Top 10 outrageous Winston McKenzie moments
4:00pm Wednesday 21st May 2014
By Chris Baynes
4:00pm Wednesday 21st May 2014
By Chris Baynes
Winston McKenzie's steel-band snub and less-than-flattering comments about Croydon at yesterday's 'carnival' made Ukip the laughing stock of the nation and blew a large hole in his party's local election chances.
It would be hard to argue it was out of character.
When it comes to gaffes, attention-seeking stunts and shot-in-the-foot statements, the former boxer and would-be South Norwood councillor has form.
We've rounded up some of his more outlandish moments.
1. The election rap
Facing an uphill struggle to overcome heavyweights Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson in London's 2008 mayoral election, self-styled man-of-the-people Winston knew the perfect medium for his message: verse.
Displaying enough vocal dexterity to make John Barnes sound like Eminem, McKenzie opened with passable rhymes ("My desire is to take it to the wire and see Ken retire") but soon veered off-course into rambling so nonsensical it would seem made up on the spot if he didn't ask his cameraman for a cue half-way through.
Things reached a bizarre head when he dissed the incumbent Mayor on the grounds that he "sounds like a duck".
2. Shown the door by Simon Cowell
McKenzie's election rap was not his first foray into music. In 2005, he fancied his chances of reaching pop stardom on ITV talent show the X-Factor.
After passing the first stage of auditions, Winston was invited to show off his croon to Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh.
Sadly, he was sifted out by producers without ever facing the inscrutable glare of the music magnate and his fellow judges.
3. 'Gay parents are child abusers'
Ukip's catastrophic 'carnival' wasn't the first instance of McKenzie making controversial comments in the run-up to an election.
Six months before MPs voted resoundingly to legalise gay marriage, McKenzie was swimming furiously against the political tide by likening adoption by same-sex parents to child abuse.
In comments his own party distanced itself from, he said: "This business of gay adoption is tantamount to child abuse. It is unhealthy. The child has no chance to turn out normal."
4. Political bedhopping
What do the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, Ukip, Veritas and Unity all have in common? Answer: they're all political parties that have at one point counted Winston McKenzie as a member.
As well as flirting with every mainstream political clan, McKenzie has also run for election to Parliament, Croydon Council and the London Mayor's office as an independent, losing his deposit on each occasion.
Explaining his political bedhopping, he said: "It is not until you join a group and find out all about them that you realise this group is not for you."
5. Winston McKenzie vs Robert Kilroy-Silk
Permatanned talk-show host Robert Kilroy-Silk enlisted McKenzie in 2005 to be culture spokesman for Veritas, his newly formed party that prided itself on straight-talking. And straight-talking was exactly what he got when McKenzie quit the party following a disastrous election campaign in Croydon North, where polled just 324 votes, leaving him thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Claiming the party's founder had failed to support candidates, he said: "I'm disgusted and disillusioned with the party. I blame Robert Kilroy-Silk squarely for my disastrous campaign."
6. Founding and folding his own party
Stung by his experiences of other parties, McKenzie decided he could do better himself. He rolled up in a pick-up truck to launch the Unity Party June 2009 and announced his intention to run for election in Croydon Central.
Just four months later the wheels came off the party when its financial backer withdrew funding, forcing it to fold.
7. Pub shuts after drugs and guns raid
The Thornton Heath pub run by McKenzie and his boxing brothers lasted longer than his political party, but not by much. McKenzie Bros Bar and Grill opened in July 2001 and closed in December 2002 after a police raid led to 25 people being charged with drugs and firearms offences.
Winston, who was not arrested or charged, insisted it had closed the refurbishment. It never reopened.
8. Calling his own constituency 'a dump'
It would be folly for any politician to denounce a whole borough as "a dump", "unsafe" and "descended into depravity". When said politician is standing for election in that very same borough two days later, it is nothing short of political suicide.
9. Fashion sense
The man loves his hats.
10. The bid to buy Crystal Palace
In early 2010 McKenzie claimed to be the figurehead of a mysterious consortium hoping to hijack a bid to rescue the football club from administration.
Would the club have been better off? Watch this political advertisement of the former boxer in the run-up last year's Croydon North by-election and judge for yourself...
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