Wanted: Assistant. Suit public school-type, Tory member. £33k

Gavin Barwell: needs help

In the interests of openness and accountability, here at Inside Croydon Towers we feel it is only right and proper, while Our Gav is up in Manchester at the Conservative party conference, to give him a bit of free advertising and re-post here the job ad he placed on a Westminster website last week.

Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, is looking for a new assistant. Barwell’s (state-funded) constituency staff already includes Sara “Book Token” Bashford, the local councillor who has shut down the David Lean Cinema, who withdrew funding from the annual Croydon Music Festival (a vital plank of Croydon Council’s bid for city status, apparently), and who now wants to privatise all 13 of the borough’s libraries.

We are not sure how widely this vacancy has been advertised among Croydon’s unemployed, unless they are regular readers of Barwell’s own blog. According to Westminster payscales, the state-funded job should pay between £23,000 and £33,000 per year.

And while the ad is not explicit, we suspect that Gav might want someone who is well disposed to Conservative party policy, and possibly even someone who, like Barwell, went to a private school such as Trinity.

Posted on Friday at w4mp.org, the Barwell staff ad reads:

Gavin Barwell, Conservative Member of Parliament for Croydon Central, is seeking to appoint a Parliamentary Assistant to be based in Westminster. The ideal candidate will be highly organised and able to manage many competing priorities. They will be self-motivated, conscientious and be able to work well under pressure. Excellent writing and research skills are essential and previous experience working in Parliament or politics is desirable.

Key responsibilities:

  • Sole management of the Westminster office including:

– managing the Member’s Diary commitments, with overall control of Constituency commitments;

– ensuring the operation of the office is within the allocated budget and the Member is kept informed of all financial matters;

– ensuring a full range of secretarial and administrative support, including: telephone and visitor enquiries, responding to email and letters, efficient data and file management;

– overseeing the budget for the office including Expenditure under the MP’s Expenses Scheme, monitoring office expenditure, paying bills and invoices; providing forecast of spend and estimates when required; keeping records of all transactions; and

– ensuring the office is fully equipped and office supplies are maintained.

  • Respond effectively, courteously and independently to routine correspondence and enquiries from constituents, the media, lobbyists and pressure groups.
  • Undertake research, usually from secondary sources, on complex and difficult subjects.
  • Analyse and evaluate research and interpret data ensuring key issues are identified.
  • Prepare and present results both orally and in writing e.g. for parliamentary questions, briefing notes for committees, articles and press releases.
  • Provide briefings and potential questions to the Member and motions to be put to the house.
  • Monitor bills, Early Day Motions, legislation, Hansard, debates, etc.
  • Monitor coverage in the media, and liaise with the media when necessary.
  • Advise and guide the Member on policy issues.
  • Maintain, update and develop knowledge of relevant legislation.
  • Ensure records are kept, with details of each issue by adhering to the Data Protection Act principles and respect the confidentiality of data at all times.
  • Communicate effectively with both internal and external contacts.
  • Maintain parts of the website.
  • Occasional travel to the constituency is required.
  • Competent use of IT including Microsoft Office package, email and internet to: draft correspondence and reports; set up and maintain spreadsheets and undertake research.

Upon appointment you will be required to comply with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard, undertaken by the Members’ Staff Verification Office (MSVO).

If you fancy applying, the ad can be found online here (deadline for applications is next Monday, October 10).

And although he may not meet the “essential” requirements of “excellent writing and research skills” or have “previous experience working in Parliament or politics”, we reckon that Croydon Conservative Association activist and Barwell cheerleader “Super” Mario Creatura is a virtual shoo-in.

  • Inside Croydon: brought to you free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to Wanted: Assistant. Suit public school-type, Tory member. £33k

  1. Ah, but Mario works in PR…

    Erm, yeah. So if you write to Gavin you get his assistant. Let’s hope the person employed is quality or this will get pretty naff pretty quickly. My MP is Tory, and I have to work with that whether I like it or not. The last thing I need is a naff assistant as well.

  2. If it was already decided who was going to get the job, why post the advert. No-one would notice if an assistant was replaced behind closed doors. I think you should be applauding your MP for advertising for this role and opening it up to the wider public to ensure that as many applicants as possible are considered.

    • It is a public appointment, paid for with public cash. Therefore, they have to go through a set of procedures to advertise it publicly.

      Who Gav chooses, though, is up to him in the end.

      Which is open to legitimate speculation.

