Lord Buckethead and British Politics

Lord Buckethead has been in the news lately.

Who, you might rationally ask, is Lord Buckethead? Let’s do a quick news quiz. He is:

  1. A candidate in U.K. elections.
  2. A character in a science fiction movie.
  3. Both of the above.

Answer # 3 is correct.

The only marginally useful thing I can tell you about the movie that created the Lord B. character is that it’s called Gremloids and that Lord B. is an intergalactic space lord. I’ve seen him described as a cut-price Darth Vader. I trust someone will jump in and save me from my ignorance. In the meantime, let me tell you about the candidate.

Lord Buckethead flashed onto the political scene in 2017, when he ran against Prime Minister Theresa May. In the British system, no one runs or votes directly the prime ministership, so he was running against her for a seat in Parliament. May claimed to be offering strong, stable leadership. He offered “strong, not entirely stable, leadership.”

Irrelevant photo: A rhododendron. The season’s over. Really, I need to get out there and take some new pictures.

He made his appearances in costume. (I could probably argue that she did as well.) You owe it to yourself to go back to the first mention of his name and follow the link so you can see him standing demurely alongside the other candidates, waiting for the vote totals to be announced.

I’ll make this easy: Here’s the link again.

He won 249 votes and the photo of him and his fellow candidates went viral.

At some point, the person under the Lord B. costume, Jon Harvey, got into a wrangle over control of the Lord B. character with Todd Durham, the filmmaker behind Gremloids. It ended up with Harvey surrendering the key to Lord B.’s Twitter account to  Durham.

Then Lord B. went quiet for a while.

Recently, though, he started tweeting again, and appearing at rallies backing a second Brexit referendum. He did some fundraising so he could run in the E.U. elections but dropped his bid when he realized he might take votes from anti-Brexit candidates he actually supported.

This is a new Lord Buckethead, though, not the old one. Since we’re talking about someone with a black buckety thing on his head, the difference isn’t easy to spot. The new Lord B. seems be linked to Durham, because it was Durham who said the money Lord B. crowdfunded for his E.U. election campaign had been returned when he abandoned his run.

Or maybe it is Durham, except that, according to the bios I’ve found, he’s American. Even in costume and under the name Lord Buckethead, he’s not–at least at first glance–eligible to run in European elections. And I’m going to assume that anyone registering to run as Lord Buckethead will be asked a few questions beyond the standard have you filled out this form and where’s your money?

Durham said he welcomed applications from people who want to stand as Lord B. in future British elections. He didn’t say how many, so in our next elections, whenever they turn out to happen, we may find multiple Lord B.’s running for multiple seats. Maybe we’ll end up with a parliament made up entirely of people in Buckethead costumes who all hold their seats under the same name. 

And you thought we had chaos now.

Anyway, it could have been an E.U. citizen inside the costume in this most recent almost-run. It also might not have been. We can’t tell. 

What do British electoral regulations say about people running under names that aren’t their own?

“If you commonly use a different name from your actual name, you can ask for your commonly used name(s) to be used instead of your actual name. “

The name does–at least in theory–have to be a commonly used name that you commonly use.  And it can’t be obscene or offensive. So if you commonly call yourself Lord Buckethead, you’re okay. If you don’t, you’re on shaky ground, although you can fix it all by convincing your mother to call you Lord Buckethead for a week or two.

Can I listen into that conversation? Please?

As far as I know, you don’t have to wear the costume all day or sew yourself Lord Buckethead pajamas.

No one has thought to make a rule governing multiple people running under the same commonly used name that just happens to belong to a fictional being.

Yet.

The earliest Lord Buckethead campaigns were personed by Mike Lee, who ran him (or maybe that should be plain old “who ran”; grammar doesn’t know what to do with this) against Margaret Thatcher in 1987 (131 votes) and against John Major in 1992 (107 votes).

Lord B.’s manifesto (that seems to be the second Lord B., not, I think, the first or the third, although really, your guess is as good as mine) includes the following position on nuclear weapons: “A firm public commitment to build the £100bn renewal of the Trident weapons system, followed by an equally firm private commitment not to build it. They’re secret submarines, no one will ever know. It’s a win win.”

The current Lord B. tweets as @LordBuckethead.

And Jon Harvey–the second Lord B.? He’s pointing out that crowdfunding can allow candidates to be funded and controlled from abroad. The most recent Lord B. campaign, he said, was being run by an American from Beverly Hills.

When the second (I think) Lord B. was interviewed on CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the interviewer asked,  “Are you like Dr. Who, do you regenerate for each election?”

“I am Buckethead,” he said. ” We are Buckethead. We are Legion. Does that answer your question?”

Which is an impressively accurate prediction, since he made it before he had any idea how legion he was about to become.

