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Flashback Friday: Lord Buckethead, Trolling Tory Prime Ministers Since 1987

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In honor of the British General Election yesterday (pause for laughter), I bring you something a little different this week. A little trip into quirky British political culture where absolute nutters exploit the rules so they can take the piss out of the whole system. Perhaps none more ludicrous, and wholly committed, than Lord Buckethead* who has run for political office three times.

Its now a bit of a tradition for these oddball candidates to stand on a stage with top Members of Parliament and have their names read by a posh announcer with complete seriousness. The Guardian has a brief feature about the candidates that stood this year, including Elmo, Mr. Fishfinger, and some blokes from the Monster Raving Loony Party. And yes, they do have their own manifestos.

The character of Lord Buckethead is lifted from a low budget American spoof of Star Wars. Known as Gremloids in the UK, it was released on VHS in 1984. The Telegraph has some fun background on the film here. From what I can tell, his first appearance in British politics was in 1987 where he stood against Margaret Thatcher in Finchley representing the Gremloids party. Lord Buckethead where he ran on a platform for the building of a new spaceport, that may or may not have involved destroying Birmingham in the process. Plus free sweets.

He appeared again in 1992 to stand against then Tory Prime Minister John Major in Huntingdon. His head reads “See My Video Out Now”. I’ve been unable to confirm what that video is, but I wonder if perhaps he’s referring to the Gremloids movie on VHS?

Continuing with the tradition of creating ridiculous photo ops for Tory Prime Ministers, Lord Buckethead stood again this year against Theresa May in Maidenhead.

Who Is Lord Buckethead?

Buzzfeed attempted to verify if it was indeed the same person running all three times in costume, but was unsuccesful. What is clear, at least from his Wikipedia page, is His Lordship is intended to be political satire. That he only runs against Tory Prime Ministers is evidence he has a strategy in mind. Perhaps because of the laughable nature of his candidacy, it is very difficult to find press about the public’s reaction to him. That is, prior to the advent of the internet and social media. In 2017, Lord Buckethead can tell you directly what he’s all about on Twitter. For obvious reasons, he makes for excellent viral content.

A recurring theme in the press that has mentioned him and other fringe candidates over the years is that his inclusion in the election process proves Britain is a vibrant democracy. Although if we take a look at what Lord Buckethead ostensibly stands for and when he chooses to make himself known, we might come up with a different idea. These candidates are not in earnest about winning, they are playing at something much larger. They begin as court jesters attempting to dismantle the hypocrisies and absurdity of actual policies, but perhaps through the media’s love of spectacle they and their message get lost in the joke. That Lord Buckethead feels his presence is needed is a signal that someone thinks all is not well with British democracy.

This is what he had to say to the Slough Express about his decision to run this year:

Did I choose to stand in the election? You might say I was compelled. I intercepted countless earth transmissions complaining that your country currently lacks effective opposition. Nature abhors a vacuum, so here I am.

It even says it in his 2017 Maidenhead poster, he is a protest vote. There’s even a subtle hint that Buckethead is against the “burqa ban” that’s become popular on the continent, as part of his platform is to keep all full facial coverings legal.

 

So that’s the takeaway, ladies and gents: if Lord Buckethead shows up calling for total annihilation, its because he thinks that’s exactly what the current party in power is doing. 

* Lord Buckethead was falsely identified by a number of people on Twitter as one of the Knights Who Say Ni from Monty Python. 

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  • ThresherK

    quirky British political culture where absolute nutters

    But you repeat yourself.

    I’d never heard of Lord Buckethead before. However, the UK is the same place which brought us The League of Gentlemen and Scarfolk Council.

  • kayden

    I’m kind of glad we don’t have those type of ridiculous candidates running here in the U.S. Seems frivolous and not all that funny. Politics has serious consequences and right now given what the GOP is doing in Congress, I take politics very seriously.

    And you whippersnappers can get off my lawn while you’re at it.

    • malraux

      Joke parties wherein everyone understands it’s a joke seems preferable to joke candidates that somehow get taken sorta seriously. Gary Johnson here being most emblematic, but also Green Party.

      • CP

        Indeed. If there are going to be joke candidates anyway, and there always are, they may as well be up front about it and at least provide some entertainment value instead of droning on about how the vaccines cause autism or the Post Office is unconstitutional.

