Whether it was the tram collision, knife crime or youth violence, speak to anyone from Croydon and they will undoubtedly defend their area to their wits end which often unfairly attracts substantial amounts of negative press. However, one of the greatest success stories to come of Croydon in recent weeks must be the appointment of the new No.10 Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell. The unassuming, slightly baby faced family man who as a young man battled and survived cancer, will now play an instrumental role in guiding Prime Minister May with her post-election battles to ensure she survives her renewed five-year tenure. The past two months have heralded turbulent times for the Prime Minister but appointing an extremely well liked and creative tactician will no doubt reinvigorate operations in Downing Street. Gavin’s belief in liberal Conservatism, commitment to the NHS and ability to mobilise positive and powerful campaigns have no doubt all played a role in making him the chief of choice.
“The past two months have heralded turbulent times for the Prime Minister but appointing an extremely well liked and creative tactician will no doubt reinvigorate operations in Downing Street.”
Gavin’s liberal Conservativism
The recent election period showed the drastic lacuna that exists in our tribal based political system. The political parties on the left and right seemed to edge closer to the extremities of their respective poles. With everything to fight for in the middle ground, Mr Barwell’s commitment to liberal Conservativism could prove decisive in influencing policy to narrow the gap between the Right and the Left. During his time as an MP, Gavin has shown his graft in campaigning in support of a higher living wage, tackling tax dodgers, promoting full employment, educational equality, fairer immigration, school standards as well as voting for same sex marriage. If there is something we can learn from across the Channel, France’s Macron didn’t go too far wrong by advocating a more centrist approach. In turn, the Conservatives may be minded to follow a similar game plan.
Gavin’s commitment to the NHS
The Labour Party spin doctors have actively and repetitively designated Labour as the party for the NHS with the Conservatives being the dismantlers. Downing Street is now being led by an individual whose commitment to the NHS is personal. The NHS saved Gavin’s life as a cancer patient, provided outstanding care to his dad at the end of his life and Gavin’s wife works for the NHS. As an MP, Gavin voted for increases in the NHS budget, got Croydon a fairer share of that budget and was campaigning to get a new accident and emergency in his local area. Gavin’s real and current life experience of the NHS can only be a massive positive as far as future policy development is concerned both practically and perceptually.
Gavin’s ability mobilise a positive and powerful campaign
Having previously run a successful inner city marginal seat campaign to become an MP, Gavin certainly knows a thing or two about winning elections in hostile territory. With more London based constituencies electing Labour MPs, the lessons Gavin learnt during his 2015 parliamentary election fight may assist the Conservatives with winning back some key London seats. Gavin’s “golden rules” for campaign strategies include focusing on the things you can influence; keeping a campaign as positive as possible about the opponent; mobilising a range of supporters to canvass irrespective of class, age or race; demonstrating humbleness and earning the respect from parliamentary colleagues; maintaining a balance between national and local campaigns as well as balancing the personal brand with the national messaging on the campaign trail. These golden rules as set out in Gavin’s book “How to win a marginal seat” could prove decisive if rolled out and implemented by prospective parliamentary candidates at the next election.
Gavin now has the ear of the Prime Minister. If the chief’s experience, energy and belief system is taken with the seriousness it deserves in influencing the decision making and operations behind the black door of Number 10, it will only be a matter of time until we see PM May’s resurgence in popularity.