Welcome to the insanity of British politics. Sadly, most of it this much fun. Or this sensible.

*

I owe thanks to someone for suggesting that I write about Lord Buckethead, but I’ve lost track of who it is. When I looked him up at the time, I couldn’t make the story come together. It took the latest uproar for it to cohere into what you just read. By now, though, I’ve lost the note I left myself. Whoever you are, thanks and please let me know who you are. I’ll post a link if you blog.

69 thoughts on “Lord Buckethead and British Politics

    • Sadly, he didn’t get into the papers here. When I was a kid, I was told about an election in, I think, Uruguay, where they ran a hippo from the zoo for mayor. And my partner, who’s from Texas, remembers an election where of the three candidates one was in jail, one was dead, and the third was in a mental hospital. Time and memory (and being from Texas) may have improved that story just a bit, so take it in the spirit in which it was told. I don’t know who won in either of those races.

      This trend of having comedians and celebrities run for office, then get elected on their personalities while no one knows what they believe, stand for, or would do is–once I’m done being amused–getting quite scary.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The thing is, such comedians back home were severe critics of the totalitarian regime, so they thought since we can’t beat you the normal way, let’s make a joke out of it all. And it worked, at least in their municipality. They have been doing quite serious work there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good to know. I was thinking of Beppe Grillo, so started as a comedian, helped found the Five Star Movement, and is now (I think–I don’t follow Italian politics as closely as I should) in coalition with the anti-immigrant far right.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I’ve been wondering how that’ll play out.

              In the U.S., Minnesota had a senator who’d been a comedian and was, I thought, quite good, but he got taken down by an accusation of sexual harassment. His name’s gotten away from me just now.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I realize, after I left my earlier agreement (which will probably appear here as if it was later) that I’m not sure we were agreeing about the same issue. If it was about sexual harassment, I’m not relaxed. I do know that the accusation can be weaponized against someone who was being a minor-league jerk at a time when a man didn’t have to know he was being a jerk. I also know that the big-league jerks, such as Trump, often manage to slide through by claiming that it’s just fine and their supporters are inclined at accept that. I don’t think accusation can equal guilt for this or anything else. But I also don’t want to see us go back to a time when sexual harassment was not just accepted but unavoidable.

                Liked by 1 person

              • No–not at all do you strike me that way. Which is why I tossed off an agreement, then I realized there’d been two issues in the converation and in the interests of clarity I thought I’d–well, clarify.

                Liked by 1 person

    • Y’know, I could find bragging rights in racking up the lowest number of votes on record. I once took a typing test where, once they subtracted my errors from the alleged words I got on the page, I had the lowest score they’d ever seen. In an odd way, I’m still proud of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. He also bears a striking resemblance to the “Black Knight” in Monty Python and The Holy Grail” (None shall pass). Funny, isn’t it, how politics and comedy can be mistaken for one another?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ellen, you are the best at taking down every apparent fallacy I have ever had about England/Britain/UK. I had to put three choices there because I’m still not completely sure what to call the place you live. Over these last few years especially, with our own version of Lord B in charge, I really had little concept that any place other than the USA was filled with such lunacy.
    Somehow you always allow me to feel just a bit better about being here, rather than there in that place you live, when I read your posts. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was going to mention the Screaming Lord but somebody beat me to it. Ah well, that’s because I was busy this morning and only just got here. Thank you (and Stevie who shares you) for my weekly dose of witty commentary on my native land and its strange people.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ‘‘Tis gives me an idea. A run for congress as John S. Headinthesand. Or somewhere else I thought of but wanted to keep clean as this is a family post. I suppose.

    A little humor in politics is a good thing. British to that well. We get carried away over here.

    John Kennedy used humor very well. Jimmy (not his real name) did not. Reagan used humor and beat Carter.

    Maybe next week will be better. Let’s hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, if Lord Buckethead IS really an American and can’t run in “YOUR” elections, the GOP needs somebody to “primary” Donald Trump. Otherwise, Buckethead may be appointed the newest “acting” member of the U.S. cabinet.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ellen – you are remembering Al Franken – the comedian senator. Not to mention (you didn’t) former pro wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was Al Franken. His name came to me at 4 a.m. or thereabouts and I–you’ll probably be surprised to know–didn’t feel like jumping up to add a note to the blog. By the time it was a more sensible hour, I wasn’t thinking about it. So thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We have a Buckethead who’d discard the title of Lord and name himself King Buckethead. I wish he’d wear a bucket to cover his golden orange locks and idiotic mouth. For the most part, he’s surrounded by politicians who wear similar buckets; smaller sizes of course as no one can upstage King Buckethead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some of them–my friends who actually know these things tell me–are hard to keep straight. I tend to rely on big (both plant and flower) being rhododendrons and small being azaleas, but let’s not mistake me for an expert.

      Like

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