Election '97: Vote for insanity, you know it makes sense

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The Independent Online
Britain is not booming, it is barking - barking mad. Ask anyone standing on Westminster Bridge yesterday afternoon in the presence of Screaming Lord Sutch and 30 candidates standing for his Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

With the slogan "Vote for insanity: you know it makes sense", Lord Sutch launched his party's manifesto, spelling out a brighter future for the nation.

On health: free prescriptions, dental treatment and hearing aids and the compulsory wearing of wigs. On crime: standard-issue tandems for traffic police involved in high-speed pursuits. On education: a return to basics - the four Rs of reading, writing, rock and roll. And, on the burning issue of Europe: butter mountains to be made available for training British Olympic skiers, a ministry for pets to be responsible for issuing passports, and a single currency, the yahoo.

Some Loony policies are not quite as mad as they make out. A proposal to introduce special ramps on the backs of buses to allow easier access for the elderly and disabled was tested out by Steven Norris, the Conservatives' transport minister last year.

However, all is not well at Loony Headquarters - Bob's Goodtime Blues bar in west London. Lord Sutch himself, veteran rock 'n' roll star and bon viveur, has had to pull out of his own personal campaign to look after his elderly mother who has suffered a fall. And another of his candidates has run into hostility. Organisers of an election meeting in the Bradford North constituency last night banned Sutch's man, Wild Willi Beckett, from attending, saying they want to cover serious issues. Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour candidates will all get a fair hearing while Wild Willi is said to be wild with rage.