The things that some people will do to secure selection in a safe Tory seat.
Sol Campbell, the former Tottenham, Arsenal and England footballer, has suddenly discovered he is Gavin Barwell’s biggest fan. Presumably, Campbell has not yet discovered that the “lifelong Croydon resident” is a Liverpool supporter.
With Sir Malcolm “67 grand is not enough” Rifkind jumping before he was pushed from the safe Kensington parliamentary seat, Campbell has “failed to rule himself out” (newspaper speak for failing to get a straight answer to a straight question) of seeking selection ahead of the May General Election.
And multi-millionaire Campbell at least has one thing in common with Rifkind: they both think MPs should be paid more.
What the 40-year-old has to offer the political arena is as yet unknown. But it may be an indicator that Tory Central Office quite likes the idea of the stardust which a high-profile former England team mate of David Beckham might bring to the House of Commons, since yesterday Conservative Party members in London received a letter, apparently signed by Campbell, urging them to do all they can to support… Croydon Central’s Gavin Barwell.
Back in November, things looked very bleak for Barwell when Tory pollsters were finding him 6 per cent behind his Labour challenger, Sarah Jones. Even some of Barwell’s most loyal aides were admitting that their man might prove to be a one-term MP.
But Labour’s national polling has not been good since, and locally, Jones has not been helped by the antics of her colleagues on Croydon Council, who have been making the Keystone Kops appear calm, professional and on top of their briefs.
Now the Tories are pouring extra resources into Croydon Central. Unannounced midweek visits by Eric Pickles to local primary schools may not do a great deal to boost Barwell’s vote, but with six full-time paid staff working for the MP and a full-time local party agent, efforts to leaflet large swathes of the constituency could yet pay off.
With Barwell’s Tory campaign budget estimated to be three or four times greater than Labour has available, expect there to be many more leaflets through the letter boxes of Croydon Central. And a few more celebrity endorsements, too, from the likes of Sol Campbell.
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