Loony leader joins Eastleigh by-election contestBy Stephen Lloyd
February 14, 2013
THE leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party has thrown his unusually large hat into the ring to fight the Eastleigh by-election.
Fleet resident Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope is one of number of candidates who has already put their names forward to contest the poll, triggered by the resignation of Chris Huhne.
Mr Huhne, Liberal Democrat MP for the Hampshire town since 2005, stepped down last week after admitting perverting the course of justice over claims his then-wife took speeding points for him in 2003. His former wife Vicky Pryce is on trial after denying the same offence.
Mr Hope, who was born in Mytchett, went to school in Farnborough and was landlord of the Dog and Partridge pub in Yateley for five years, became party leader in 1999 following the death of Screaming Lord Sutch.
Speaking about the 1994 by-election, which was the first time Nigel Farrage stood for UKIP and came up against Screaming Lord Sutch, he said: “The big story then, and still today, is that Nigel Farrage only beat us by 169 votes.”
Mr Farrage polled 952 votes while Lord Sutch got 783 in a by-election won by the Liberal Democrats, with Peter Warburn of the Natural Law party coming last with 145 votes.
“So you see as far back as then, we were not coming last,” said Mr Hope.
When asked what his policies would be, he quipped he “had a few points to offer” but “wasn’t giving any away yet”.
The Fleet town councillor will be in Eastleigh from February 23 ready for polling day on February 28. “Who will win, who knows, but it will be close and look out for us to make a difference to the way people think,” said Mr Hope, who stood in the Aldershot constituency during the 2005 general election.
The Liberal Democrats hold the seat following a 3,864-vote majority in 2010. The final list of candidates was being confirmed as the paper went to press yesterday. Other candidates who have announced they are standing so far are, in alphabetical order, Jim Duggan (Peace Party), Maria Hutchings (Conservative), Diane James (UKIP), Iain Maclennan (National Health Action Party), John O’Farrell (Labour), Darren Procter (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and Mike Thornton (Liberal Democrat).