Dr Derek J. Ripley on the lesser-known political parties of Lancashire
PUBLISHED: 11:47 07 May 2015 | UPDATED: 17:57 19 January 2016
Our resident historian Dr Derek J. Ripley takes a look at some of the smaller, stupider parties vying for our votes
This month, across our fair county, people will rouse themselves from the comfort of their sofas, put their coats on and pop out to put crosses on slips of paper. After they’ve bought their lottery tickets, some of them will vote in the General Election.
It used to be said that you could stand a pig in a red rosette and they’d get elected in certain parts of Lancashire. In 1956, Cicero, a three year old Gloucester Old Spot, found himself accidentally elected to South Chorley District Council. It was almost four months before the result was quashed.
Lancashire is almost equally divided between Labour and Conservative voters, but there are signs that this year more people will be voting for one of the smaller, fringe parties. The Monster Raving Loony Party, the Fancy Dress Party and the Lib Dems are all relatively well known. But I wonder how many are aware of the following parties?
Lancashire People’s Party
The LPP is a regionalist party which campaigns for the establishment of a Lancashire Parliament similar to the Scottish Parliament or National Assembly of Wales. Its policies include the construction of a defensive barrier along the border with Yorkshire, the restoration of Todmorden to Lancashire and the annexation of parts of Cumbria, the Wirral and most of Cheshire (especially the wealthy bits) to create a ‘Greater Lancashire’. It has had limited success in the past. At the 1964 General Election, it proposed a ban on the sale of white roses, except on Mother’s Day, but its call for a 50% import duty on Yorkshire puddings antagonised many Lancastrians who are partial to these Yorkshire delicacies. Proposals for a ban on anything featuring The Chuckle Brothers and the performance of Alan Bennett plays have proved more popular.
UK Science Party
The UK Science Party was founded in 2008 and campaigns for science, mathematics and engineering to have more funding, media coverage and political priority. Its policies include making science the only subject taught in schools, the withdrawal of all funding for the arts and the provision of free chemistry sets for boys under eight. Proposals to make Professor Brian Cox head of state have proved popular with female voters, but calls to reintroduce the death penalty for homeopaths alienated many voters.
The Young People’s Party
Understandably, young people are rather annoyed that they can’t have everything they want straight away and feel alienated from the main political parties. The YPP was founded in 2010 by three Preston teenagers who campaign for a minimum wage of £20 per hour for 18 year olds, subsidised alcopops, an annual £100 tattoo allowance for anyone under 21, and the abolition of alarm clocks. Its breakthrough came last year when three candidates were elected to the East Lancashire District Council. However, they never actually attended any meetings as they were held at 2pm when they were still in bed.
British Tripe Party
The BTP achieved some success in the 1960s and 1970s campaigning against cheap foreign tripe imports and would have won Wigan (Wallgate) at the 1976 General Election had the UK Spleen Party not split the offal vote. The party went into decline for many years but experienced a resurgence in 2002 when Mick Griffiths was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for Lancashire (Central). The party won over 50 seats at the local elections the following year.
Older People’s Party
Understandably, many older people get rather annoyed that, as a result of low interest rates, their income from savings has fallen dramatically. The OPP believes it is scandalous that, of the half a million people who die every year in the UK, a staggering 39% are over the age of 85. The party campaigns for no VAT on biscuits, slippers and comfortable (but ugly) shoes, and for more garden centres and golf courses. In 2007, three party members were elected to the council in the OPP’s West Fylde heartland, but they never actually attended any meetings as they were held on Wednesday evenings and clashed with bingo.
So there you have it. I hope you have found this brief guide helpful and wish you luck in choosing the successful candidate on May 7th. And in case you’re wondering, I will be putting my cross where I always put it. In the box which says ‘No Publicity’ on my lottery ticket.
For more of this madness buy Forgotten Lancashire and parts of Cheshire and the Wirral by Derek J Ripley. To purchase a copy go to www.forgottenlancashire.co.uk