As the Conservative Party leadership contest bumbles towards its very tedious conclusion, with David Cameron's Blair impersonation standing him in excellent stead for the throne, it has never been more clear that what the people of this country really need is actual political choice. At the moment it's just dead. The Respect Party seem to have fallen into a coma, with barely a squeak from them since May - excepting the increasingly dubious if still refreshingly singular pronouncements of George Galloway. In terms of realistic choices, our political situation at the moment is very much aligned with Bill Hicks' summation of 80s America - it's a choice of two puppets, both being held up by the same guy. Where is the *real* alternative? Well, this week, it appears to be on eBay.
As anyone who's ever managed it will tell you, the really difficult part of setting up a political party is the actual 'setting up' of said political party. Not the manifesto. That will come easily over a quickly-convened focus group and a bottle of Napoleon Brandy. Thatcher Brandy if you're feeling particularly ruthless. Either way, a doddle. The really tough part is the paperwork, and convincing the UK Electoral Commission to confer official political status. Wouldn't it be great then, if someone had already done that work for you? Well, happily, someone has. Ruslan G. Fedorovsky has. And now he wants rid.
We caught up with Fedorovsky earlier in the week and asked him just how difficult setting up the MP3 Party - for such is its name - had been. 'Don't remind me,' he sighed, his Russian accent resonating with perfect comic tragedy. The first problem was a dispute over the availability of the name 'MP3', which was originally chosen either to reflect the same values of rebellion and anti-capitalism of a growing army of internet file-sharers, or else merely to cash in on the same. This dispute took Fedorovsky to Spain and something akin to the European Court of Copy Rights. From there back to the Electoral Commission with the happy news that the term 'MP3' was public property. However, the UKEC just wouldn't buy it. In the end, Fedorovsky had to go to
Siemens, who wrote a letter on his behalf explaining that the term 'MP3' was definitely not actually owned by anyone. Fedorovsky took this along to the Electoral Commission, like it was a note excusing him from games, and finally 'MP3' was accepted and the process could continue.
Unfortunately, in terms of paperwork, that was just the beginning of the nightmare. Fedorovsky complains that 'every day paperwork bigger than VAT, house and Inland Revenue combined arrived. All useless reports about nothing.' Even today he admits, he is 'still getting lots of stick from them'.
Against all the odds however, Fedorovsky finally got the MP3 party up and running in July 2002. Part genuine attempt to ring some changes across the British political system, part PR for his audio books company, the MP3 Party lays its cards on the table on the homepage of its site:
'Some of us are not very liberal, many are not very green. Generally, we are not especially nice and several are outright dangerous. We all have different ideas and beliefs. We will sort what is right and what is wrong on the way, but first let get things rolling, pots boiling, sausages sizzling.... Let us became a Power, after that we would have plenty of time for intellectual discussions, arguments and "bondings". If you feel being a part of "mp3-generation" join us now! Let kick some shit together!'
Stirring stuff, we're sure you'll agree.
So, this fine, potentially revolutionary political party went on eBay this week, with a starting bid of two grand. But you probably want a little more information before you reach for your credit card. Here goes. The MP3 party now has around 8000 members. It has a slogan, borne of its contention that British politics is unnecessarily complicated. That slogan is: 'Elect us and we will delete one regulation per day, one law per week, one subsidy per month and one tax per year.' However, apart from striving for a land free from bureaucracy, and indeed laws, the MP3 Party did manage to string together a bunch of semi-coherent policy proposals. For example, 'Any new housing development, beside the usual utilities (gas, electricity, water, telephone), should be provided with broadband (cable, ADSL or fibreoptic) connection'; 'Clean up UK rivers to be safe enough for people to swim in'; 'We will ban qualified lawyers from being elected to Parliament or local government'; 'We would allow anyone to adopt any "royal" title (e.g. tzar, king, super-king, shah, emperor, sultan, procurator, etc. etc.) provided this title is not taken already and at least 100 UK citizens agree to be his/her "subjects".' We particularly like this last proposal, although Fedorovsky insists that the new owner of the party will be free to change any or all of the current proposed policies to suit.
In 2002 Fedorovsky wrote: 'MP3 PARTY is a very beginning of a proactive and practical organization that is planning to take power in the United Kingdom.' The Daily Mirror concurred, saying, 'this is almost certain to get apathetic voters off their backside'. So what the hell happened? Why is he now hawking his political vision to the highest bidder? 'We are not doing anything with it,' he admitted. 'No one has the time to do two things at once. We need energetic people to move it forward.'
His political ambitions by the wayside, Fedorovsky is now devoting himself full-time to his bread and butter job, the day-to-day flogging of his audio books. 'Google "audio books for free",' he says proudly. 'We are number one.'
If someone does buy the MP3 Party, 'everything will be transferred, same as any other company'. Fedorovsky will have no further involvement, unless the new owners would like him to stick around in an advisory capacity. 'Would be nice' he says. So far, there has been some 'very serious interest' from Ireland, which Fedorovsky guesses is probably a commercial venture, keen to exploit the ownership of a political party for purely PR purposes. This would be a shame. It would be even more of a shame if those buggers at GoldenPalace got hold of it. But - unless someone with a conscience gets there first - that's what'll
So if you fancy your chances unseating Gordon Brown in 2021, you could do worse than taking over the MP3 party right now. But you might want to change that slogan. And perhaps also the party's name. And yes, most of its policies. Alternatively, if £150 is more realistic than £2000, you can always contact the UK Electoral Commission yourself and start from scratch.