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Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
June 19, 1999 LONDON
LONDON – David Sutch, who brought a chuckle to British politics as leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party with the slogan: “Vote for insanity – you know it makes sense,” has died at age 58.
He was found hanged Wednesday at his northwest London home by his partner, Yvonne Elwood, who said that although Sutch had fought a long battle with depression he seemed happy in the days leading up to his death.
A friend said he was taking anti-depressants, and Scotland Yard said they were treating the death as suspicious.
Known as Screaming Lord Sutch, he was Britain’s longest-serving party leader and although he was never elected despite running in scores of races, one of his party members, Alan Hope, was once elected mayor in a town in southwest England.
Rivals from across the political spectrum paid tribute Thursday to the veteran election campaigner who with his top hat and gold lame suit blared his party’s madcap policies through a rusty loud speaker from one corner of the land to the other.
“Screaming Lord Sutch will be much missed. For many years he made a unique contribution to British politics,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. “Our elections will never be quite the same without him.”
Hope said Sutch had been in good spirits when he spoke to him on the phone 10 days ago. But, he added, “He was taking lots and lots of pills – Prozac, I don’t know what.”
Sutch, who legally changed his name to add the “Lord,” founded the Monster Raving Loony Party in 1963 and first ran for Parliament in 1964. He went on to fight some 40 elections over a period of more than 30 years.
He wanted to know why there was only one Monopolies Commission. He wanted to turn the metaphoric “butter mountain” created by agricultural subsidies in Europe into a ski slope.
He once proposed that joggers and the unemployed should be compelled to power a gigantic treadmill to generate cheap electricity, and on one occasion he unsuccessfully tried to get his dog Splodge nominated at a London election.
Sutch and his followers campaigned in such a style that was to the intense irritation of earnest candidates but to the delight of the massed ranks of Britain’s voting population.
And at least one of his policies – all-day pub opening – later became a reality.
During the 1960s he was a rock singer, and until recently performed up to 250 concerts a year throughout Europe.
Sutch never married but leaves a 24-year-old son, Tristan, from his relationship with American model Thann Quantrill, who once helped him contest one of his first elections by riding naked through a town on horseback.