A POLITICAL chameleon who hopscotched his way through six different parties during his career believes his "maverick" attitude is exactly what Tottenham needs as he launches his bid for the seat. Elizabeth Pears talks to former boxer Winston McKenzie who hopes to deliver an electoral blow to incumbent Labour MP David Lammy as a member of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
Say what you like about Winston McKenzie — and a lot has been said about Winston McKenzie, not all of it flattering — his dogged approach to gaining public office is commendable.
After limping in at last place with just 5,389 votes in the 2008 London mayoral elections as an independent, the youth worker boasts he is now fighting fit for battle at the General Election in May.
Before his bid to become London's first black mayor, Mr McKenzie, 53, had been a Conservative Party member but jumped ship after failing to make the party's mayoral candidate shortlist in 2008.
At the last General Election, in May 2005, he polled less than five per cent of the vote as a Veritas candidate in Croydon North which cost him his £500 deposit.
He blamed the then party leader, and founder, MP Robert Kilroy Silk — best known for his daytime talk show — for lack of support.
In 2003, Mr McKenzie polled 0.94 per cent when running as an independent candidate in a Brent East by-election. This was preceded by flirtations with Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
He has now returned to UKIP, which he first joined in 2004, after the party he started in 2009, called Unity, failed when it lost financial backing.
UKIP has attracted criticism for its restricted immigration policy although its main focus is a total withdrawal from the EU. But Mr McKenzie said it is the only party brave enough to let members speak their own minds.
Mr McKenzie, of Croydon, south London, said: "I can understand people may be surprised I have joined UKIP but I would urge them to put any pre-conceived ideas to the side and just listen to what I am saying. I agree the UK should withdraw from the EU. We have been too focused on Europe. Perhaps if we didn't, we would start considering doing more business in Africa and the Caribbean.
"I am a maverick. I am unique. And the UKIP party is supportive of that. They are happy to let me voice my opinion. I'm not afraid to tell it like it is. That's the problem with politicians these days. They have to toe the party line. That's the problem with David Lammy. He is a career politician. And deep down, I'm sure he knows he could be doing more for the people of Tottenham."
At the top of Mr McKenzie's agenda is rebuilding the family, reducing youth crime and teaching people who live in deprived areas like Tottenham how to make their own money.
He said: "It's time communities realised you can't rely on the Government to help you. Labour has failed to uplift poor communities. Boris [Johnson] has failed to address the problem of crime on our streets. With my entrepreneurial skills, I will show people a way out of poverty and show the youths a way out of crime."
Schools and housing for the elderly are also high on Mr McKenzie's agenda.
In 2004, the sports enthusiast, and elder brother to three-time world boxing champion Duke McKenzie, founded the Croydon Youth Games, a mini Olympics-style sporting event. However, the games faced heavy criticism from parents in its maiden year for poor organisation.
Mr McKenzie said he now goes into schools and colleges as a positive role model to young people.
Other candidates hoping to win over Tottenham voters in the 2010 elections include current MP David Lammy, who has held the seat since 2000, barrister David Schmitz (Lib Dem), criminal barrister Sean Sullivan (Tories), local campaigner Anne Gray (Green) and independent Neville Watson.
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