Less than a year after joining the English Democrats from UKIP, Winston McKenzie, the failed politician who has never won an election in his life, now wants to challenge for the leadership of his latest party.
But McKenzie will have to wait at least until March, because the English Democrats do not – as yet – have any procedure in place for a leadership challenge.
And Robin Tillbrook, the chairman of the English Democrats since the party was formed in 2002, says that he is “unconcerned” about the possibility of a challenge from the Croydon-based McKenzie, who has been dubbed locally as the “Chump from the Dump”.
And anyway, Tillbrook has seen McKenzie in “action” in an election.
McKenzie has been a member of at least seven political parties, as well as standing as an independent candidate in various elections. The latest, when he stood for the English Democrats in the Witney byelection in October, saw him finish a sorry 12th of 14 candidates, polling a grand total 52 votes. That was fewer votes than the candidates from both the Monster Raving Loony Party and the Bus Pass Elvis Party, and seven votes less than “Lord Toby Jug”, of the Eccentric Party.
“Winston would probably do better in elections if he wore a red nose and a silly hat and just admitted that he was a joke candidate,” a Croydon resident who knows the failed ex-boxer said.
McKenzie has been telling anyone who’ll listen that he will fund his campaign for the leadership of the 3,000-member-strong English Democrats with the money raised from an £135-a-head dinner he staged for the party’s London region on board a yacht in the docks in August.
But Tillbrook, speaking to Inside Croydon today, appears remarkably relaxed about the prospect of McKenzie’s having a well-funded leadership campaign.
“I don’t think very much money was made,” he said. “I think the event just about broke even,” he said.
Tillbrook is well aware of the controversial circumstances of McKenzie’s departure from UKIP 12 months ago, when that party was investigating the handling of branch campaign funds by McKenzie and his devoted aide, Marianne Bowness (the former wife of Lord Bowness, a past leader of Croydon’s Conservatives).
Tillbrook also knows that questions remain over what happened with the thousands of pounds of cash which McKenzie never paid over as his “entry fee” for his abortive London Mayoral candidacy earlier this year.
And that might be one reason why Tillbrook insisted today that the treasurer of the English Democrats is awaiting a formal report on the finances of McKenzie’s boat fund-raiser, “in case we have to inform the electoral commission”.
Tillbrook says that his party’s national council is working on drawing up a set of procedures for a leadership challenge, in case they are needed before the completion of his latest two-year term as chairman. He expects the new process to be ready by the time of the English Democrats’ spring conference in March.
“We’ve never really had a situation before where someone has challenged for the leadership,” Tillbrook said. “We’ve had one or two instances where someone has said that they would challenge for the leadership, but in the end they haven’t got round to it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to challenge. I’m unconcerned either way, actually.”
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