Mystery over what happened to McKenzie’s election donations

The “Chump from the Dump” has suffered another election knock-out. But as WALTER CRONXITE reports, the wannabe politician doesn’t always lose his deposit

Farewell to Westminster dream? Is Winston McKenzie about to bid goodbye to his distant hope of running for parliament?

Winston McKenzie: the only way he’ll ever get to Westminster is by train

Being an ex-boxer, and a not very good one at that, Winston McKenzie should be familiar with the need to have someone in your corner prepared to throw in the towel to stop their fighter taking too much of a beating.

So after they counted up the votes last night for the Witney by-election, someone really ought to step in and stop the “Chump from the Dump” from taking any further electoral punishment. Unless, of course, McKenzie’s candidacy in elections is his way of raising money from unsuspecting supporters.

Yesterday, standing for his latest political party, the far-right English Democrats, McKenzie finished 12th of 14 candidates, the voters of an entire parliamentary constituency giving the perennial deposit-loser fewer votes than he got in a ward by-election in Croydon earlier this year.

In the by-election prompted by former Prime Minister David Cameron flouncing out of parliament (where will he get his next job? Brussels?), McKenzie polled the grand total 52 votes (he got 70 votes in Thornton ward in May).

That placed McKenzie behind someone calling himself “Dickie Bird”, though not the cricket umpire, and standing for UKIP (how that must have stung McKenzie).

McKenzie was also taken less seriously by the voters of Oxfordshire than the candidate from the Monster Raving Loony Party.

And by someone standing for the “Bus Pass Elvis Party”.

Even “Lord Toby Jug”, of the Eccentric Party, managed to get seven votes more than McKenzie.

Now, psephologists tell us that McKenzie’s poor showing in Witney should not be taken as an indicator that the English Democrats are entirely a busted flush: up at Batley and Spen yesterday, in the by-election called after the murder of Jo Cox, the English Democrats were crassly opportunistic to put up a candidate. And some people actually went to the trouble of voting for them, in significantly larger numbers than they voted for the English Democrats in Witney.

No: the reason for Winston McKenzie’s cringe-makingly poor showing in Witney was Winston McKenzie.

Robin Tillbrook: says that McKenzie is one of few people prepared to stand as an English Democrats candidate

Robin Tillbrook: says that McKenzie is one of few people prepared to stand as an English Democrats candidate

Even the chairman of the English Democrats, Robin Tilbrook, has come close to admitting that McKenzie was only selected as a candidate for Witney because… well… there wasn’t much of a choice.

“We are a small party, and we don’t have very many members who are happy to put their heads above the parapet when it comes to standing in by-elections,” Tilbrook said. Pressed on how many people actually offered to stand for his party in Witney, Tillbrook said “a couple of candidates”, but he refused to provide any further detail. It sounded very much like McKenzie was the only volunteer.

“We are happy to have Winston helping us in the campaign,” Tillbrook said.

‘A slightly weird thing to say’

Tillbrook also attempted to clarify what happened to thousands of pounds raised earlier this year in an abortive attempt to put South Norwood resident McKenzie on the ballot paper for the English Democrats as a candidate for Mayor of London.

It is worth noting that McKenzie’s time as a leading figure within UKIP came to a bitter end last year after he and Lady Bowness, his frequent companion and the sometime treasurer of the local UKIP branch, were suspended by that party during an investigation over the unaccounted spending of supporters’ donations.

The London elections came just a couple of months after McKenzie quit UKIP, claiming to have discovered that some of its members are racist. He then had a short-lived appearance on Non-Celebrity Big Brother, as the token politician, where he hoped to raise his “profile”, and some party funding. That quickly went pear-shaped when he was chucked out after a week as his homophobic bigotry was exposed.

Winston McKenzie's tweet from last month, where he claimed he had paid £20,000 in cash at City Hall

Winston McKenzie’s tweet from last month, where he claimed he had paid £20,000 in cash at City Hall. This is untrue

For the Mayoral election, McKenzie and Marianne Bowness failed to get the nomination paperwork completed satisfactorily. In a city of more than 6million people, McKenzie somehow managed to get himself nominated by someone who had already nominated another candidate.

McKenzie had been trying to crowdfund his campaign, asking for donations from the public, with a £60,000 target to pay towards leaflets and other expenses. He needed £20,000 of that just as a form of deposit and to pay towards the cost of the official election booklet to be distributed to households throughout the capital.

London City Hall: proper devolution of power and money would see our city treated as one of Europe's powerhouses

City Hall, where Winston McKenzie did not pay over £20,000 to run in the London elections. What has he done with the cash since?

McKenzie claimed on Twitter that “£20,000 was paid in cash at City Hall” for the London election.

But a couple of calls by Inside Croydon have shown that claim by McKenzie to be untrue.

Officials who supervised the election process for the Greater London Authority have confirmed that no money was paid by McKenzie for his unsuccessful nomination.

Even Tillbrook, a solicitor by profession, has confirmed that McKenzie paid over no money, saying that the Chump’s tweet was: “A slightly weird thing to say.”

Tillbrook said, “I went with Winston and his assistant…”, meaning Bowness, “to the London Assembly building. We didn’t make the payment.”

Tillbrook said that the £20,000 has been raised “partly by the party, partly by the candidate”. When McKenzie’s nomination papers were rejected, no payment needed to be made to the authorities. “It was nothing untoward,” Tillbrook said. “The money was proffered, but it was not paid. Our money, we kept. His money, he keeps.”

Tillbrook was unable, or unwilling, to detail how much of the £20,000 had been contributed through McKenzie’s fund-raising activities. “I can’t remember off the cuff,” he said.

What appears to have happened, whether through accident or design, is that Winston McKenzie walked away from City Hall that day with several thousand pounds in money which had been donated in good faith for the purpose of his standing in the Mayoral elections.

What remains unexplained is what efforts, if any, McKenzie has made in the past six months to return any of that money to his various donors and supporters after he was unable to use it for the purpose intended.


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to Mystery over what happened to McKenzie’s election donations

  1. mraemiller says:

    It’s not about how hard you can hit
    It’s about how hard you can get hit
    And keep moving backwards

  2. davidjl2014 says:

    Of what significance to anyone living in Croydon is the result of the Witney by-election? Just because a resident of Croydon was idiotic enough to stand in it means nothing to individuals living in this borough. Unless of course you are Walter Cronxite. I thought this “man of mystery” only reported on issues that affected Croydon. Maybe a Chief Executive in Witney is planning a takeover of the Croydon Council. Only Walter knows!

    • He’s from Croydon. His conduct, including handling of thousands of pounds of campaign funds, some of it donated by supporters based locally, has obvious relevance.

      You really don’t get how local news works, do you?

      • davidjl2014 says:

        If it can be proved that funds donated for a campaign to be London Mayor were then used to support a bi-election in another part of the country, then you may have a “local” case in point. But you don’t. You really don’t get how politics work, do you?

        • You don’t do reading very well, do you?

          There’s no suggestion that McKenzie used any of the funds donated earlier this year to campaign in Witney.

          There’s just no evidence of him spending any of that donated money on any campaigning, as it was intended, nor of his attempting to return the money to his donors.

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