Loony leader's Benny Hill tribute in Eastleigh raceBy Stephen Lloyd
February 25, 2013
COMEDIAN Benny Hill will be immortalised forever if the leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party gets his way.
Fleet resident Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope, who is fighting in the Eastleigh by-election on February 28, is campaigning to get Southampton/Eastleigh airport changed in memory of Benny Hill, who was born in Southampton.
“If Liverpool can change Speke Airport to The John Lennon there is no reason why Southampton/Eastleigh should not be renamed The Benny Hill and have a statue erected to him on the shopping centre walkway,” said Mr Hope.
“What a tourist attraction that would be, creating more interest and bringing more money into town, even perhaps creating some more employment.”
The by-election has been triggered by the resignation of Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat MP for the Hampshire town since 2005, who stepped down after admitting perverting the course of justice over claims his then-wife took speeding points for him in 2003.
His former wife Vicky Pryce stood trial after denying the same offence. The jury was discharged on February 20 after failing to reach a verdict and a re-trial will be held.
The fight for the seat has already seen political rows and high profile visits to the town by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Hope pointed out he has plenty of political experience.
“In 1987 I was elected to the town council in Ashburton in Devon as a Loony party member, held my seat for 13 years and was town mayor from 1998 to 2000,” he said. “I was also chairman of the council and a Lord of the Borough.” Mr Hope moved back to Hampshire in 2001 and has served on Fleet Town Council as a Loony Party member.
He asked the “good people of Eastleigh” not to get confused with Labour, Conser-vative, Liberal or “any other pretenders”. 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. He became party leader in 1999 following the death of Screaming Lord Sutch.
“Eastleigh holds fond memories for us, for it was in 1994 that Nigel Farage first stood for UKIP and famously beat Lord Sutch by only 169 votes,” said Mr Hope, who has been involved in many high-profile elections, including standing against Cameron, George Galloway and Michael Portillo.
“Eastleigh has other memories for me as in the seventies I was the lead vocalist of a pretty well known country band called Three Wheel.
“Many will probably remember me from the wonderful country music nights in the Crown Hotel and other various venues around southern Hampshire.”
He added: “In this election we are called the ‘Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party’ as a mark of respect to our sponsors,” said Mr Hope who has vowed to moved from Fleet to Eastleigh if he wins the seat.
“One thing that does not help Eastleigh at the moment is the car parking system. It needs to encourage people to come there, not fine them when they do.
“Some free parking creates a happy environment."
The Liberal Democrats hold the seat following a 3,864-vote majority in 2010. The other candidates are Colin Bex (Wessex Regionalists), David Bishop (Elvis Loves Pets Party), Jim Duggan (Peace Party), Ray Hall (Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party), Maria Hutchings (Conservative), Diane James (UK Independence Party), Iain Maclennan (National Health Action Party), Kevin Milburn (Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”), John O’Farrell (Labour), Darren Procter (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Danny Stupple (Independent), Mike Thornton (Liberal Democrat) and Michael Walters (The English Democrats “Putting England First”).