Twitter spat over squirrel mentions between Croydon MPs descends into ‘childish name calling’

A Twitter spat erupted between Croydon MPs Gavin Barwell and Steve Reed who spent much of the past weekend arguing over one another’s parliamentary records.

Mr Reed claimed Mr Barwell, Conservative Croydon Central MP, mentioned squirrels more often than his own constituency in parliament, leading Mr Barwell to respond by branding the Labour MP for Croydon North a ‘buffoon’.

The hostilities began on Thursday afternoon, when Councillor John Wentworth (Lab, Upper Norwood), who also serves as Mr Reed’s election agent, tweeted: “@SteveReedMP tells @croydonlabour that @GavinBarwellMP has mentioned squirrels in Parliament more than Croydon in last 2 years.”

Mr Barwell responded in the house: “That was a debate about squirrels I will never forget – I was not entirely sure whether the red squirrel was a metaphor for socialism.”

Mr Barwell defended himself from this accusation, pointing out that his position of government whip means he is not allowed to speak in the House.

When Croydon Labour’s official Twitter account retorted that holding that position was a ‘choice’ Mr Barwell tartly asked whether his Croydon North counterpart would also be criticising Labour whips.

However his explaination didn’t stop the criticisims from Mr Reed, who has held his seat in the Labour stronghold since 2012, who accused Mr Barwell of being ‘gagged’ by his whip role.

It was at this point that Mr Barwell posted a six-part message to Mr Reed outlining his rebuttal, saying ‘you shouldn’t equate speaking a lot with effectiveness’.

The 44-year-old, who joined parliament in the coalition government in 2010, said he was happy to be judged on his record, citing funding for a new A&E and increased in funding for new schools.

He also referred to his triumphant re-election last May when Croydon Central Conservatives received their biggest vote share since 1979.

He accused Mr Reed of ‘careerism’ after Mr Reed accepted a position in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and claimed his predecessor wouldn’t have involved himself in ‘cheap point scoring’.

The online spat rumbled on with Mr Reed reasserting his point about Mr Barwell’s mentions of squirrels while the latter continued to defend himself on the score of his position as whip.

The row culminated in Mr Barwell calling the Labour MP a ‘clueless buffoon’ for not knowing he was appointed whip in October 2013.

The chair of Croydon Council’s Labour group stepped in to mediate and Councillor Pat Ryan, former Mayor of Croydon, repremanded Mr Barwell for his ‘childish name calling’.

While Mr Reed remained on fighting form challenging Mr Barwell’s voting record on backing £45m worth of cuts to Croydon, Mr Barwell seemingly moved on and posted a picture of himself opening a cake shop in Shirely.

The last word was had by Mr Reed who reposted Mr Barwell’s insult, calling the Croydon Central MP ‘a bit tetchy’.

Featured image courtesy of Olivier, with thanks

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