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The Vocal Local: The madcap misadventures of a Tory MP

In all the hoo-ha around the Scott Benton and the Blackpool South by-election you may have missed that over in the neighbouring constituency of Fylde the incumbent Tory MP has been having a ‘mare of his own. Tim Christian tells the tale.

At 3:15am one morning in December last year, Mark Menzies MP, who has held the seat of Fylde for the Conservative party since 2010, telephoned a local Conservative party activist to say he had been locked in his flat by “bad people” and needed £5,000 to pay them to let him out and that this was a “life and death” matter.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the activist was less than thrilled at the idea of coughing up this money, however when contacted about the situation Menzies’ office manager decided to provide the cash from her own pocket instead, and by this point had risen to £6,500. This was then reimbursed from a bank account holding money from donors for a local campaign fund.

Which raises two questions really, who’s got £6,500 easily available to hand in the year of our lord 2024, and why at no point during this episode did anyone think calling the police might not be a bad idea?

Anyway, this bizarre episode might have gone unreported except that the activist who Menzies had initially contacted decided to pass on her concerns to the Conservative party and, in the midst of an investigation in the situation and following a call between Menzies and the Tory chief whip, it was reported that he had agreed to relinquish the party whip and continue to sit as an independent MP until an investigation was completed.

“We love Mark Menzies, the Bad People” – sign spotted on the Fylde. (Facebook)

Despite his insistence that he “strongly dispute(s) the allegations”, Menzies has now coincidentally announced that he has left the Conservative party and will not be standing at the next election, which he states is due to “pressures on myself and my elderly mother”. The investigation into the incident concluded that it could not demonstrate a misuse of funds (is paying off bad people must be considered an occupational hazard for Tory MPs?) but did identify a “pattern of behaviour that falls below the standards expected of MPs” which, as we shall see, is putting it lightly.

So ends the political career of an MP who has quietly been in the midst of various scandals during the course of his career. In other financial “patterns of behaviour”, Menzies also demonstrated a shocking disregard for the advocation of nationalised healthcare by allegedly dipping into that ever-accessible campaign fund to pay for private medical bills on numerous occasions, adding up to £14,000 worth of care, none of which has ever been paid back. I mean, none of us want to go to the Vic especially, but that’s perhaps a little excessive.

Nor does his history stop at dubious financial transactions. During the Last Night of Lytham Proms in 2023, Menzies allegedly arrived at this prestigious event drunk during the performance of Katherine Jenkins, made his way to the VIP section and, on finding no seats had been reserved for him, began kicking chairs and poking people in the front row (an accusation which a source close to Menzies insists is untrue but who does acknowledge that he had too much to drink. He didn’t poke anyone, they say, but may instead have been excessively vigorous in waving a flag. Patriotic to a fault is our Mark). Anyway, long story short, event security had to intervene to prevent him from further disturbing the attendees who had paid to be there.

A source close to Menzies said the canine was a regular drinker anyway (I promise, I am not making this up)

Most famously, Menzies was the subject of a Sunday Mirror investigation in 2014 that claimed he was paying a 19 year old Brazilian sex worker for sex and drugs, which led him to step down from political roles he was holding at the time. He claimed, rather diplomatically, that “a number” of the allegations were untrue. It is left up to the imagination of the reader to decide which. Now, I’m not one to judge what consenting adults do in their spare time, but you would imagine that a sitting MP might have better judgement than to get caught out in the sort of situation that would (and did) set a tabloid editor’s palms sweating and heart racing, but here we are.

Probably the oddest accusation however (and my personal favourite), is the one that sees him getting drunk at a party (a pattern emerges here), plying a friend’s dog with booze and when said friend objected to Menzies intoxicating the animal, starting a fight with him (the friend, not the dog) that then spilled out onto the street. Once again, a source close to Menzies chirped up to claim that he had nothing to do with getting the dog drunk, but that said canine had actually been drinking alcohol that had been left out after the owner had fallen asleep and that the dog was a regular drinker anyway (I promise, I am not making this up). Menzies denied any involvement and stated that the police had dismissed any such claims against him. The dog was not available for comment, but did require veterinary care for alcohol poisoning.

So goodbye Mark Menzies, we hardly knew you. Along with the Scott Benton saga, and the somewhat milder ongoing accusations of financial misdeeds of the Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, Paul Maynard, so completes the trio of Fylde coast Tory MPs under the spotlight for something or other (weird how this keeps happening, huh?). You weren’t entirely bad I suppose, you did at least speak up against the party line and made statements in the Commons opposing fracking. You didn’t vote against it, but it would be greedy and presumptuous of us to expect otherwise of our elected representatives, wouldn’t it?

Menzies will remain as an independent MP until the next election and, if past elections are anything to go by, the good people of Fylde will have the opportunity to vote in their next blue-rosetted representative and enjoy whatever madcap misadventures they will bring to the table. I can hardly wait.

Unless…

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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