Here’s the strongest squad of freaks ever assembled, who could take on any opposition: past or present, at home or abroad.
Finalise your fantasy teams, book out your Saturday afternoons – a new season is here for Britain’s favourite spectator sport; yes, that’s right, Parliament. The freaks, saddos and weirdos we elect as regional delegates have fresh terrain to demonstrate just how cretinous they’re capable of being in the public eye. This is where legends are made.
But how does this current crop stack up to the chamber’s long and illustrious history of cast-iron, heavens-to-Betsy freakazoids? To find out, we prepared a longlist of Parliament’s greatest oddballs. Said longlist was way too long, so we had to be brutal, limiting ourselves to frontbenchers, cabinet ministers; people who actually had some kind of sway over state apparatus. Then we trimmed down harder: no monsters or nonces or squares, but those imbued with intangible freakiness.
What we were left with was nothing short of the strongest squad of freaks ever assembled – the 1970 Brazil side of freaks, who could take on any opposition past or present, at home or abroad. If you thought the 2019 intake was bad, then let us introduce you to: Freaks United.
william ewart gladstone
The mutton-chopped weirdo is arguably the most successful freak ever to infiltrate the Premier League of British politics, with Queen Victoria confiding in Benjamin Disraeli that she earnestly believed ‘The Grand Old Man’ to be insane. His hobbies include prostitutes and tree-chopping. Believes he has access to a divine ‘higher gift’ which enables him to flawlessly read public opinion.
Born and raised in Southampton, but having declared for the Czech Republic, the goalie the fans call ‘Agent Kolon’ is a key member of the squad – with an unfortunate tendency to go missing before vital games.
This porn-obsessed peer will range up the wing for a through-ball and/or a strip show in Copenhagen. The lanky coot will go in two-footed on any gay players who come his way. Always losing his shin-pads.
Bringing up the rear it’s this one-time academy star and reliable performer on the right. Hague’s been a rinky dinky lil’ weirdo since his first appearance aged 16 under the eye of that great spotter of freak talent, Margaret H. Thatcher.
Hancock’s freak versatility justifies his inclusion in the starting XI. Whether it’s teenage fumbling with his SpAd sweetheart in a ministerial stairwell, pivoting to turtlenecks-and-crypto mere hours after returning to the backbenches, or appearing on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (before having the whip immediately removed), here is a young star who shows us the future of modern freakery.
One of the grumpiest freaks in the game, Heath will hope that a friend’s summary that ‘he was far too selfish to be gay’ will put to bed any lingering rumours about his sexuality and help him to get on with his key on-pitch freak skills of social awkwardness and dyeing his hair strawberry blond to hide the fact he was greying.
The totemic apex of the weirdness of Blair’s Britain is likely to put in a solid half or so before an inevitable red card. Whether it’s porn films or prison labour, a natural ability in the classic workshop of freakery – the comic political scandal – has set her up well. However, the gaffer will worry that an insatiable craving for media coverage might threaten her midfield performance.
norman st john-stevas
Midfield engine of any freak squad in British political history, the team captain has been known to perform heroics against the forces of sanity. A legend in his own lifetime, a player whose utter bizarreness will ring through the ages.
An explosive talent – although one more known for his time spent falling over than staying on his feet – Brown slips, between sips, past even the wiliest of oppositions. Just don’t expect him to be first in training the next morning.
Who’s that surging down the flank with the incandescent urgency of the 16th Punjab Regiment? It’s the mercurial Powell, dazzling his dedicated ultras section with a very classical style of freakery. A stalwart of the side who will cling on to his starting spot until it’s pried from his wrinkly hands.
While he has a certain aggressive flair on the pitch, his dressing room tantrums are another matter. A recent keenness to perform in Europe has obscured his real zeal for domestic freakery: owners are advised that they bring family pets to games featuring this striker at their own risk.
Rangy, elegant but more than a little bit erratic, Eden is any defender’s nightmare – just ask former teammates Harold Macmillan and Rab Butler, who spent a whole year of their lives trying to get rid of him. Can do the business domestically but loses his composure in international competitions.
freaks in focus
MEET THE SKIPPER!
Norman St John-Stevas ©
A champion weirdo who spent his entire life acting in a strange and affected manner and yet still ended up in the cabinet. At Cambridge, the frivolous Stevas appeared on That Was the Week That Was. When asked by David Frost about the colour of his shirt: ‘What’s that – purple?’ ‘No,’ replied Stevas, ‘crushed cardinal.’
