Winston McKenzie, Croydon UKIP’s “Chump from the Dump”, risks losing his grasp of control over local party matters at a meeting tonight.
McKenzie and his closest political aide, Marianne Bowness, were forced to stand down as officers of the local UKIP branch, which was suspended by Nigel Farage’s party’s national organisation while an investigation was conducted into the handling of a large cash donation.
McKenzie, the failed boxer and night club owner and UKIP’s “Commonwealth spokesman”, had been the chairman of the party’s Lambeth and Croydon North branch, while Bowness – the ex-wife of Tory peer Lord Bowness – was its treasurer. McKenzie is UKIP’s candidate to fight the Croydon North parliamentary seat at the General Election in May; while some members have been calling for his de-selection, tonight’s meeting agenda does not allow for any discussion on the matter.
The meeting was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but has been brought forward 24 hours. It aims to reform the local UKIP branches, possibly merging McKenzie’s Croydon North fiefdom with the rest of Croydon’s UKIP local operation, while Lambeth’s UKIPers get to run their own affairs.
UKIP members have been complaining about McKenzie’s lack of management and political skills, and have made it plain that they do not want him or Bowness involved in the running of any new branch. Even by UKIP standards, under McKenzie and Bowness, the operation of the Lambeth and Croydon North branch was dysfunctional.
There are rumours that McKenzie and Bowness will be absent from tonight’s extraordinary general meeting. “This can only mean they are withdrawing from the branch, and Winston McKenzie as parliamentary candidate for Croydon North,” an insider speculated to Inside Croydon.
“The party’s taken a real bashing locally,” another UKIP member said, “what with Winston’s ludicrous ‘Croydon Carnival’ last year, him saying that Croydon is ‘a dump’, that Nigel’s ‘just like Jesus’, and then three members going off and demanding a council by-election in Selhurst before the councillor’s funeral. That was not good.”
We telephoned Croydon UKIP’s dynamic duo to find out whether they would be attending tonight’s meeting, and whether McKenzie would continue as UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, where in the 2012 by-election McKenzie finished third with 1,400 votes.
We put the questions to Bowness, who hung up. Twice.
The UKIP meeting is due to begin at 7.15pm at the Waterside Centre on Avenue Road in South Norwood. On the agenda is…
“Discuss the request of Peter Kirby to join the Lambeth and Croydon North branch.” Kirby was the branch’s membership secretary, until he was suspended by McKenzie last year, causing some ill-feeling among members.
After that comes, “Discussion on how the branch should be run until May 2015”; “Election of a committee to serve until the Annual General Meeting”; and “Discussion on the organisation for the area currently served by the Lambeth and Croydon North branch after the AGM.”
But the money still matters, and item (5) on the UKIP agenda tonight is “Decide the date for a meeting to resolve the outstanding issues concerning the 2014 accounts of the branch.”
And before any rogue UKIPers get any ideas, like raising the matter of the choice of parliamentary candidate, they are warned in the official notice of the meeting that, “There will not be ‘Any other business’ item and the discussions will be limited to the items on the agenda (as required by Rule B.4.7).”
- UKIP Croydon leader forced to apologise for ‘crass’ members
- UKIP condemned for election call ahead of councillor’s funeral
- McKenzie backed as candidate but not trusted to run UKIP branch
- UKIP’s Winston McKenzie quizzed over Carnival payments
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