After Emily Thornberry’s summary execution, you might think that a politicians, however low-ranking, would realise that Twitter’s 140 characters are too dangerous a medium for aimless musings, especially when encountering crosses of St George.
Even unspoken but implicit Twitter commentary is now a capital offence for a politician. Bland comments, or even better, complete silence is the best policy for those seeking career progression in mainstream political parties.
Sunday morning’s Twitter chaff, though, saw Gavin Barwell declaring that he is defiantly reconciled to losing his parliamentary seat in Croydon Central.
Barwell – or was it Barwell as ghosted by his state-funded and self-professed “Gobby factotum” Mario Creatura? – initiated this career-threatening interchange by boasting that a betting website lists him as the second least likely MP to jump the sinking Tory ship to UKIP.
Inevitably, as they added the hashtag #badgeofhonour, Barwell/Creatura managed to get the detail wrong.
The experienced odds-setters at Ladbrokes have quoted odds for fewer than 30 MPs. As a junior whip at Westminster, Barwell ought to know that there are more than 28 Conservative MPs in Parliament. Which means that, even at 100/1, that puts Barwell a long way from being the second-least likely defector to the charms of Nigel Farage.
There would certainly be a gap in the market to David Cameron at 500/1.
Inevitably, the tweet from Barwell’s account drew a response, from a tweeter called @FloTom with an avatar well-flagged in the colours of St George: “Going down with the sinking ship then” it prodded.
What came next from Barwell was a clear admission that he thinks his Croydon Central seat is already lost.
His Twitter feed, which features the Nestle building, that monument to the failed Conservative policies locally and nationally through “austerity”, states: “I think I can win but if I don’t there is no shame standing up for what you believe in (or going down with the ship as you put it).”
Sadly for Barwell, painting himself as a principled but losing centrist does not look like rescuing his election prospects.
The Lord Cashcroft poll of 1,000 voters in Croydon Central had Barwell 6 per cent behind his Labour opponent, seems to put most centrist former LibDem voters firmly in the Labour column. There are, according to Cashcroft, 19 per cent of Croydon Central voters, perhaps like @FloTom, looking to back UKIP.
Bringing less than one-third of those voters back into the Tory column before next May would rescue Barwell. Barwell’s Twitter activity yesterday showed that looks to be well beyond him. The pro-Europe, One Nation Conservative career politician may well prove to be just the wrong type of Tory candidate to hold the marginal seat.
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema, Wakolda, Nov 27
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- St Peter’s Primary School Christmas Fair, Nov 29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- St Andrew’s churchyard gardening session, 10am, Dec 6
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- Croydon Philharmonic Handel’s Messiah, Fairfield Halls, Dec 6
- Coulsdon Yulefest, Dec 6-7
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Dec 7
- Mayor of Croydon’s charity Christmas dinner, Dec 12
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- Concert of Christmas music, St Luke’s, Woodside, Dec 13
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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