By David Shrimpton
A west Country hotelier has been elected mayor of his local town despite standing as a Monster Raving Loony Party candidate.
But Alan Hope, the new Mayor of Ashburton, now faces expulsion from the party because it does not tolerate electoral success.
Party leader Screaming Lord Sutch is understood to be considering calling an extraordinary meeting to discuss Hope's position as the first party member to be elected to a position of power. The party has always said that members who retain their deposits at general elections would be expelled for being insufficiently loony.
Hope, proprietor of the 12-bedroom Golden Lion Hotel in the town, and a local councillor for 11 years, admitted: "I might be flung out."
Claiming to not know "the first thing" about politics, Hope said this week that he was waiting for the town clerk to call "and give me a few pointers". However, he added that he was proud to be mayor and planned to do good work for the town.
In a rare moment of seriousness, fellow party member John Rowe, proprietor of the Hotel Sydore in Torquay, paid tribute to Hope. "He's a sensible councillor. There's a lot of nonsense spoken about our party, but at least we are honest in our lunacy."
The Golden Lion has hosted annual conferences for the Monster Raving Loony Party since it was formed in 1978. Many party members were small hoteliers, Rowe pointed out. "We all must be a bit out of our tree. Who else works for about 7p an hour?"