Britain relishes eccentrics.
Today, Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister of the UK.
And today I got a message from mad inventor John Ward, famed throughout the land – some land – as designer of the late-lamented Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. Among his many other claims to fame is that he used to be Minister for Inventions for both the Monster Raving Loony Party and The Eccentric Party.
He wrote to me:
The phone rang yesterday.
A Press Association bod calling
Could they have a quote from or on behalf of The Eccentric Party regarding Boris Johnson being voted in as Tory Prime Minister?
I replied: “Never! – Really? – Who would have thought it…?”
“Can I quote you on that?” said the man from the Press Association.
“You can if you like…,” I told him.
He then asked who I was…
They can be so hurtful at times.
I pointed out that the leader of the Eccentric Party was now ‘brown bread’ as of a few months ago and possibly the party itself also.
The man from the Press Association said he was sorry to hear about it.
I said it was in those newspaper things at the time or just after his demise, I believe, as it wasn’t pre-booked as far as I am aware.
But, undeterred, the man from the Press Association asked: “So who would it be best to speak to then?”
I said he could go for gold and get in touch with Screaming Lord Sutch…
“Have you a contact for him?” the man from the Press Association asked.
Was it the late Ken Goodwin who used the catchphrase “I’m too good for this place…”?
I am beginning to get the same feeling.
For the uninitiated, Screaming Lord Such, creator and leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party, died in June 1999. So it goes.
I would have thought the Press Association, the major news agency who distribute news to UK national, regional and local newspapers, might have noticed. Or might have read my recent blog HERE.
On the other hand, I was myself shocked to hear that Lord Toby Jug, leader of The Eccentric Party had died on 2nd May this year, at the age of 53. So it goes.
Lord Toby Jug – he changed his name legally from Brian Borthwick by deed poll – had been a guitarist in a band with Screaming Lord Sutch. Sutch had given him the nickname ‘Toby Jug’ because he was a little rotund in appearance. As leader of the Eccentric Party, he wore a top hat which had previously belonged to Sutch.
He was expelled from the Monster Raving Loony Party in 2014 by then party leader Howling Laud Hope (this is British politics for you) over comments Lord Toby had made about UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and for his criticism of pub chain J D Wetherspoon, a company which the Loony party had been attempting to attract as a sponsor.
In 2015, Lord Toby told me: “I left the Monster Raving Loony Party because they didn’t like my stance – as told to national newspapers – on Nigel Farage and UKIP. I said UKIP claimed to be fruitcakes, loonies and crackpots but that’s our area. They tried to nick our Holy Grail of loonies. Another reason I left was because I met Nigel Farage and some of his sick-you-fonts and I thought they were closet racists and decided that should be put in the public domain. UKIP are far too eccentric, far too potty. Extremists.”
On the rebound from the Monster Raving Loonies, Lord Toby formed The Eccentric Party, whose policies included:
- putting super glue in lip balm to fight obesity
- taller buildings for higher education.
- a 15% phone bill discount for people who stutter
He stood in various General, county and local elections but surprisingly never won.
In 2015, he stood in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency against Boris Johnson and Howling Laud Hope of the Monster Raving Loony Party. He polled 50 votes.
According to his obituary in The Times in May 2019: “He thought Johnson would make an ideal member of the Eccentric Party, even offering to stand aside as leader if his rival would defect. Later he had second thoughts. I went round with a jug of water and a comb to tidy his hair, Jug recalled. But he’s too much of an extremist for us — a tad too bonkers.”
The original Eccentric Party candidate in that Uxbridge election had been Chris Dowling who fell ill and Lord Toby replaced him. Chris had been an optimist and told me, in 2015:
“Even though this is still the greatest democracy in the world, the political system in this country is outdated and it needs to be revamped. I’m gonna win by a landslide majority here.”
“Against Boris?” I asked.
“Yeah. He’s a bigger loony than I am… Sooner or later, Boris Johnson will be the Prime Minister of this country.”
“I think so too,” I agreed.
“Everything I’ve seen about Boris Johnson,” said Chris, “he’s just seemed a buffoon and I quite like that about him.”
Far from that being a drawback in British politics, it might seem to be a prerequisite.