Use your loaf, Gav: Barwell’s “Let Them Eat Cake” moment

The headmaster of Trinity School recently praised his chairman of governors and one of our local MPs, Gavin Barwell, as being “the only principled politician in the country”.

Gavin Barwell's nine-bob loaf

That’s quite an endorsement, or quite a commentary on the school’s unusual perspective on British politics. It might be the sort of view which could make some parents who send their sons or daughters to the £12,000 per year fee-paying school to reconsider whether to allow their child to attend Trinty’s political science classes.

And it is a judgement which will have been called into question even more after Barwell’s bumbling appearance on LBC radio this morning.

You might like to think that it is far too simplistic to say that our politicians are gloriously out of touch, but when the privileged (public school and Cambridge-educated) Tory boy was asked how much a loaf of Hovis in Sainsbury’s might cost, he gave as his answer: 45 pence.

It was Marie-Antoinette, the queen of pre-revolutionary France, living in her gilded palace at Versailles, who when told that the people of Paris were starving and had no bread, notoriously said, “Let them eat cake”. She ultimately paid with her head. Might today’s 45p loaf be Barwell’s Let Them Eat Cake moment?

After all, Barwell is the politician who before he was elected to Parliament, ran Croydon Council’s finances; more recently, he has taken to blasting those on benefits, while he justifies cutting public services and benefits.

How much? Has Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell's ignorance of the price of a loaf of bread betrayed his lack of grasp of the real world?

Perhaps we ought not expect Barwell to know much about money in the “real” world, as he has never done a real full-time job in his life outside politics, having gone straight from university into being a Conservative party “special adviser”. There, he was sheltered in the employment of Lord Ashcroft, whose own finances have benefited from their own special kind of “shelter”. But that is hardly the sort of thing to inform you about such mundanities as the price of a loaf of bread.

Perhaps the cheap bar and publicly subsidised restaurant prices in the House of Commons have inured Barwell from having to count every penny spent on a family household budget, as many of his constituents have to do weekly, even daily.

What is perhaps most troubling of all about Barwell’s lack of grasp of the price of a loaf was quite how far out he was with his nine-bob guess.

Because in local Sainsbury’s, the price of an average Hovis loaf is in fact £1.25 – or nearly three times more than Barwell’s estimate.

Even shopping around as widely as possible, the cheapest loaf to be found was from Fine Lady Bakeries at 50p. That’s available at Waitrose, Sanderstead, Barwell’s local store, though we somehow doubt that it is the sort of bread usually seen in the Barwell household.

In Barwell’s out of touch world, Croydon Central’s Tory MP seems to think money goes three times further than it really does for his constituents. No wonder he thinks it’s ok to cut benefits for the poor, disabled and most vulnerable in society.

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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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3 Responses to Use your loaf, Gav: Barwell’s “Let Them Eat Cake” moment

  1. The final paragraph here hits the nail on the head. It seems to me that many Tory MPs, Mr Barwell included, have no idea of the daily lives of large numbers of their constituents, or how the Government’s policies affect them.

  2. Pingback: I’m a big Gavin Barwell fan, but!!!! | Croydon Lansdowne

  3. mraemiller says:

    It reminded me of the scene in Yes, Minister where Sir Humphrey gets cross questioned about how much half a pound of margerine costs …

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