They say we should judge a man (or woman) by their deeds, not their words.
This is never more than case than for politicians.
Croydon Central’s MP Gavin Barwell reckons he’s got away with it again. He claims he was vindicated and that no action was taken against him over what he is now saying was a Tory-funded recruitment letter which he sent to hundreds of constituents – of whatever political affiliation, and of none – in a desperate attempt to drum up support in Addiscombe and other wards in his marginal constituency. In the body of that letter, Barwell somehow forgot to mention that he is a member of the Conservative Party.
Barwell did not forget to stick an official-looking Portcullis emblem at the top of the letters though – suggesting strongly to many that the letter asking them to come forward as candidates for the local elections (recruitment problems for Croydon Tories, Gav?) was sent on official Westminster business. Which it most assuredly was not.
Undeterred, when a constituent asked perfectly reasonably questions about the propriety of the letter – was it being paid for by public money through Barwell’s taxpayer-funded constituency office? Was any time spent on the letter by Barwell’s state-funded constituency staff? – Barwell continued to send out similar letters.
Barwell clearly doesn’t enjoy having his conduct as a publicly funded elected representative held up to scrutiny. There remains strong causes for suspicion that Barwell and his parliamentary staff – who include three Tory candidates in the forthcoming local elections – spend a disproportionate amount of their time on party political work, towards the MP’s re-election in 2015, rather than on what they are paid to do, which is work for their constituents.
He has accused the constituent who filed the enquiry of wasting “…people’s time with false accusations one of which was so laughable it wasn’t even investigated”.
Somewhat indignantly, Barwell accuses his constituent, in exercising a legitimate constitutional right to hold his MP to account, of in some way trying to gag the MP and his staff. “Your continual attempts to restrict free speech are really rather frightening,” Barwell declared on Twitter.
It is, of course, utter nonsense. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, quite properly, had asked Barwell to confirm the source and funding for the stationery used in his disguised political recruitment letters.
Barwell maintains that, “I was trying to encourage people of all allegiances to put their names forward”. He is clearly taking the voting public for fools if he thinks that that excuse is in any way credible.
Out of well-placed caution, Barwell’s letter had included (in small print) an imprint from the local Conservative Party. Barwell says that he did that, “To show who paid for it”.
So Barwell is now claiming that he got the Conservative Party to pay for what he also says was a non-political letter distributed to his constituents. Seriously.
We will leave Inside Croydon’s loyal reader to judge for themselves whether the complaints against Barwell’s deceiving letter with the unauthorised use of the Portcullis emblem really were rejected out of hand, as he claims.
Take a look at the heading of the “official” letters “Barfwell” sent out to constituents last year, and compare them to those he has been sending out since his run-in with the authorities at the House of Commons.
NOW YOU SEE IT
NOW YOU DON’T
- Desperately devious: Barwell appeals to women of Addiscombe
- Parliamentary watchdog investigates Barwell’s begging letter
- Parliamentary standards commissioner rebukes MP Barwell
Coming to Croydon
- St Patrick’s Night celebration, Ruskin House, Mar 17
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood Cemetery, Mar 20
- South Norwood Lakes Playground group workshop, Mar 25
- David Lean Cinema: Basically Johnny Moped, Mar 27-28
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- David Lean Cinema: 12 Years a Slave, Apr 3
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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