    • HowardBannister

      You meant that as snark, I presume?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermin_Supreme#2016

    • NonyNony

      In the US we elect our ridiculous over the top parody of a real person candidates to be president.

    • twbb

      “I’m kind of glad we don’t have those type of ridiculous candidates running here in the U.S”

      I can safely say that whoever is behind Lord Buckethead is literally more qualified and has more dignity than our current President. That is not hyperbole.

  • RD

    The original Buckethead was Michael Lee, founder of Vipco, who distributed Gremloids/Hyperspace in the UK and stood in ’87 and ’92 as a publicity stunt to sell videos. No idea about this new guy though.

  • Taylor

    The Monster Raving Loony Party is life imitating art. It started with parodies of British politics on Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the Goodies in the 1970s (imagine an unctuous announcer giving the names and affiliations of the candidates as their names are read out in the announcement of the election result). There was a Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel running in a by-election in 1981, using a candidate’s name from Monty Python.

    Personally I find it of a piece for Brits’ tolerance of their quirky eccentrics (like Patrick More and Magnus Pike), and therefore somewhat endearing. Still, Sarah Olney lost to the execrable Zac Goldsmith by only 45 votes….

    Wikipedia claims that MRLP intends “to offer itself as an alternative for protest voters, especially in constituencies where the party holding the seat is unlikely to lose it and everyone else’s vote would be quietly wasted.” I have more of a concern with the likes of Russell Brand, who make it cool for young people not to vote. You could have said the same thing about George Carlin in the US.

    • bexley

      Still, Sarah Olney lost to the execrable Zac Goldsmith by only 45 votes….

      True but there wasn’t an MRLP candidate there so they weren’t to blame. There were only Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP candidates running.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I’m not sure it started with MPFC. (I’m an American, but just guessing.)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screaming_Lord_Sutch

      He first ran in 1963. I’m not sure if the National Teenage Party was silly… or very silly.

      • Richard Gadsden

        The National Teenage Party was campaigning to lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18. They succeeded.

    • petesh

      Check out the Manicfesto [sic] of the Monster Raving Loony Party.
      http://www.loonyparty.com/2017-general-election-manicfesto/

      Their chief policies … Amongst their chief policies are …

      We will nationalise crime to make sure it doesn’t pay …
      The Loony party propose that voters will get a 30 day cooling off period during which, if you change your mind, didn’t like the result, or didn’t know what you were voting for, you can get your vote back. …
      We shall replace the Trident missile.. with a three pronged fork …
      We will change the English symbol of three lions to 3 badgers. How often do you see lions running round the countryside? …

  • njorl

    Can lords run for seats in the commons?

    • sibusisodan

      Not without de-Lording themselves first (forget the technical term, but the law was changed to allow AW Benn to do it).

      • Jeff R.

        Since 1999, hereditary peers can run for seats in the commons, as long as they’re not one of the 92 representative peers elected by their, uh, peers.

        The term to “de-lord” is “disclaim a peerage.” Tony Benn was the one pushing for it. The conservative Earl of Home disclaimed his to become PM. You had to disclaim within a year of inheriting the title.

      • Mrs Tilton

        Up to a point, Lord Copper. Bear in mind that not everybody in the UK called Lord Somethingorother is in fact a lord.

        Unlike the continentals, whose nobility (or former nobility) is a highly debased coinage, the British are parsimonious when it comes to blue blood. Only the holder of a title by right is a nobleman or noblewoman. A peer’s offspring are commoners, though if he is an hereditary peer his eldest son (or daughter, if his is one of those titles that can travel down the female as well as the male line) won’t be once he pops his clogs.

        However, it is the practice that the eldest son of a nobleman who has multiple titles may use one of them as a courtesy title prior to the old man’s death. And if the current peer ranks high enough, even his younger sons are addressed with a generic “lord” (and his daughters with “lady”). Hence in Brideshead Revisited we have the Marquess of Marchmain over in Venice with his bit on the side, while his sons the Earl of Brideshead and Lord Sebastian are back in Blighty. The latter two would have been perfectly eligible to stand for the House of Commons.

        Indeed, in real life, Michael Kerr, the Earl of Ancram, was (intermittently) an MP for years until he succeeded his father as Marquess of Lothian and became a “real” nobleman. (While slumming in the Commons, he preferred to go by “Michael Ancram”.)

        Once you’re in the House of Lords, it’s true that you cannot serve in the Commons. But you can disclaim your title and thereby become eligible to be an MP.

