Gaffe-prone Gavin Barwell, the Tory MP for Croydon Central, has as good as admitted he may have been breaking the law by recruiting interns to work on his re-election campaign unpaid for up to six months.
Not for the first-time, “Gaffe-prone Gav” has been forced into a U-turn after his conduct was highlighted by Inside Croydon.
Barwell has changed his recruitment ad, following Inside Croydon’s report which exposed how he wanted to get people to work in the local Tories’ Purley head office through the winter for no pay and only with election agent Ian Parker for company, thus breaking the National Minimum Wage legislation and recent Conservative policy which limits the term of traineeships, or “internships”, to less than four weeks.
But to all intents and purposes, Barwell’s still looking to exploit someone whose parents have more money than sense.
The re-drafted recruitment ad on the W4MP website no longer mentions interns. Now Barwell is calling for “volunteers”, to work on his campaign for “a minimum of two weeks” – sufficiently open-ended that these office serfs could be hard at it all through from September until the General Election next May.
“The wording’s changed, but the intention remains the same: the MP appears to want someone to work for him for nothing,” said a spokesman from the Trades Union Congress after we showed them the advertisement.
They didn’t say it, but there was a sense that they felt here was a leading member of the Tory party being cheap as well as nasty… Any volunteers will likely be taken off the unemployment statistics, because they will not be available for work – and therefore they will lose entitlement for a range of benefits while working for Barwell.
W4MP, a website which carries hundreds of Westminster-related jobs each week, would appear to agree that the re-drafted ad is barely different from the original: Barwell’s ad still carries the same legal disclaimer warning applicants of the risks of being exploited in an unpaid position:
“The role being advertised is a voluntary one. As such, there are no set hours and responsibilities and you should be free to come and go as you wish. If the post demands set hours and/or has a specific job description you may be deemed to be a ‘worker’ and be covered by National Minimum Wage legislation.”
Times must be tough at Barwell’s office, despite three of his assistants – who all collect their wages paid for by the tax-payer – also trousering tens of thousands of pounds a year in allowances as Croydon councillors.
As Inside Croydon reported last week, Barwell has also been caught out not publishing his MP’s expenses claims – as he had promised before being elected. When he got his office minion to post the details of his latest expenses on his website, it showed the £66,000-per-year MP claiming four quid for someone to clean his constituency office windows (a job one of his state-funded lackies might easily do).
Barwell has even claimed reimbursement for the television licence for his constituency office. “I don’t pay my taxes so that the likes of Mario Creatura can sit in the office watching the telly all day,” Inside Croydon’s loyal reader said.
Oh, but you do, dear reader, you do…
- Here, from the Inside Croydon archive, is a small selection of some of Gavin’s gaffes:
- Barwell exposed for broken election promise on expenses
- Tory MP wants election helpers to work unpaid for six months
- Rigourous? Gaffe-in Barwell gets in a spell of trouble
- MP Barwell and the mystery of the vanishing Portcullis logo
- Barwell provides a “nasty” reminder with soup kitchen blunder
- Barwell given a lesson from economics professor on Twitter
- Parliamentary standards commissioner rebukes MP Barwell
Coming to Croydon
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- David Lean Cinema: Grand Budapest Hotel, Aug 7
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- David Lean Cinema: The Wind Rises, Aug 14
- Mind-Loosing Workshop, Aug 16
- David Lean Cinema: The Love Punch, Aug 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- David Lean Cinema: Stop The Pounding Heart, Aug 21
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- David Lean Cinema: Frank, Aug 28
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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