Another year, another party looks in prospect for Winston McKenzie, if anyone will have him now, after he was disowned last night by his own UK Independence Party over his latest homophobic comments.
McKenzie’s “colourful” political career has seen him run for office as an independent (twice), and been a member of the Conservatives, a Liberal Democrat and a member of the Labour, Unity and Veritas parties before he found his way to UKIP. He has never won enough votes actually to be elected to public office.
McKenzie’s latest remarks came after he had re-tweeted a link to a National Front supporter’s views on the adoption of children by gay couples.
In an interview with a local newspaper, McKenzie said, “A caring loving home is a heterosexual or single family. I don’t believe [a gay couple] is healthy for a child… There are people out there who bring up their kids encouraging them to believe they are gay themselves.”
McKenzie, whose eccentricity always looked likely to embarrass UKIP, had to be slapped down by David Coburn, the London chairman of the party, as he risked undermining the public sympathy that the party was getting following the Rotherham adoption scandal.
“Mr McKenzie absolutely does not speak for UKIP on the issues of gay marriage and gay adoption,” Coburn said unequivocally. It is not known whether this statement was cleared by his party leader, Nigel Farage.
“UKIP’s stance on gay marriage is simple: we entirely, wholeheartedly support equal rights for couples regardless of their sexuality.”
When Farage visited Croydon last week, he had to dodge questions about McKenzie’s earlier homophobic campaign tweets.
McKenzie’s campaign Twitter account described the UKIP candidate as someone who “gives it to you straight”, and made other references to the Labour candidate’s sexuality.
When challenged on this by Inside Croydon, McKenzie, the Walter Mitty of south London politics, condemned his own campaign’s tweets, describing them as “low” and instructing his assistant to have them removed.
Yet within a day, the @VoteWinston account was proclaiming: “You bend if you want to, vote UKIP for straight ahead – Labour Lambeth + Steve Reed bring unwanted bender to Brixton + snarl up the traffic”.
It is not only McKenzie who is sending out conflicting messages about UKIP’s stance on some issues. “I don’t want to make gay marriage an election issue in this campaign,” McKenzie told Inside Croydon.
But ahead of Farage’s Croydon tour last week, his party issued a press release in which it quoted Farage as saying, “Winston McKenzie is the only candidate in this by-election that is opposed to the imposition of gay marriage which is what most of the faith communities would ultimately have to conduct such ceremonies in places of worship.
“Winston intends to make this a major issue in this campaign.”
After McKenzie ran a less than impressive campaign earlier this year as a candidate for the London Assembly, even his selection as candidate for Croydon North by-election has managed to split the UKIP’s small, borough-wide party, such was the despair that some local members felt about the choice of a candidate prone to eccentricities. The latest outburst will only confirm their reservations.
National media coverage of the Rotherham adoption scandal might have helped to carry UKIP into third place in Croydon North. But it seems quite certain that come November 30, there will be a post-election reckoning for McKenzie.
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- UKIP’s Farage to campaign in Croydon against gay marriage (insidecroydon.com)
- Ukip byelection candidate calls gay adoption ‘child abuse’ (guardian.co.uk)
- UKIP candidate McKenzie fails to deliver his own brothers (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon North’s sense of neglect holds key to byelection (guardian.co.uk)