        And that was before Blair’s reform of the House of Lords. Though a member of the HoL still cannot (without disclaiming) serve in the lower house, these days most holders of hereditary peerages – actual noblemen, not merely users of a courtesy title – have been deprived of their places in the Lords. They too are eligible for the Commons, and I believe some of them have in fact been elected as MPs.

        Lord Buckethead is probably part of that group.

      • Gregor Sansa

        And isn’t there some mini lordship thingy that they temporarily give to people who need to resign from the House of Commons so they can take some other job? Marquis of Whiting-Fishsticks or something?

        • It’s not a lordship, it’s an “office of profit under the Crown”. Traditionally the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds.

        • Jeff R.

          You can’t be an MP and have an office of profit under the crown at the same time. So to leave the house of commons you ask to be appointed Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds or of the Manor of Northstead. They’re not lordships or anything. When the Sinn Fein MPs resigned a few years back they pretty much mocked the whole procedure.

          • Mrs Tilton

            That one cannot simultaneously be an MP and hold an office of profit under the Crown isn’t the problem. It’s the solution. The problem is that there is, technically, no way to voluntarily resign one’s position as MP.

            That the solution is not to, oh I don’t know, pass a Resigning From Parliament Act, but rather to bestow upon the departing MP a meaningless, purely notional office, thereby automatically deMPifying him, is perhaps the most wonderfully English thing ever.

            • Jeff R.

              Right, it’s the solution. As Gerry Adams said when he was told he had accepted the position of crown steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead:

              “I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system.”

  • Thom

    But does Buckethead perform for Lord Buckethead?

  • NewishLawyer

    Google tells me that Paula Poundstone was in Hyperspace!!

  • thylacine

    Lord Bucket head is sound on several issues, such as fox hunting.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ocSWe70GSGo

  • Doug Gardner

    I would be remiss in not reminding readers and Python fans of Election Night Special, laid out in analytical detail here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Night_Special

  • Hondo

    If someone tried this here in the US, the police would probably shoot him. We have no sense of humor over here anymore. We are all “in fear for our lives”. Especially the police.
    A woman was arrested and charged for giggling during the Jeff Sessions (aka Nathan Bedford Forest) confirmation hearing.
    A reporter was assaulted by a candidate for asking an uncomfortable question, another was arrested for the same offense directed at an exec branch administrator.
    We don’t fuck around here in the States like you clowns over there. Everything is serious business here. Life and death, shoot first and don’t ask any questions afterward, comply or die. Enough is enough.

  • rea

    Theresa May is really the Member for Maidenhead? Well, it is true that she and her husband don’t have children . . .

    • cpinva

      “Theresa May is really the Member for Maidenhead? Well, it is true that she and her husband don’t have children . . .”

      i wondered how long it would take, before someone brought this up. longer than i expected, actually.

  • tomstickler

    Vermin Supreme ran for President in 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermin_Supreme

    Daughter 2 got a nice pic with him wearing his boot headgear.

  • the shadow

    Buckethead’s manifesto calls for proclaiming increased support and funding for Trident while quietly dismantling the program and using the money for peaceful purposes. They’re secret submarines, no one will notice!

    Strong if not stable leadership.

  • twbb

    Could someone familiar with UK political processes explain how the costumed people get on stage consistently? I mean I know in theory the PM can be anybody, and I can see very occasionally as a joke by the organizers of these public ceremonies, but it seems like they’re there by some sort of right. Is it if you get any number of votes you can put yourself for PM or something?

    • sibusisodan

      Standing for election to parliament requires the support of 10 members of the constituency and a £500 deposit.

      You don’t need to be a member of a party. You do need to be an adult citizen. There are a few other restrictions: you can’t be in jail, a bishop, dead, etc.

      That’s it. If you get 5% of the vote, you get your deposit back.

      This all makes it easy for satire/protest candidates who often cluster round the PM’s constituency to make a point.

      • twbb

        Ah, interesting, thanks.

      • ASV

        What would happen in the extremely unlikely event that Lord Buckethead won? I assume this person was on the ballot as “Lord Buckethead,” which is to say, nobody knows who they really are.

        • sibusisodan

          They have to give their legal name & identification to the Electoral Commission as part of registering to run.

  • It makes me feel better to know that the Monty Python sketch is based in reality.

  • DocAmazing
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