UPDATED 7pm Nov 25: Scroll down for more information
Another example of a Croydon Tory organising a secret “public” meeting.
Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, he of the dodgy election expenses accounts and the complaints about all those ‘orrible foreigners turning up at Lunar House, is staging a “public” meeting this Friday, November 26, to discuss the hot topic of the moment, student tuition fees. Except he is being rather coy about where the meeting is taking place.
The notice of the meeting was posted to Barwell’s website only on Monday, inviting people to apply via his parliamentary secretary, though not offering the essential detail of the venue (this is similar to an event staged in Croydon with Deputy PM Nick Clegg earlier in the year, where the attendees were strictly screened).
“I know from my postbag that lots of people feel strongly about this issue so I have organised a public meeting on Friday 26th November at 7.30pm at which I can hear first hand what my constituents think of the Government’s proposals and, given the constraints on public spending, how they could be improved.”
Of course, Barwell can only “hear first-hand” what his constituents think if any of them can actually attend the meeting. But by restricting attendees to those who apply via his office (to email@example.com), there’s a strong possibility that Barwell is able to hand-pick those he wants to attend.
Although Barwell – a close aide of top Tory tax-dodger Lord Ashcroft – is originally from Croydon, he sometimes exudes a sense that he would really rather avoid the hoi polloi and riff-raff (what other MPs might call “constituents”). His maiden speech in Parliament spoke of Croydon’s “image problem”. So maybe that’s why he organises public meetings and then doesn’t tell the public where they are to be held?
Judging by comments he published last month, Barwell – privately educated at £10,000-a-year-plus Trinity School, and then benefiting from a three-year university course at Trinity College, Cambridge – appears to have made up his mind already.
One of the main tests of the Government’s, his Government’s, tuition fees proposal, Barwell wrote, is “whether pupils from less well-off backgrounds would be put off from going to university.” No shit, Sherlock. If someone, or their parents, don’t have nine grand a year spare income, they ain’t going to be going to university, now are they?
Barwell also pondered whether shorter courses, hosted at institutions other than universities, might offer a “better” further education experience. He gives the example of some people doing a degree course in just two years while staying at home. Which basically amounts to not going to university, surely?
Perhaps you want to offer the public school-, Oxbridge-educated Barwell your views on how his Government’s tuition fee plans might affect ordinary people?
If so, make sure you and as many of your friends contact his office: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you might try phoning 020 7219 3000, and ask for Mr Barwell or Jennifer Clark.
UPDATE: Slapped wrist at Inside Croydon Towers for not checking the broader interweb, for while Barwell has not bothered mentioning the time and venue of his own meeting, others have. It is being held at Coloma Convent Girls’ School, in Upper Shirley Road, Croydon, from 7.30pm on Friday.