As the General Election campaign enters its final month (thank goodness!), WALTER CRONXITE checks out who is actually supporting the MP for the Whitgift Foundation
The thing which is becoming increasingly apparent about Gavin Barwell, the “Don’t Mention the Tories” Conservative Party candidate for Croydon Central, is not what he tells you.
It’s what he doesn’t tell you.
Deceit by omission appears to be the best card Barwell has to play in his campaign to be re-elected, rather than discussing his record after five years in Parliament as the local MP. You can view Barwell’s doggedly loyal Tory voting record by clicking here.
Barwell’s already been caught out with his “Dear Neighbour” letters, where in seeking endorsements ahead of next month’s General Election, Barwell specifically asked voters to be careful not to mention the Conservative Party and certainly not to mention his own party leader, David Cameron.
Now Barwell – or at least, someone on Barwell’s campaign team capable of operating a camera and a bit of html – has been at it again, this time launching a series of mini-movies of heart-felt pledges of support from what a casual viewer might assume to be ordinary constituents, who are unanimous in their admiration for their erstwhile MP.
But in a marginal seat and with the polls all pointing towards a Labour victory, Barwell’s campaign is appearing increasingly desperate. Their selection of “ordinary” residents for these vox pops includes members of his own staff, several loyal Tory party members, at least four Conservative candidates at last year’s local elections, and even one who pledges his support for Barwell but who won’t be able to vote for him because he doesn’t live in the Croydon Central constituency.
Not that Cecil B de Barwell and his cast of 18 supporters (just 18?) bother to mention any of this.
Indeed, they barely mention the Conservative Party at all.
Just like when they video’d the somewhat breathless Michael Gove on a recent visit to Croydon, the interviewees almost all carefully avoid mentioning the C-word (no, not that one). And they certainly don’t ever mention that other C-word, Cameron.
The disingenuity of the production, posted on Barwell’s website over the Easter weekend, is the sort of sleight of hand for which politicians are properly held in contempt.
Eddy Arram – regarded even by some local Tories as the most unpopular Mayor of Croydon for 50 years – offers his endorsement of Barwell, without once mentioning on his video clip that he worked in the MP’s for the last five years. But the slogan “Vote Barwell, Get Arram” probably wouldn’t win much support.
Amy Pollard says, “I met Gavin through a local issue I needed help with.” Somehow, Pollard omits to mention that she’s a paid-up member of the Conservative Party and stood, unsuccessfully, as a council election candidate in Woodside ward in 2014. It must have slipped her mind.
Similarly forgetful is David Harmes (losing Conservative candidate in Addiscombe), Matthew O’Flynn (another Tory loser, in South Norwood), and Andrew Stevensen (failed Conservative council election candidate in Broad Green). At least O’Flynn is honest enough to remember that the reason he’s backing Barwell is because, when no one else would, the MP gave him an internship.
But overall, there’s a clear intention to deceive here by the Barwell campaign: the interviewees have been carefully selected to avoid including anyone who was actually elected to the Town Hall last year. Presumably, current Conservative councillors will be supporting Barwell? After all, enough of them are spending most weekends tramping the streets of Croydon Central, delivering the candidate’s leaflets, instead of conducting ward surgeries or undertaking residents’ casework.
Not to include any elected Tory councillors strongly suggests that the Barwell team’s strategy is to try to make their man appear as the non-political politician – even though the public school and Oxbridge-educated Barwell has never had a job outside politics and the Tory party in his life.
Perhaps their selection of interviewees was not careful enough. Because Stevensen does not even live in Barwell’s constituency. So despite his video appearance, come polling day, even Stevensen won’t be voting for Barwell. Not that the Barwell video bothered to mention such a mere detail.
Could Barwell’s campaign team really not manage to find 20 ordinary residents who actually live in the Croydon Central constituency to praise their candidate?
Of the other video interviewees, there’s a few endorsements from local businesses, which may cost them future trade, but there’s also a couple of notable omissions.
Although Barwell spent a couple of years running a youth recruitment project to shore-up his political support locally, there is just one out of the 18 vox pops given by someone who is obviously aged under 24.
And despite Croydon being among one of the most ethnically diverse parts of the country, Barwell’s videos fail to include a single Afro-Caribbean supporter.
Of course, what is also missing is a bit of honesty. But then, this is the “Back Barwell” campaign.
- Barwell’s in bother again over his slipping standards
- MP Barwell’s leaflets try hard to disguise the fact he’s a Tory
- Barwell aide: ‘Gavin has no idea. He trusts me to do whatever’
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