There was a large sigh of relief last night, audible from Purley to Katharine Street, as Tories across the borough realised that UKIP, the political “party” of own-goals and self-inflicted injuries, was about as much of a threat in Croydon at the 2014 local elections as the Monster Raving Loonies.
The party that has given us “Bongo-bongo Land”, an assault on a Channel 4 News reporter and become notorious for suggesting that a woman’s place is cleaning behind the fridge (all the handiwork of one MEP, the self-acclaimed jokester Godfrey Bloom, who is now ex-UKIP) is at war with itself in Croydon.
Winston McKenzie, the ex-boxer and long-time failed politician, used the announcement of his candidature in next May’s local elections for South Norwood to launch an attack with greater ferocity than ever he managed during his career in the ring.
But McKenzie reserved his verbal blows not for his likely Labour or Conservative rivals for a place at the Town Hall, but on the reputation of a colleague from his own party, Peter Staveley.
Croydon Central’s Tory MP Gary Barlow [SICK] [SIC] was not wrong when he highlighted McKenzie’s comments on Twitter, saying, “If you live in
Croydon and are even *thinking* of voting UKIP in next May’s local elections, read this first…”
McKenzie, the wannabe politician for whom the concept of engaging brain before opening mouth has never been learned, is clearly still bitter about how he was regarded, or more accurately disregarded, 12 months ago when running as UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in the Croydon North by-election and he openly suggested that adoption of children by gay couples was “akin to child abuse”.
Those remarks made the front page of the Metro freebie newspaper, won him the title of “Idiot of the Week” from one website, and he made it on to the local early evening television news bulletin for all the wrong reasons just a couple of days before the election.
Staveley tried publicly to distance UKIP from McKenzie’s remarks, telling Inside Croydon, “Myself and most members of UKIP in Croydon are appalled at the way Winston said it… I hope that residents of Croydon will forgive UKIP for allowing this to happen and will be willing to vote for UKIP candidates in the Croydon local elections plus the European elections in 2014.”
It seems that Staveley, who chairs UKIP for Croydon Central and South, has had his hopes dashed as far as the party’s presence in Croydon North is concerned. McKenzie is chairman of UKIP in Croydon North, and he is clearly bitter at his party colleague’s stance a year ago.
“Peter Staveley is a terrible bloke,” McKenzie said in an interview with the Sadvertiser, who have realised that dialling the rent-a-quote’s phone number is an easy way to get a couple of decent headlines.
“I have tried my upmost to make peace with this guy but he doesn’t seem like one of these people who is with it. He is one of these blokes, how can I put it, he’s just not compos mentis. The guy has a split personality. I’m sick to death of hearing this all the time. Everywhere I go I’ve got this guy slandering me.
“I think he needs to go and see a psychiatrist. All Peter’s out to do is undermine me because I happen to be a more popular bloke than he is. I really wish he would stop.”
It is not known whether the Dorking-based non-local newspaper obtained the advice of a lawyer before publishing McKenzie’s claims.
“UKIP are doing so well but we’ve got one or two weirdos in Croydon who really bring the party to shame.” A UKIP candidate describing UKIP members as “weirdos”. And the world eats itself…
McKenzie, of course, has no doubts whatsoever about his own political acumen. “UKIP weren’t going anywhere under him,” he said of Staveley, “so I basically rode him out of his position as the No1 man in Croydon. He’s dead jealous of me. I’m well known. I make no bones about that. I’m not showing off.
“I’m a credible candidate,” McKenzie said. He apparently believes this to be the case. “I have proved just how good I am for the party, so I don’t understand Peter’s untimely comments.”
“Credible” McKenzie has in the past decade been a member of the Liberal Democrats, has run as an independent at Brent East by-election, joined Veritas (remember them?) for a few months, quit while attacking his erstwhile party leader, re-joined a little later, then quit again to become a Tory, but opted to leave them when they preferred to nominate Boris Johnson as the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, he ran against BoJo as an independent, and finally washed up with UKIP. We may have missed a couple of other changes of party allegiance in all of that.
McKenzie finished third in last November’s Croydon North by-election, the first time he has managed to retain his deposit in a public election.
Staveley, meanwhile, probably after trying to work out whether there’s now any point in any UKIP candidates standing in next May’s council elections, was a study in diplomacy compared to his party colleague. “I have to accept the party leadership’s opinion that Winston’s good points outweigh his bad points,” Staveley said, presumably trying to stifle laughter as he said it.
And then we reminded ourselves of UKIP, the party of Godfrey Bloom and “Credible” Winston McKenzie…
Coming to Croydon
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10
- Stanley Lives – open day in South Norwood: Oct 12
- Trafficked – slavery on the screen: Oct 14
- Crystal Palace Concerts – “I have a dream”: Thu Oct 17
- Lakes Playground group’s fundraising Zumba-ween: Oct 26
- PJ’s enterprising look at Black History Month: Oct 29
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- Farage: I will stand as MP in 2015 (bbc.co.uk)
- Clean Up Croydon! (cleanupcroydon.com)
- Tory donors abandon David Cameron for Ukip (itv.com)