligent French shark than Captain Orange any day.
    A shark-loving British expat in France, godammit (just threw in that last word for effect).
    On a lighter note Ellen, don’t you just love the fact that eccentric Brits are allowed on the political stage. What other country does that?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I just wish we could call an election here as the Brits do. Trump’s popularity is sinking fast, but we’re stuck with him for a bunch of years. Note: I don’t think the GOP will ever work up the guts to impeach him – and then we’re stuck with Pence isn’t much of an improvement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And if Pence goes down with him, we’d have–I think it’s the Speaker of the House, isn’t it?

      But it’s not the people who get to call an election here, it’s the prime minister–unless she (or he) can’t hold a government together, in which case I guess an election more or less calls itself. In this case, the PM massively miscalculated her support. Tee hee.

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      • Yep, it’s Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) to follow Pence in a normal succession. But the unelected Pres. Ford situation back in the Nixon/Watergate days was more interesting, or convoluted. Spiro Agnew (Nixon’s VP) had already resigned before Nixon because of a corruption scandal back in his home state of Maryland. Ford, as minority leader of the House was in line to replace the vice president. Then when Nixon resigned, Ford, as VP, was next in line to become President. Then Ford got to appoint Nelson Rockefeller as his VP. All according to the 25th amendment.

        So…. if we could pull off the same succession scenario, Nancy Pelosi (minority leader of the House currently) could become VP and then POTUS! Wouldn’t that be a treat?

        “the PM massively miscalculated her support”… could we call that a definition of hubris? That IS funny!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. The Monster Raving Loony Party seems to have lost direction since Screaming Lord Such died. I’m sure they used to contest a lot more seats a lot more successfully.

    It’s not just national politics where this happens. Just before I went there the students at my university elected a dalek as president of the Guild of Students.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You guys have style. You really do. If that happened in the U.S., some hopeless university something-with-a-title would give everyone involved an endless lecture on how they had to take this seriously and they were bringing discredit to themselves and the school and drone, drone, drone, until everyone involved backed down.

      Following Screaming Lord Sutch can’t be easy. Me? I don’t think I’d even try.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A few elections back here in Australia, the conservative ( well, they call themselves the Liberal party but that’s a cynical joke! ) prime minister lost his seat to the Labor ( yes, American spelling which is odd for us ) candidate. Oh happy day! A brief shining moment which was over at the next election but ah…sweet memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The pattern seems to be that–at least until someone comes up with a new way of doing things–whoever’s in power will, justifiably, get blamed for how screwed up things are. And then, usually unjustifiably, the party that’s out of power gets voted in. Or the one that knows how to harness anger best. I’m waiting for that someone to come up with that new way.

      Like

  13. Are you familiar with Jimmy McMillan of the The Rent Is Too Damn High Party? I am hoping he and Lord Buckethead can get some cross-Atlantic political momentum going… Can’t be any crazier than what we’ve got going on now.

    Liked by 1 person

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