Ashcroft offers MP Barwell a job reference – before election

HAS GAV GIVEN UP (Part 94)? Many a true word said in jest, they say.

Sights we won't be seeing in 2015: even Gavin Barwell's talking down his chance of winning at the General Election

Sights we won’t be seeing in 2015: even Gavin Barwell’s talking down his chance of winning at the General Election

But could a New Year’s Eve offer of a job reference from Tory Party donor Lord Cashcroft be the biggest vote of no-confidence yet in the chances of Gavin Barwell to continue as a Croydon MP after the General Election in May?

It all occurred (on Twitter, where else?) just before the midnight chimes and fireworks welcomed in election year 2015. Barwell tapped out a typically self-centred, attention-seeking less than 140 characters.

For a self-professed optimist, Barwell’s tweet lacked the confidence in his own ability or campaign that, come May 7, he will accumulate more votes in Croydon Central than Labour’s Sarah Jones. Nor was it an absolute declaration of faith that the Tories might win their first General Election since 1992.

“On personal level can’t wait to find out what I’ll be doing in 6 months [sic] time – Minister, opposition frontbench, backbenches or something new,” Barwell shared with the world.

There’s many a campaign manager who will have cringed on seeing such an ill-judged comment. Such flawed judgement – far from the first – raises further doubts about Barwell’s suitability for high office.

But what followed might be considered a stake through the heart of the Barwell campaign.

Lord Ashcroft was being cruel in trying to be kind when he tweeted back: “[S]till happy to give you a reference if it’s something else!”

Hardly an overwhelming vote of confidence from Ashcroft in his former aide. But then, Ashcroft has seen the polling numbers.

Barwell Ashcroft tweetsBillionaire tax-avoider Ashcroft and Barwell go back a long way. Career politician Barwell went from Cambridge University straight to a job in Tory Central Office, where he worked for 17 years, including on the “target seat scheme” ahead of the 2010 General Election which was devised and run by Ashcroft when he was the Conservatives’ deputy chairman.

More recently, Ashcroft has been running some of the most detailed political polling of marginal seats ever seen in this country. And it was an Ashcroft poll of Croydon Central in November which indicated that Barwell trails Jones by 6 per cent, enough for the borough’s one swing seat to get its fourth different MP since 2006.

Michael Ashcroft: Barwell's former boss is unimpressed with his chances of retaining Croydon Central for the Tories

Michael Ashcroft: Barwell’s former boss is unimpressed with the chances of retaining Croydon Central for the Tories

At least Barwell has the consolation of knowing he’d have a reference from someone once rated as the 37th richest person in the country.

Or the richest in Belize, given Cashcroft’s penchant for off-shore tax avoidance schemes.

Of course, expect Barwell and Ashcroft to dismiss their Twitter exchange as a bit of festive fun.

Or, as it might also be explained, in vino veritas.

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2 Responses to Ashcroft offers MP Barwell a job reference – before election

  1. Given the lacklustre leadership of Tim “not nice but dim” Pollard, I am of the opinion that should the Croydon Central electorate deselect Gavin on 7 May, he will resurface, either as a councillor in Croydon or as a 2016 replacement for Steve O’Connell, whose performance as our representative in City Hall is less than distinguished.

  2. Peter Rogers says:

    Let’s hope for his sake Gav’s interests outside politics don’t hinge on him being MP for Croydon Central… Oh!

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