UKIP has strongly denied that the assault was racially motivated. A spokesperson for UKIP said: “Jamie Ross McKenzie was given a police caution for common assault a number of years ago. Any claims of racial abuse were thrown out. He informed the party back in 2014 when he was applying to be a parliamentary candidate.”
Despite admitting full knowledge of this incident, UKIP continues to elevate Ross McKenzie to ever-higher status within the party. He is understood to be close to new leader Diane James, having helped organise her successful leadership campaign. Last weekend she awarded him the privilege of giving the closing speech at UKIP’s 2016 conference.
The assault is the latest of a series of controversies surrounding Ross McKenzie, who has previously come under fire for appearing to encourage the racist and sexist trolling in UKIP’s YI facebook group. Ross McKenzie, who is an admin of that group, posted a picture of himself posing with a gun with the caption: “Now where’s the cucks?” immediately after he was elected YI Chair.
“Cuck” is a derogatory term used by far-right trolls who define themselves as “Alt Right” (essentially a new vanguard of white nationalists), a number of whom populate the YI Facebook group. Under Ross McKenzie’s leadership, YI also invited figures from the European far-right to speak at UKIP’s 2016 Youth Conference.
Rather than disciplining Ross McKenzie for his terrible track record and clamping down on the disturbing elements at work within the YI, Diane James has stated that both he and the Youth Wing are to play a much more central role in UKIP as its “ambassadors”.
While James is attempting to appeal to young voters and redefine UKIP’s identity post-Brexit and post-Farage, the message she gives by promoting someone of Ross McKenzie’s increasingly dubious reputation is that UKIP is happy to ignore serious issues when it is politically expedient.