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Comedian Malcolm Hardee: political visionary & Parliamentary candidate

Malcolm’s radical UK election leaflet

Yesterday, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, opened a cable car across the Thames to Greenwich.

And, last week, Addison Cresswell of the Off The Kerb talent agency was named the “most influential” man in British Comedy by the Such Small Portions comedy website.

Here is an extract from the late “godfather of British Alternative Comedy” Malcolm Hardee’s 1996 autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake:

__________

I stood for Parliament in the very important Greenwich by-election in 1987 when Rosie Barnes stood for the SDP and Deirdre Wood was standing for the Labour Party. Everyone expected Labour to win in Greenwich but Rosie Barnes won.

I was supported by The Rainbow Alliance, who were loosely linked to The Monster Raving Loony Party. They linked up on this election and I met David – Screaming Lord – Sutch. He was broke and living with his mum at the time. He was ringing up from phone boxes trying to get his £500 deposit together.

The Rainbow Alliance was run by a peculiar old hippy called George Weiss. He had got a lot of money from his parents who were in the jewellery and silverware business and he’d blown it by gambling and betting on himself winning these elections, which he never did. I think he is convinced that one day he will win. He wanted computer-based referenda and Peace and Love all over the world. He always wanted to be a ‘personality’ but never managed it. His idea of humour was carrying a Gonk about – one of those stuffed toys that were popular in the 1960s.

George had come to the Tunnel Club which I ran and he wanted Jools Holland to run for The Rainbow Alliance in Greenwich. Jools didn’t want to appear to be a fool, so said he didn’t want to run but agreed to be my sponsor and Rainbow George put up my £500 deposit.

I ran for election under the banner THE RAINBOW ALLIANCE BEER, FAGS AND SKITTLES PARTY and we got an enormous amount of press and TV coverage because everyone thought it was going to be the last by-election before the General Election.

It was a good laugh, especially when I went to the count. The Great British public’s ignorance knows no bounds. It must be the easiest thing in the world to put an ‘X’ next to a candidate’s name. Some people had put ticks. A few had put marks out of ten. Some had voted for them all.

I got 174 votes. I beat the Communist Party. And I beat the National Front, which takes some doing because there’s strong support for them in the area.

At that time, the comedy agent Addison Cresswell was very left wing and was handling all the Red Wedge tours. He phoned me up and went mad at me because I was standing. He thought I’d take votes from the Labour Party which might have an effect if it was a close-run thing. In the event, their candidate lost by a lot more than 174.

If I had thought more seriously about it, part of my Manifesto could actually have won it for me. This was Bring Charlton Athletic Back to The Valley. Charlton is the local football club and The Valley was their ground. At the time, they had to play at Crystal Palace’s ground. If I had got the whole of the Charlton Football Supporters’ Club on my side, I would have got enough votes to win it. Four years later, they did form a Valley Party for the local elections and they did get a counsellor in and did get Charlton back to The Valley.

My other Manifesto ideas were a cable car for pensioners to the top of Greenwich Hill (This has since been successfully suggested by the Millennium Committee)…Proper rides at the funfair and proper prizes….Bringing proper fog back to London for old times’ sake….And concreting the Thames so people can travel about easier.

I’ve always felt detached from politics because Government represents authority whether Labour or Conservative. The strangest thing I noticed, when I was in prison, was that prisoners always had a better deal under a Right Wing government. Parole came in under a Conservative government. One-Third and later One-Half Remission came in under a Conservative government. I also used to think that, when a Conservative government was in power, the prison officers themselves were happier and therefore the prisoners got treated better. Due to recent developments with the Hang ‘em and Flog ‘em brigade, this is no longer the case.

Prison warders are the type of people who would have been prefects at school. They’re even worse than the Police and the Army because they’ve got authority over people who in the main are completely helpless.

To be a prison warder all you have to do is to have a clean record and be over 5’6” tall, then take a very simple exam like What is your name?

Psychologically, policemen are much the same as Screws. I’ve actually had two brother-in-laws – in effect they were my brother-in-laws – who were both policemen.

I lived with a woman for 13 years and her brother was a copper. Now my wife’s sister’s husband is a policeman. He became a policeman because he couldn’t get a proper job. He was a salesman for a bit.

Sometimes people who become policeman are quite decent but being in the Force changes them just because of the pressure of all the other people who are there. They just go along with the gang like people do in many jobs. With the Police, I think the qualifications are much too low: again you’ve only got to be over a certain height and take exams. I think you should have the same qualifications you need to be a social worker or probation officer.

I don’t like people in authority.

__________

Malcolm’s other election suggestions included:

– Flexible licensing laws

– Treble old age pensions

– Re-launch the Cutty Sark

– Free TV Licences for over 18s

– Funfair on Blackheath to be free

He arranged a Victory Celebration Party, at his Tunnel comedy club, two days before Election Day.

Supporting his candidacy, Jools Holland said Malcolm was “unbalanced and completely untrustworthy – the kind of person who would do well in British politics.”

This year’s annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are announced at the Edinburgh Fringe on Friday 24th August, during a two-hour Awards show.

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