He is the very model of a modern Comptroller-General

This is what Croydon Central has as their MP...

This is what the voters of Croydon Central now have as their MP…

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It’s the sort of thing which was out-of-date by the time Gilbert and Sullivan were writing Pirates of Penzance.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…

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", Business, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, John Burton, Whitgift Centre, Whitgift Foundation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to He is the very model of a modern Comptroller-General

  1. jcheetham@aol.com says:

    I vaguely remember that John Moore MP… now Lord of Upper Marsh .. held this post and produced a daily synopsis of the business of the House.  And he didn’tdo badly.Sent from Samsung Mobile

    • “He didn’t do so badly”?

      Thatcher’s favourite, crashed and burned very quickly after relatively junior ministerial responsibilities, and left parliament to spend more time with his directorships.

      Hardly changing the country for the better, is it?

      But about Barwell’s level…

  2. Far be it from me to incur the editor’s wrath, but the claim that Gavin Barwell will be a lame duck MP because he can’t speak in Parliament is not necessarily born out in practice.
    Jack Weatherill, as deputy speaker and later speaker of the House of Commons, had no chance to speak in debates either. But that didn’t stop him being incredibly effective on the borough’s behalf.
    I have no idea whether Mr Barwell will be equally deft in his dealings, but he certainly has a good role model to show him the way.
    You make Mr Barwell’s support for the redevelopment of central Croydon sound like criminal activity: his fellow Croydon MPs Steve Reed (Labour Croydon North) and Chris Philp (Conservative Croydon South) have both expressed support for the £1 billion Whitgift Centre initiative and were both returned to Parliament with substantially increased majorities.
    If there was serious public concern about the proposals it would surely have shown up in the polling figures.

    • Yes, David, there is a consensus between the Tories and Steve Reed OBE over Hammersfield. And given Reed’s Blairite outlook, many other things, too.

      But neither Reed nor Philp hold a position with the landowners in that £1billion deal while “serving” as an MP as Barwell does.

      He could resolve the matter very easily by resigning from the Foundation. That he refuses to do so indicates how important it must be for the local Establishment to have an MP on the “inside”, with all the inherent conflicts of interest.

      • Gavin Barwell is a member of the Whitgift Foundation as well as being a Member of Parliament. You’ve laboured the point ad nauseum and it seems not to have made a jot of difference to his re-election prospects, because nobody is bothered except you.
        As for Steve Reed, he’s on the progressive wing of the Labour Party: that’s the one that wins general elections.

        • So you don’t think that an MP on the governing board of a body that is involved in a £1 billion land deal is a conflict of interest?

          How very… 1860s.

  3. Peter Rogers says:

    Maybe this is because the government are scared that if they don’t silence him with this ‘promotion’ he might rebel? No thought not
    My favourite pointless statement of his ‘thank you’ email was an invite to visit parliament, I was under the impression I could do that anytime by going into the lobby and sending for him. Or perhaps he’s exempt from that as well now…

  4. mraemiller says:

    Theb wikipedia entry for the position reads “the current Comptroller of the Household is Gavin ‘Bobble-head’ Barwell.”

    If you’re going to try to improve on Gilbert which is like adding eyebrows to the Mona Lisa please at least make it scan properly… It’s very hard to improve on the genius.

Leave a Reply