In amongst the comedy and absurdity, he had rather a good eye for political seriousness too, using the absurd to more than mere whimsical effect – and putting to shame those professional comedians who got for the easy, stale, unoriginal jokes aimed at whoever is the unpopular party leader of the moment.
In the Rotherham by-election in the mid-1990s, for example, Sutch used absurd policies about bags of cash to lampoon widely believed but, due to fear of legal action, rarely printed alleged dodgy behaviour at the council.
Al Murray’s list of ‘absurd’ policies for his Parliamentary bid in South Thanet (where Nigel Farage is also standing) has a similar substantive edge to them. I especially like the housing one:
Of course the reason they are coming here is because this is the greatest country in the world. The only way to stop them is for a government to change that and make things a whole lot worse…
I believe the children are the future and there’s no way you’ll get me knocking teachers. Teachers are on the front line, coalface. Doing their bit to create a level playing field for our kids, although I’m not sure they’re going about it the right way by making sure none of the kids can read and write. So instead of a postcode lottery a new improved Street Raffle will determine which schools your kids get in to. Common sense…
Homes for hard working families
Build some houses but without bringing down house prices. How hard can it be?
Some of Sutch’s policies came to be the norm. Al Murray’s Street Raffle has in fact already been tried out and may yet ride again to fix the problem that in many areas schools admission policies based on catchment areas now so heavily favour those with the money to buy or rent at inflated prices in the right streets to get places at the schools they want.