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:
- A candidate in U.K. elections.
- A character in a science fiction movie.
- 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.”
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.
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.