So Gavin Barwell’s personal political career seems to have hit a speed bump, as the man who was re-elected as Croydon Central MP thanks to a bunch of UKippers who bottled it, is to stay in the Tory whips’ office, albeit with the sop of an ancient and anachronistic title of Comptroller of the Royal Household.
This may be one step up from the role of the Royal Arse-wipe, but not by much.
It’s the sort of thing which was out-of-date by the time Gilbert and Sullivan were writing Pirates of Penzance.
They would be sure to write a song for him…
I am the very model of a modern Comptroller-General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of Westfield, and I quote the fights historical,
From Hammerson to Shepherd’s Bush, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted too with matters of a shopping mall,
I understand equations, both the simple and financial,
Of Whitgift’s charitable status I’m teeming with a lot o’ news –
But can’t expect to vote in favour of local people’s views.
With his pantomime title, Barwell’s duties include looking after the day-to-day running of the House of Commons chamber (aka the hoovering monitor) and as an usher at Buckingham Palace garden parties. That’ll be nice for Karen and the boys.
The Prime Minister made the announcement of Barwell’s sideways move this week; perhaps David Cameron heard that Barwell had got himself elected by avoiding mention of his Old Etonian boss by name.
It may be significant that while the likes of Michael Gove and Greg Clark – two Tory ministers under whom Barwell worked very closely in the previous ConDem colaition – have been moved onwards and upwards in David Cameron’s government reshuffle, neither have taken Barwell with them… Wonder why?
What is important to note is that within days of being elected on his claim that he is a “Good Local MP”, Barwell has taken on a government job, worth a few extra grand to himself, which means he is now effectively barred from speaking in the House of Commons on behalf of the people of Croydon.
As a member of the whips office, as he has been since 2013, he is not allowed to put questions at Prime Minister’s Question Time. Barwell will be expected on all occasions to vote with the Government line, regardless of whether the particular motion is in the best interests of Croydon.
In essence, Croydon has got itself a very well-paid lame duck MP. That’s well worth a hashtag with “Good Local MP”.
Meanwhile, “behind the scenes”, as Barwell likes to put it, he will continue to use his position as an MP to represent the interests of the Whitgift Foundation, the borough’s biggest landowners and the principal beneficiaries of the £1 billion Hammersfield redevelopment. Barwell has admitted that the Westfield and Hammerson scheme is his “first priority”.
That includes road schemes which will bulldoze through a local park and changes to the tram system which will deliver a worse, rather than a better, service. All of which will be paid for with hundreds of millions of pounds of public money.
Barwell’s due to have a meeting tomorrow morning with the shopping centre developers. It’s his first priority, after all. It’s uncertain whether he will turn up in his full regalia as Comptroller of the Royal Household. But it’ll surely do no harm as he sucks up to various vested interests.
Altogether now: I am the very model of a modern Comptroller General…
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