Local Tories appear to have given up hope of regaining the parliamentary seat lost at last year’s General Election, as KEN LEE reports
Gavin Barwell, the Tory who when he was MP for Croydon Central said, “Representing my home town in Parliament has been the greatest honour of my life”, is plotting his return to parliament… but as the honourable member for Beckenham.
Barwell, the author of How To Lose A Marginal Seat, was ousted as MP for Croydon Central at last year’s General Election. A seat which had been held by the Conservatives since 2006 was won by Labour’s Sarah Jones with a 5,600-vote majority. Barwell landed on his feet, though, as he was swiftly appointed to the job as Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chief of Staff, a £150,000 per year reward for failure.
The egregiously politically ambitious Barwell is clearly itching to make a comeback. But just not in Croydon.
That Corbyn-inspired majority of last year, combined with demographic changes in central Croydon, and a glance at last week’s local council election results, which with the help of recent boundary changes seem to have cemented the borough as a Labour stronghold for some time to come, appear to have made up Barwell’s mind that if he is to seek a return to the House of Commons, it will have to be in a different constituency.
So much for Barwell’s regularly professed devotion to his home town.
Across the borough boundary from Barwell’s Sanderstead home lies Beckenham, and a comfy 15,000-vote Tory majority which even gaffe-prone Gav would struggle to fritter away. The MP for Beckenham is Colonel Bob Stewart, a veteran of army service in Belfast and Bosnia. Stewart may not, generally, be the retiring type, but he will be 72 by the time of the next General Election which is due to be held in 2022.
For Barwell, 46, being selected for Beckenham would allow him to focus on his personal political career, rather than drumming up stunts to ensure he gets re-elected. He might even have more time to spend with his laptop.
But Barwell abandoning Croydon is double-edged for the people of the borough.
Because according to our mole outside Croydon Tory HQ in Purley, the talk within the Conservative group at its meeting last week is that their next parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central should be between Gareth “Blubber” Streeter or Mario Creatura. What a choice!
Streeter was last week elected as a Croydon councillor – the first time that the Oasis Academy chain communications chief had managed to win at an election, after previously being rejected by voters at the 2014 locals and by the good people of Yorkshire, when he was parachuted in as a parliamentary election candidate there.
Creatura is the conniving Coulsdon councillor who was Barwell’s parliamentary bag-carrier until 2017, and was recently hired – on his former boss’s recommendation – to be Theresa May’s Head of Twitter.
Looks like Labour rising star Sarah Jones has a long parliamentary career ahead of her, then…
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