Winston McKenzie, the controversial UKIP parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, has been snubbed for a televised debate on foreign aid being staged in Thornton Heath later this week.
The debate is organised by a Sri Lankan children’s charity, and the high-profile panel includes the local Labour MP, Steve Reed OBE, Sutton MP Tom Brake from the LibDems, former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, and charity executive Tom Drake. The event might have been a perfect opportunity for McKenzie, UKIP’s “Commonwealth spokesman”, to be taken seriously as a political candidate. For once.
But according to sources within UKIP, when the debate organisers heard that McKenzie had been suspended as the chairman of the Lambeth and Croydon North branch of UKIP, they opted to approach Nigel Farage’s party’s national HQ. It was decided that UKIP’s deputy leader, Suzanne Evans, might be a more reliable spokesperson for them than their gaffe-prone local man.
This loss of profile will be a bitter blow to McKenzie, both politically and personally. He appears to relish being in the limelight, despite the repeated blunders he has made when given exposure on television and radio.
Thursday’s debate would have also been a rare opportunity to have McKenzie on the same stage as Reed, a noted gay activist. In the 2010 by-election campaign in Croydon North, McKenzie spoke out against single-sex couples being able to adopt children, remarks which saw his own party colleagues forced to apologise (not for the first, nor last, time).
If the decision to use Evans at this week’s debate, rather than McKenzie, was made by UKIP’s national officials, it may also represent further confidence ebbing away from McKenzie within his own party.
Although McKenzie has been suspended as a branch official in a branch which has also been suspended, UKIP has until now maintained that McKenzie remains their General Election candidate for Croydon North.
Maybe even Farage, who has hitherto been a firm backer of McKenzie’s unique charms, has begun to lose faith in his biggest fan. After “the Chump from the Dump” compared his party leader to Jesus Christ last month, Farage had to endure being followed for the day by a Christ-a-like; he did not appear best pleased.
Of course, if McKenzie wants to go along to be part of the audience at the debate in Thornton Heath on Thursday, he could always try booking a ticket to be part of the audience, by clicking here.
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Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema, Leviathan, Jan 13
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Jan 14
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, The 78 Project Movie, Jan 15
- Child Aid Lanka foreign aid debate, Thornton Heath, Jan 15
- Youth Games cricket team trials, Thornton Heath, Jan 16
- Storytime (for under-8s), Oval Tavern, Addiscombe, Jan 17
- David Lean Cinema, Hannah Arendt, Jan 20
- David Lean Cinema, The Imitation Game, Jan 22
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Storytime (for under-8s), Oval Tavern, Addiscombe, Jan 24
- David Lean Cinema, Night Will Fall, Jan 27 (Holocaust Memorial Day)
- David Lean Cinema, Kon-Tiki, Jan 29
- Storytime (for under-8s), Oval Tavern, Addiscombe, Jan 31
- Soul Symphony Community Choir taster session, Feb 3
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4
- Storytime (for under-8s), Oval Tavern, Addiscombe, Feb 7
- Tales of Love, Lost and Found, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 7
- Uninvited Guests, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 11-13
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Rosie Wilby, Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 27
- Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson, Stanley Halls, Feb 28
- Holmes Alone, Spread Eagle Theatre, Mar 6
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Mar 11
- Iain Lee, Spread Eagle Theatre, Mar 14
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Eagle Improv, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 8
- Anatomy of the Piano, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 15
- Patrick Monahan, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 16-17
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
- South Norwood Community Festival, July 5
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