He affected the flamboyant mannerisms of an Edwardian aesthete (proffering his hand in papal fashion, lapsing into Latin, deliberately mispronouncing modern words). At his Northamptonshire rectory he amassed an impressive collection of Victorian bric à brac and royal memorabilia, including photographs and mementos of the royal family and a pair of Queen Victoria’s undergarments. One room in his house was a shrine to Princess Margaret, the other to the reactionary Pope Pius IX.
His high camp wasn’t only limited to the past: he appeared in a promotional video for girlband Bananarama, dancing to Robert De Niro’s Waiting in the back of a chauffeur-driven Jaguar. After his sacking from the cabinet in 1981 – in part because he insisted on addressing Thatcher as ‘Tina’ – he went back to Cambridge to run Emmanuel College where he shocked the Puritan dons by hosting a nude swimming party in his lodgings and having the college guest room redecorated ‘to look like a whore’s boudoir’.
At the age of three, Powell was known as the ‘Professor’ by his parents, owing to his proclivity to stand on a chair and describe the stuffed birds in his parents’ house, like a normal child would. This precociousness carried on into his university days; at Cambridge, Powell became almost a recluse and devoted his time to studying: on days without lectures or supervisions, he would read solidly from 5.30 in the morning until 9.30 at night.
Whilst his wartime career was a success – rising from the ranks to become a brigadier – his bizarre behaviour meant he was mistaken as a spy for not one, but two, Axis powers. One evening a soldier heard Powell singing Horst Wessel Lied, the Nazi anthem, and ended up putting him under guard. Another time, Powell was jaundiced and refused to go back home for treatment. He told his parents that he was ‘yellow all over’. This, combined with his stiff mannerisms, meant that Powell was mistaken for a Japanese spy.
After the war, Powell was driven yet madder by the loss of British India, which he had wanted to be viceroy of since he was a child. He spent three days wandering around London like a maniac to make up for it. He spent his political career making mad interventions, like suggesting that Britain nuke Washington and claiming Jesus had not been crucified but stoned to death. In the end, the lifelong Brummie fell out with the Tories and became an Ulster Unionist MP. When once asked how he would like to be remembered, he at first answered, ‘Others will remember me as they will remember me.’ But when pressed he replied, ‘I should like to have been killed in the war’.
TARZAN SWINGS IN!
Heseltine’s weirdness was first noticed at Oxford where, unable to find someone to go with, he was reduced to advertising in student magazine The Isis for a partner for a college ball.
On leaving university he started up a boarding house hotel in the hope that he would make his millions, waking up especially early in order to mix the margarine in with the butter. This was clearly worth it as soon Heseltine had moved into mansions and was hosting parties for fellow freaks. One evening saw condoms hung from the candelabra. On another occasion, when he organised a party for his sister Bubbles, an American sergeant put his shoes and socks in the punch bowl.
Soon, politics was treated to his brand of weirdness. His friend, Julian Critchley, said of him, as you would of a totally normal person: ‘Michael knows how to find the clitoris of the Tory Party’. Not so of his boss, and his egotistical tantrums when foiled by Thatcher became infamous. Now he is one of the Grand Old Freaks of British politics – furiously appearing on Newsnight and managing to grab headlines one final time by admitting to strangling his mother’s dog to death: ‘If you have a dog that turns, you just cannot risk it.’
Longford, a cabinet minister under Harold Wilson, despite the paranoid PM believing that he had ‘the judgment of a 12-year-old’, rarely stayed in a job for longer than a year, such was his deeply odd behaviour. While running a Home Guard unit in the War he had managed to shoot himself when automatic weapons were introduced. ‘He said “This is nice”, and promptly shot himself through the foot,’ a soldier recalled. ‘He was one of the most absent-minded people I have ever met.’
This continued in his political career: his forgetfulness meant that he had three overcoats and on one occasion he lost all three – one at Paddington, one in the House of Commons and one at Christ Church. Once, he mistook his wife’s hearing aid for a piece of pasta and ate it.
However, the weirdness went deeper: he became a close friend of Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley and spent decades campaigning for her release. Alongside work as the biographer of Irish statesman Éamon de Valera, Longford’s other great passion was latent homophobia and prudery, which inspired him to go on a long visit round a series of strip clubs accompanied by, inter alia, Gyles Brandreth and Cliff Richard.
