Conservative Party activists in London have recently been in receipt of a guide on how to use social media in election campaigns. The guide offers glowing praise for the way that Croydon MP, Gavin Barwell, and his office tea boy, Mario Creatura (who has risen without trace to become a Coulsdon councillor), make use of tools such as Twitter.
There is some suggestion that the author of the guide is the self-same Councillor Creatura. Presumably, he will have found some spare time in his very busy schedule, because of course he would never dream of undertaking such party political work when “on the clock” with his publicly funded job working for the MP or receiving his over-generous councillor’s allowance.
The guide is already due for an update, however. It needs a new chapter: “How To Have Your Arse Handed To You On Twitter”.
Croydon’s Twitterati yesterday witnessed a 2015 equivalent of the St Valentine’s Day massacre, as Sarah Jones, the Labour candidate for Croydon Central, proceeded to rip into her Tory rival in a manner which exposed Barwell’s cant and hypocrisy.
It had all begun the evening before, when Barwell – as we’d correctly predicted (the Barwell/Creatura Twitter axis is so utterly predictable) – started asking questions about the political propaganda posters paid for by the council and appearing around the borough.
In the absence of a coherent answer from Labour’s council leader Tony Newman, the MP turned his Twitter attention on to Jones, in an effort to discredit his opponent by associating her with the numb-nuts from her party at Croydon Town Hall.
Barwell/Creatura could not have expected the fusillade of responses that their Twitter enquiry would provoke, as Jones – @LabourSJ – fired a rat-a-tat-tat volley of bullets back at the Tory boys with machine gun-like ferocity.
Responding to a tweet apparently sent from Barwell’s own account, saying, “You’re standing for a party that says it supports further cuts. If you oppose austerity, join @CroydonGreens”, Jones responded. And then some.
I care very deeply about the impact of cuts on Croydon and our most vulnerable. Where is your outrage on that?
Not when you slashed Croydon’s resources yet your councillors gave themselves a pay rise.
Not when you imposed bedroom tax to punish the poorest yet failed to address spiralling housing benefit going to landlords
Not when you wasted billions of taxpayers’ cash on reorganising the NHS.
Not when you trebled tuition fees, with no material benefit actually increasing the deficit.
So don’t lecture me on wasting taxpayers’ money! You have wasted billions on pursuing your narrow ideology
& taken thousands out of the pockets of ordinary hard working people who are worse off & reducing taxes for the wealthiest.
Under such a withering assault, His Master’s Voice, Creatura, resorted to quoting Inside Croydon to respond on behalf of Barwell. Things must have been looking desperate in the Tory twosome’s Sanderstead bunker.
This is especially so given that Creatura, despite his two lots of wages amounting to up to £44,000 a year being paid for out of public money, has blocked @InsideCroydon on Twitter. So this could not have come easily for him.
Sadly, laughing boy didn’t choose to remind the world of this unsavoury episode in his short-lived career as a public servant. Nor does it feature in the Tory guide to best practice on social media. But then, neither does this example of the misuse of Twitter. Can’t think why.
In any case, by this morning, we imagine Barwell/Creatura are regretting trying to dub Jones as “Silent Sarah”.
Twitter is an odd medium. Keep it at arm’s length, and people criticise for “not engaging”. Using it conversationally, responding to others’ tweets to you, and you attract disdain for appearing argumentative: 140 characters don’t allow for nuance.
So Jones and Barwell both received tut-tut tweets from locals for entering into such a discourse.
But as one Croydon Twitter follower, Paul Stephenson (@mirandinhasteva), observed so acutely late last night, “@
GavinBarwellMP 35 tweets back patting #Tories or dissin #labour in 24hrs. Do sum proper work lad. Electorate aren’t idiots”.
Let’s hope so.
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