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'Don't mention the Prime Minister'

A Tory MP fighting a marginal seat has urged backers not to mention "the Conservative Party or David Cameron" in letters of support.

Gavin Barwell wrote to constituents asking them to sign letters to friends and neighbours endorsing his re-election campaign, suggesting they would be "more effective" if they did not mention the Prime Minister or his party.

Mr Barwell, who had a majority of 2,969 in 2010, insisted that Mr Cameron featured heavily in his campaign literature but he was also attempting to win over voters who may be more likely to support him based on his local record.

The Evening Standard reported that Mr Barwell's wrote to constituents saying: "I'm not asking you to write a political letter - in fact, it'll be much more effective if it doesn't mention the Conservative Party or David Cameron.

"What I'm looking for is something personal that talks about how I've helped you or someone you know or an occasion when you met me."

Mr Barwell said it was "ridiculous" to suggest that he did not want to mention Mr Cameron during his campaign to retain the seat.

"I am one of the strongest supporters of the Prime Minister, he is all over my literature," the MP said.

"I'm fighting a marginal seat so obviously I'm trying to build a coalition between people that are solid Conservatives, people who are undecided but prefer David Cameron to Ed Miliband and people who I hope will think I have done a good job as their local MP.

"Each of those different aims requires a different kind of literature."

He added: "To suggest that I'm trying to avoid having David Cameron in my literature is ridiculous."

Sarah Jones, the Labour candidate for Croydon Central, told the Standard: "It's a sign of real desperation that Gavin Barwell is actively telling people not to call him a Tory. He's trying to pull the wool over people's eyes.

"If people were wondering if the Tory brand had become toxic in Croydon, he's the proof you need.

"However hard he tries, he can't run away from his voting record - voting for deep cuts, privatisation of the NHS, the bedroom tax and trebling tuition fees."

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