1. When Battersea Dogs & Cats home organised their “Purr Minister” competition for politicians’ moggies, little did they think that they would start a political scandal.
Nine cats belonging to MPs and members of the House of Lords began the competition by entering their “manifurstos” at the start of the month – but only seven made it to the end, following an inter-party row and allegations of electoral fraud.
2. Everything started to go wrong when the cat Bosun – entered by Conservative MP Sheryll Murray – mysteriously gained 30,000 votes in the online poll in just seven hours.
3. Labour shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne wasn’t going to take this – and said his kitten Jude was the victim of “vote-rigging”.
5. Gwynne told the BBC that he was infuriated by his political opponent’s actions and promptly withdrew his moggy in protest:
Jude, my five-month-old kitten who was fished out of a canal in Manchester, thought he had the ideal backstory. Sadly, while all the other cats were catnapping, one cat in particular seemed to clock up 30,000 votes overnight and then try to claim that his victory was due to a sudden surge in Australian votes. Clearly that was a purr-fect alibi.
6. Facing an inquiry, Bosun followed the lead of politicians throughout time and chose to resign from the race, while strongly denying all allegations of voting fraud.
A spokesman for the cat attacked Andrew Gwynne’s claims and said they would continue to support Battersea Cats & Dogs home.
“It is a shame Labour have seemed to be determined to politicise this competition and you would have thought a Shadow Health Minister would have more important things to be concerned about unless he thinks the Government is doing a great job. Perhaps he does.”
7. But finally the competition has reached its conclusion. Seven campaign-hardened cats made it to the end:
8. Seventh place: Tommy, owned by Conservative MP Greg Knight (4.9% of the vote).
Manifursto: “Don’t be a sourpuss and let our country go to the dogs. Help me lick my opponents and make our country safer by a policy of claw enforcement for the purrpatrators of crime. Paws for thought! Avoid the catastrophic catalogue of other candidates and vote Tommy.”
9. Sixth place: Monty, owned by Liberal Democrat peer Baron McNally (5.1% of the vote).
Manifursto: “14-year-old Monty followed our children to school, perched on their desks when doing homework and sneaked on the bed when they were poorly. Although he’s no goody two shoes, our three-legged cat is proof that not having all your legs to stand on is no barrier to successful cat politics.”
10. Fifth place: Paul, owned by Labour peer Baroness Quin (6.9% of the vote).
Manifursto: “Badly treated in my early life, I spent months at a rescue centre. Despite adversity I am deeply loving and forgiving. Friendly and sociable, I enjoy welcoming visitors to my home. Handsome too – well in a rotund, classical, moggy sort of way!”
11. Fourth place: Parsnip, owned by Conservative MP Mark Spencer (10.2% of the vote).
Manifursto: “The return of free milk, improved fishing rights for the UK, banning of all fur products, muzzles for dogs, open season on grey squirrels, 1p levy – donated to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – for every cats eye used on the highway.”
12. Third place: Scaredy-Cat, owned by Labour MP Sarah Champion (20.3% of the vote).
Manifursto: “Scaredy-Cat’s the name but don’t let that fool you - it takes a lot to freak miaow-t! I’m already Top Cat around the rugged old streets where no furry felines give me any cat-itude - making me paws-itively your Number One marvellous moggy!”
13. Second place: Montague, owned by Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson (22.8% of the vote).
Manifursto: “I have trained Justin & Jo to provide treats and attention on call. To keep them in check, I’ve formed a coalition with my sister Maggie and Susie the scruffy rescue dog. My interests are food, sleeping and miaowing loudly throughout the night which I think Justin & Jo appreciate.”
14. The winner: Kevin, owned by Labour MP Bill Esterton (29.8% of the vote).
Manifursto: “Kevin brings a weight of experience to the job and will happily represent fat cats everywhere. He takes a laissez fur approach to life in general but fights hard to be top cat in our household against recent feline arrivals. Kevin has 16 years of eating and (mostly) sleeping to call on as valuable experience.”