Grim outlook for Barwell as Ashcroft poll puts him 6% down

Things are looking very grim for Gavin Barwell’s future as an MP, as even his former employer and one-time mentor is publishing figures which show that he will lose his Croydon Central seat at the General Election next May.

Lord Ashcroft has this morning released the results of a poll conducted in the Croydon Central constituency which has the sitting Conservative MP losing to Labour’s Sarah Jones by a 6 per cent margin.

Six-point margin: Gavin Barwell's ex-boss reckons he's doomed as an MP

Six-point margin: Gavin Barwell’s ex-boss reckons he’s doomed as an MP

This latest poll involved a large sample of voters within the constituency, and so is considered more accurate than many other opinion polls conducted on voting intentions.

“Cashcroft”, the billionaire former Tory Party treasurer who is spending a fair chunk of his wealth on regular polling of some of Britain’s most marginal constituencies, notes that, “The six-point Labour lead in Croydon Central is the smallest I have yet found in a seat the Tories are defending from Labour in London.”

A 6 per cent lead could see Barwell beaten by as many as 3,000 votes come the General Election, although Ashcroft utilises the pollster’s usual cop-out, that his opinion poll is just “a snapshot not a prediction”.

Given that the Barwell-inspired election campaign for Croydon Town Hall in the spring worked so well (not) – with Labour winning control of the council with 40 councillors to the Conservatives’ 30 – the question now is: how can Barwell salvage his political career and win back around 2,000 voters by next May?

It does not help the cause of the Tory government whip that he is faced with a battle on two fronts. Ashcroft’s “snapshot” suggests that UKIP’s Peter Staveley could get 19 per cent of the vote, while the LibDems vote will collapse utterly in Croydon Central, to just 4 per cent, with many of their former voters going over to Labour.

Ashcroft’s Croydon Central poll gives Labour 39 per cent to the Conservatives’ 33 per cent. This is not altogether different from what Inside Croydon’s tame psephologist, Walter Cronxite, predicted last month, with Jones on 37.5 per cent to Barwell’s 34.3 per cent, although Ashcroft’s poll suggests a bigger vote for UKIP.

Even worse for Barwell, the Ashcroft poll was conducted before Jones launched her vote-winning Zone 4 campaign to appeal to Croydon’s commuters, with a proposal which could reduce their annual fares by nearly £340.

That is a campaign which Barwell quickly backed. But copying Labour policy initiatives after five years in office may not be enough to retrieve the dire situation for the MP for the Whitgift Foundation.

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4 Responses to Grim outlook for Barwell as Ashcroft poll puts him 6% down

  1. This poll is encouraging for those of us who want to see Sarah Jones elected. However, in the lead-up to the General Election much of the emphasis will be on whether we are to have a Labour-led or Tory-led Government.

    In that situation any potential UKIP vote is likely to be squeezed, especially in a Labour/Tory marginal like Croydon Central. It’s therefore hard to predict the result, and a lot might depend on how much work is put in by each side and how effective their respective campaigns are.

  2. I think Croydon Central will be an interesting battle with an uncertain outcome.

    The worst outcome for the Tories might be the best outcome for those of us who don’t want Steve “Three Wads” O’Connell as our MLA though… I assume he’ll be “encouraged” to step down in 2016. I’d much rather have Gavin than Three Wads.

  3. Rod Davies says:

    My sense is that Gavin Barwell is trapped in a vice where if Conservatives chase UKIP on immigration they are likely to alienate a significant number in Central Croydon. If they don’t then UKIP will beat them up over immigration and the EU.

    Even if the Conservatives start to shift to the right over immigration and EU they inherently legitimise UKIP, and UKIP can honestly claim that the Conservatives have stolen their policies and manifesto commitments. That gives Sarah Jones pretty much a free run at Croydon Central drawing upon traditional Labour supporters, instinctive left Conservatives who are uncomfortable with the neo-UKIP position, disillusioned LibDems, and so forth.

    To cap it all Gavin Barwell is too closely associated with the former Tory council administration. It looked awfully self-serving and it lacked any sort of vision for all of Croydon as opposed to their own little fiefdoms.

    I suspect that Mr Barwell’s future is likely to be determined not by how good or bad either he or Ms Jones are, but how the media present Messrs Cameron and Miliband. We can pretty much guarantee that the 2015 election messages will consistently lack any element of rational debate and consideration of facts or the national interest.

    I fear that the choice will be self-serving mediocrity or national catastrophe.

  4. sed30 says:

    Time for a change – new broom and all that

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