      And your assumption about who might be Inside Croydon’s MP is also inaccurate.

  3. Well I have to admit this is the first time I’ve been on the Inside Croydon page. However, it seems to have been set up pretty much with the intent of being an anti-Gavin Barwell page (which is fine, its your page you can do what you want). So I thought it was a fair assumption that he was your MP, apologies for my mistake.

    In addition, in reality, people who work for MPs (be it Labour, Lib Dem or Tory) will tend to be at the very least sympathetic to their MP’s party. I don’t think this is particularly controversial. Gavin has certainly gone out of his way and done beyond what he is legally obliged to do to advertise the position. Something he would not have done if it was already cut and dry.

    In addition your suggestion that he will be looking for someone from a private school is a complete fabrication. It is in his interest to appoint who he feels is the best candidate, he’ not just going to appoint someone based on their secondary education. I have friends who went to state schools who have worked for Tory MPs and I can guarantee you that it is not a barrier to gaining such a role.

    • Having made two false assumptions in your first comment, you now make two more entirely inaccurate assertions in your second.

      “Gavin has certainly gone out of his way and done beyond what he is legally obliged to do to advertise the position.”

      Actually, no he hasn’t. He has just done what he is required to do.

      “In addition your suggestion that he will be looking for someone from a private school is a complete fabrication.”

      We prefer to describe that as “opinion”. We will await news of the appointment with interest. But it is worth re-stating that Barwell is a governor of one of the biggest local independent schools. It is the school he attended. This does not smack of support for any of the local state schools.

      But the person we have “tipped” for the job attended a state sixth form college, so it might just be that Barwell opts not to perpetuate privilege, and instead appoints a party loyalist. Whether this results in the appointment of the best qualified person for the job, we will have to wait and see.

  4. I read the specs required. ‘Advise and guide the Member on policy issues’ is my favourite.
    ‘Provide briefings and potential questions to the Member and motions to be put to the house’ is close second.
    Shall I apply?

  5. mraemiller says:

    Well, I was delighted to be asked but had to decline on the grounds that working for a Conservative MP might possibly be seen by the unenlightened as a technical breech of the Labour Party Rule Book.

    As to Barwell and Trinity. I dont hold it against Mr Barwell for going to public school or even for sending his children to public school or even for being on the Board of Governers of a public school.

    What bothers me when the Mayor of London makes visits to independent schools and passes this off as the performance of some kind of public responsibility. They’re not funded by the state. His job is to look after the state’s finances, spending and so forth. And even if he could make an outside case that it’s all related to his role of looking after the Community he’s in …

    Also it’s a fairly good bet that those on the board of Governers of a public school may get bursaries or special deals for their children in terms of fees reductions and many schools operate a money off system if your dad went. I dont know if Trinity operates this way but my old school certainly used to. It’s only the nouveau riche who actually pay the list prices. There are also BOGOF deals for multiple sprouts.

    There’s nothing wrong with Barwell being on the Board of Trinity but when he puts on his list of Constituency activities

    Friday, September 09, 2011
    09.30 – 14.30?
    Regular meeting with headmaster of Trinity School of John Whitgift, Croydon

    I do think to myself that that’s something he should be doing in his own time.

    I mean, you could argue at a stretch that it’s still an important part of the community so he should go sometimes even if he wasn’t on the Board but when he’s there twice in the same week…?

    Monday, September 05, 2011
    09.00 Meeting with all teaching staff at Trinity school

    I mean why? Has he got a part-time teaching job?

    Okay, he does visit other schools but not as often and I’m pretty sure Trinity isn’t going to turn into a horrific sink school overnight if Barwell isn’t attending absolutely every board meeting and claiming that they’re all “Constituency Duties”.

    But maybe I’m being mean spirited…

  6. I was puzzled by some of these comments made by Jonathan here so I looked him up on twitter (@jonnycope) to comment directly and found he is a Conservative activist. Is that the reason he finds it impossible to comprehend what is self evident to others? Does he share the same blind faith that other young Conservative activists have demonstrated? It would certainly seem so. The replies from Inside Croydon to his comments are spot on.

    Very interested to hear what ‘mraemiller’ had to say too. Governor duties are certainly not the same as constituency duties. Seems that Mr Barwell is having difficulty understanding the most basic principle of governing; the need to wear different hats. It would be reassuring to see this MP makes as much effort forging strong links with other local state-run schools or driving funds their way for a change.

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