George Brown, who became ‘George Brown, Baron George Brown’, was the man for whom the phrase ‘tired and emotional’ was first used. A Times leader in 1967 said ‘one would not invite him to cucumber sandwiches with one’s maiden aunt’: his main hobbies were drinking and picking fights. Examples of the latter included with Clement Attlee when he tried to replace him with Ernest Bevin; with Ernest Bevin, when he didn’t tell him about his plan to replace Attlee; a shouting match with Nikita Khrushchev after a drunken dinner; a physical fight in a TV studio with actor Eli Wallach when he was supposed to be paying tribute to the just assassinated John F. Kennedy; the wife of the British ambassador to Paris, who he insulted at a drunken dinner; and Barbara Castle after he tried to unbutton her blouse in the division lobby.
The infamous story about him attempting to drunkenly dance with the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima during the playing of the Peruvian national anthem is thought to be apocryphal, but what is attested to is the incident at the UN when, as foreign secretary, he tried to eat a bunch of artificial grapes. His erratic behaviour and drinking continued long after his cabinet career was over. Towards the end of it, after falling over outside the House of Lords having given an hour-long drunken ramble about a television programme he’d watched, he remarked, ‘I knew that would happen.’
THE INCREDIBLE SULK!
A member of the public described an encounter with Heath thus: ‘An unmistakable vowel sound made me look up and there, less than three feet across the sauna, was no less a naked figure than the Rt Hon. Edward Heath, Prime Minister. Later I swam over to where he was standing in the shallow end and asked him why they didn’t have a pool in No 10. “That would be far too modern for them,” he said, with a mix of sadness and anger.’ It was for behaviour such as this that he was nicknamed ‘The Incredible Sulk’.
Heath’s weird, detached behaviour was renowned. At one dinner party, his hostess noticed that it was still at the soup stage and Heath had already fallen silent. She wrote a note, delivered by the butler, which said, ‘Talk to the women next to you.’ Heath wrote back, ‘I have.’ During one of the 1974 election hustings, the campaign bus braked suddenly and a female aide was thrown right to the front, where Heath was sitting. She protested that the bus should continue its journey, but she was clearly hurt, and Heath would have none of it. ‘No, no,’ he said. ‘We must get some brandy.’ The bus stopped at the nearest pub and a glass of brandy was brought on board. Heath drank all of it, and then the bus drove on.
This blowjob-crazed politico is one of the greatest nutters to ever set foot inside Westminster. Variously obsessed with Anglo-Catholicism and being declared the direct successor to Aleister Crowley – the founder of modern Satanism – Driberg only ever made the shadow cabinet, though quite how he made it that far was a mystery, given that his greatest obsession was cruising for sex. Eventually, left-wing politics, high Anglicanism and sucking off soldiers took over from Satanism but he did pick up one lifelong habit from Crowley: he always drank milk in Indian restaurants because ‘the Beast advised it’.
He was caught hundreds of times administering blowjobs to all sorts, from taxi drivers to poets to a Norwegian sailor in an Anderson shelter during the heaviest night of the Blitz. He tended to say that he engaged in near daily oral sex on doctor’s orders (‘The potassium ingredient is frightfully good for one’). Churchill said that he was ‘the sort of person who gives sodomy a bad name’.
It’s thought that Driberg’s erratic behaviour resulted in him being forced into spying for the Czechslovaks after ‘an incident at a urinal’. He was pals with the Krays, who it’s thought helped arrange parties that involved men from the East End defecating on glass coffee tables. Driberg’s lust for gossip almost equalled his love of sucking people off and so he filled his diary with massive boozy lunches to try and harvest new victims: but it all caught up with him when he suffered a massive heart attack in the back of a taxi from Paddington.
freaks united (est. 1215)
Palace of Westminster,
London SW1A 0AA. (c. 650)
King Charles III (2022–current)
William Gladstone (1832–current)
GK John Stonehouse
LB Lord Longford (vc)
LCB Ted Heath
RCB Matt Hancock
RB William Hague
LW George Brown
LCM Jacqui Smith
RCM Norman St John-Stevas ©
RW Enoch Powell
CF Anthony Eden
ST Michael Heseltine
TIME FOR KICK OFF
Small, tall, nippy and wily, this side is an unstoppable force of freakery. But just imagine the talent waiting to emerge from the backbenches…