A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Tuesday 27th April - 9 days to polling day
28/04/2010 08:12:00

Spent the day calling on potential Conservative supporters who vote by post in New Addington and Forestdale. Spoke to one lady who has re-directed her son's ballot papers to Afghanistan, where he is currently serving - a timely reminder that while we are all about to exercise our democratic freedoms, our servicemen and women are risking their lives to protect them.

Last night was the main hustings event of the campaign, organised by The Croydon Advertiser.

One of the early questions was about David Cameron's letter to Croydon Central residents, urging those who want a change of government to vote for me not Andrew Pelling. A few of Andrew's supporters claimed to be incensed by this letter, though when pressed they struggled to explain what exactly had upset them (I felt sorry for my Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents, Gerry Ryan and Peter Lambell, who must have felt they were stuck in the middle of a Conservative feud).

There seemed to be two main grievances.

First they dispute David Cameron's version of events. This isn't surprising - for the last two years they have sought via the letters pages of the local papers to mislead people about what happened. They claim the local Conservative Party stabbed Andrew in the back. Not true - he resigned. They claim he was never offered the Whip back. Not true, as Andrew himself has had the decency to admit in one of his recent leaflets ("There have been word of mouth offers to rejoin the Conservative Party in Parliament. I have not taken up these offers"). And if they admit he was offered the Whip back, they claim that this offer was conditional on him not standing for re-election. Again not true - under the Conservative Party's Constitution any MP in receipt of the Conservative Whip is automatically eligible to be selected as a candidate.

Second, they object to the fact that the letter makes no reference to Andrew's illness as being the reason why he was off work (yes, you read that right - they object to the fact that the letter doesn't mention Andrew's illness). This objection was rather undermined by another of his supporters objecting to the fact that the briefing we sent to party members did mention his illnes, proving that when it comes to Andrew's supporters I can't win whatever I say.

At one point, Andrew said that he forgave those who were motivated by hate. I responded that whilst I'm cross that he is putting his career before the values he has championed all his life, I don't hate him - my main emotion is sadness that someone who has given so much to our town is ending his political career in this way.

Once that issue was out of the way, we worked quite well together, in particular putting Gerry Ryan on the spot over Labour's plans to downgrade Mayday.

I tried to stay calm throughout and thought I performed much better than last night but if you were there I would be interested in your view.

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Readers' Comments

On 04/05/2010 12:42:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
The Conservative Party Constitution if it means anything should be online for everyone to read.

I would have thought that the Operations Director of the Conservative Central Office should have seen to this.

Interesting article on the subject here:


by the Chairman of the Conservative One Person One Vote campaign

(that such an organisation even exists is a joke in its self if you ask me)

which claims that clause 17 of the constitution states: "The Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party."

Which means that the whole argument that the local association could reinstate Pelling if the executive are against it is meaningless.

I'm not sure how much of this is true as I am reluctant to commute to the Bodleian library to verify it.

But perhaps as an expert on the subject you could comment.

All this trouble could have been avoided if you had had a vote on who should be the candidate before the election.

One can make arguements against OMOV internal proceedures - they can take a lot of time and money.

However, as Gordon Brown discovered, not having an internal election (even if it's because it is for perfectly valid reasons like no one else got enough nominations) gives everyone else a platform from which to continually snipe at you.

As ordinary members do not get a meaningful vote at candidate selection time (they now vote for a committee who have the final say in candidate selection)

I guess this explains Pelling's abortive attempt in early 2009 to gain control of the local conservative federation? An attempt to replace those who have the meaningful votes?

I love the way you refer to yourself as a federation by the way - it's so Blakes 7.

Also your present selection method of voting a committee to vote for the candidate is bound to create a situation where one or two people have too much power.

...And either do a Shirley Trimmer and leave taking a substantial number or members and money with them or leave a whole area of the party feeling that they haven't had a say so they eventually get frustrated and leave.

The issue here really is not whether you or Pelling should have been the candidate.

It is that you're not going through the motions of listening to your membership and making them feel included.

If you spent less time worrying about the opinions of people like me who are never going to vote for you and spent more time listening to the opinions of your membership you wouldn't be in this situation.

You will find Ashcrofts millions are not enough - you need a strong voluntary part of the party.

You have to face it there comes a point where you can't appeal to everyone you have to represent someone.

All parties need to expand their membership and no one's going to pay money to join a party when they dont seem to get any say for their money.

Because people aren't actually that daft. It's not a good deal.

Perhaps these are issues you should cogitate on when you consider cutting funding to the Electoral Commission.




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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG