I met Screaming Lord Sutch in 1994. He was standing as a candidate in the Rotherham by-election after the sudden death of incumbent Labour MP, Jimmy Boyce. I was living in Rotherham at the time and he came up to me in the street and gave me a one-million pound note. I’m certain that I would not have thrown it away but I can’t find it, and since the “economic downturn” of 2008, I could really could do with finding it.
The note was an oversized, monochrome green mock of a British pound note (as I remember), and I can’t remember what he said at the time but I assume he was trying to buy my vote. I’ve always liked ephemera, so I’m sure I would have kept it, and I have always liked the aesthetics of printed money.
Anyway, with the impending UK General Election on May 7th 2015, I thought I would commemorate the untimely death of David Edward Sutch (10 November 1940 – 16 June 1999) with a new one million pound note which I will be using to buy people’s votes.
Not votes for me, but votes against the UK Conservative Party. No matter how finely you slice it, current Conservatism is the politics of greed, prejudice and inequality, and despite David Cameron’s advocacy of “aspiration”, he really means cheating, speculation and theft.
The point of this project is a satire on the corrupt nature of our financial, parliamentary and regulatory institutions.
In 2013 I made a one-X paper note as a satire on the UK banking system, and I have done some work on a three-X note, with a projected range of a one, three, seven, thirteen, twenty-three and fifty-X notes. I featured my own portrait on the obverse of the one-X note, with Stalky Ringbits (the David Bowie of memento mori) on the reverse. The thee-X note has George Orwell on the obverse and Nefertiti on the reverse, but it is currently unfinished.
The symbolism is important as well as the historic commemoration, and I have three obvious candidates for the obverse of the one-million Pseudo-Pound note – David Edward Sutch (aka Screaming Lord Sutch), Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (aka Mahatma Gandhi) and Clement Attlee (aka Major The Right Honourable Earl Attlee KG OM CH FRS PC).
I must admit that I don’t admire Sutch as much as Gandhi or Attlee, but he has a special place in my heart for his unbounded, joyful iconoclasm. Oh yes, and it was his idea.
For the reverse, I thought I would attempt to put my money where my mouth is (geddit?) in terms of equality, and feature a woman of substance. Current candidates are Mary Wollstonecraft, Mo Mowlam and Mary Shelley. Suggestions welcome.
There is a lot more to say about the notional value of money, paper or otherwise, but I am trying to keep my posts shorter, so more soon…