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Gavin Barwell MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

Here is the latest in our series of Twenty Questions with members of the Class of 2010...

Gavin Barwell Commons Gavin Barwell was elected MP for Croydon Central with a majority of 2,969.

1. What is your earliest political memory? Doing my homework under candlelight during the Winter of Discontent.

2. Complete the sentence: “I’m a Conservative because… I believe that for many problems, more government is not the solution and that we should safeguard what we have inherited from previous generations - our environment, our institutions and our historic freedom.”

3. Who is your political hero and why? I don't really have a hero because everyone has their flaws but in terms of being a good MP for Croydon, Jack Weatherill is a role model.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become an MP? I wanted to be an MP when I was in my 20s.  I was briefly a PPC in 2003 but stood down because my father was very unwell and to be honest I didn't enjoy it very much so I didn't apply for any other seats.  Then three years ago my local MP Andrew Pelling had some difficulties and said he wouldn't stand as a Conservative again and lots of people urged me to put my name forward.  Very few people get the chance to represent the place where they've lived all their life in Parliament.

5. What is your reading material of choice? The only newspapers I read are local ones: the Croydon Advertiser and the Croydon Guardian.  I get my national news from websites - principally ConHome, Coffee House and the BBC.  I devour books - political ones obviously but also history, sporting biographies and sci-fi/fantasy.

6. Who is your favourite political interviewer/presenter on TV or radio? Andrew Neil.

7. If you could run any government department, which would it be and why? Education. If we're serious about transforming our economy, we need to make sure all kids leave school with the skills they need to compete in the modern world - and most importantly of all confidence in their ability to learn.

8. Which non-Conservative politician do you most admire? Tim Farron (Lib Dem, Westmorland and Lonsdale) is a fantastic campaigner.

9. Who would you least want to get stuck with in a House of Commons lift? I'd rather be stuck with anyone than in there on my own.

10. If you were in the US, would you be a Republican or a Democrat? I always would have said Republican. At the moment, I don't feel I have much in common with either of them.

11. What do you enjoy doing to unwind and relax? Spending time with family and friends, playing football and tennis, reading.

12. What is your favourite book? Political - What It Takes, nominally an account of the 1988 Presidential Election but also a fantastic insight into what leads people into politics and what it can do to them; History - Stalingrad by Antony Beevor; Sport - Playing With Fire by Nasser Hussain; Sci-fi/fantasy - Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

13. What is your favourite film? Star Wars or The Shawshank Redemption.

14. What is your favourite music? I haven't really got a favourite band or artist.  At the moment, my favourite song is Love the way you lie by Eminem and Rihanna - great song, which also draws attention to an issue that doesn't receive the prominence it deserves.

15. What would be your ideal meal and where would you eat it? My favourite food is Indian.  There are some great restaurants in the constituency - The Banana Leaf, Planet Spice, Mirch Masla.  La Porte des Indes just off Oxford Street is a favourite too.

16. What is your favourite holiday destination? Any of the national parks in the west of the United States - Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic.

17. What do you most want to achieve during your first term in Parliament? Get a fair deal for Croydon - it had a particularly rough deal from the previous government (lowest increase in government grant of any council in the country, all in-country asylum seekers have to apply in person in Croydon etc).

18. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about yourself. I was blessed by the Dalai Lama shortly before taking my finals at university.

19. Tell us one interesting, unusual or surprising fact about your constituency. Croydon is the largest metropolitan area in Western Europe without city status - something we hope Her Majesty will put right shortly.

20. Share with us your most amusing story or favourite anecdote from the campaign trail. A few days before polling day I was delivering some leaflets. A small child was riding rather unsteadily towards me on his bike. He stopped, looked up at me quizzically and said, "Don't I know you? ... Aren't you the capital of Croydon?"

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