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Timpson holds the key
EDWARD Timpson’s place in history is sealed. In May he took his family name – once famous only for being a shoe repair and key cutting business – further into the limelight when he became MP for Crewe and Nantwich.
In doing so he wrestled away the once safe seat from Labour and handed the Conservatives their first by-election victory since 1982.
“The eye of the storm is the calmest point to be,” he said while reflecting on his astonishing victory with Limited Edition.
His victory followed the death of MP Gwyneth Dunwoody and the glare of the media spotlight was upon him during the campaign in which he was teased by Labour rivals for being ‘posh.’ “I tried to see myself as a calm person in the melee of this huge political storm around me,” said Edward (whose father John is the head of the Timpson shoe repair and key cutting shops).
“Initially it was quite startling because nothing does really prepare you for your first media scrum, especially when you’re with David Cameron who attracts a huge amount of interest.
“People were writing very early on that it would be a real litmus test not only for David Cameron but for Gordon Brown and also Nick Clegg.
“I tried to see myself as a calm person in the melee of this huge political storm around me.Edward Timpson MP
“The advantage I had was I was able to go home every night to the sanctuary of my family. It went a long way in keeping me as level headed as I could be.”
Cutting a sharp image in his suit yet possessing a friendly, casual demeanour and the ability to listen intently, the MP seemed to symbolise everything that the Conservatives are striving towards these days.
The Labour slur during the campaign that Edward was ‘a rich man’ who would not ‘understand the problems that people face day-to-day’ seemed far from justified.
Edward, who grew up with a brother and sister and whose family looked after 86 foster children, two of whom they adopted, added: “That didn’t resonate with me and it clearly didn’t resonate with the people of Crewe and Nantwich.
“But more importantly I know because I’ve spent the last 25 years living with children from extremely disadvantaged families who have probably had the worst start in life through being abused or neglected.
“The most important thing I can do for the people that live here is listen to all their problems, queries and concerns and do all I can to help them.”
Edward gained 20,539 votes – 49 per cent of the vote – a swing from Labour of 17.6 per cent.
So with the Conservative party swooping into a previously safe Labour stronghold, was the by-election indicative of a shift in political opinion across the country?
“I think what we’ve seen is a sea change in people’s perceptions of the way the country is going and what party is best equipped to try and see us through and bring about the changes that people feel are desperately needed,” said the MP.
“What we were finding — and this was reflected in the result — was that people were hugely disillusioned with the current government.
“They’ve been in power for 11 years, they’ve run out of ideas, they’ve lost direction, they’ve lost touch with the general public including the people of Crewe and Nantwich and people were sick of not being listened to, particularly by Gordon Brown.
“Coupled with that is a rejuvenated Conservative Party. We did go through some pretty powerless times during the 90s and the early 21st century and we had to change.
“We had to re-establish ourselves as a party for all the people rather than some of the people. “I think this is a new age for the country where they are looking to the Conservatives, rather than the Labour party, as the party to bring them through.
“They want someone who will stop the cuts in local services, try and protect their jobs and their families and someone who knows the area.”
Nevertheless, Edward has some pretty big shoes to fill. Born in a cottage hospital in Knutsford in the early hours of Boxing Day 1973, his predecessor Gwyneth Dunwoody came into power when Edward was just a two-month-old baby.
Edward is naturally keen to live up to her legacy and praised her 34 years serving Crewe and Nantwich in his acceptance speech and maiden speech.
He added: “There’s no doubt that she will always be remembered as a formidable lady, a great parliamentarian and someone who worked tirelessly for all her constituents.
“So from that great legacy, she is an extremely hard act to follow. I take on the role extremely seriously and what I can learn from Gwyneth Dunwoody is she stood up for her constituents first of all and that’s something I’m going to follow.”
Now that the dust has settled, Edward has found the duality of his new life the toughest adjustment to make.
While four days a week are spent in Crewe and Nantwich and at home in Kelsall, the other three are in London away from his wife Julia and three children Sam, four, Elizabeth, two, and Lydia, six months.
Adjusting to the job of being an MP has obviously been a challenge as well.
Edward, a former family law barrister, added: “I found it a cross between being the new boy at school and my first day at court and the convention and the pressure that comes with that.
“At times, it’s been extremely challenging. Other times it’s been hugely exciting but most of all it’s been hard work.
“Being sworn in is a huge honour and a very dignified occasion where suddenly it dawns on you the huge level of responsibility and trust people have put in you and the huge task you have ahead of you.”
Edward also said that his maiden speech was particularly nerve wracking but gave him a chance to talk about the Children and Young Persons Bill, dealing directly with the issue of children in care – something he feels strongly about.
“Having your own young children really rams that home because like any parent you start to worry about the world you’re bringing them up in.
“What I was finding in my job was I was picking up the pieces at the end when the damage had already been done for a lot of children and it was very frustrating.
“So what I can do with the role that I have been given is to try and prevent that happening before the problems start.
“If you can nip it in the bud early, if you can bring about social cohesion earlier on it’s less likely that damage is going to occur in the future,” he said.
Edward is also striving to improve social provision, enhance the role of the voluntary sector, protect Crewe Railway Station and press forward with the regeneration of the town centre while also keeping a watchful eye on the Government.
He also described the downgrading of the First Responders volunteer ambulance service as a ‘huge issue’.
Edward wants to empower professionals to do their jobs without so much red tape and, more importantly, protect jobs under threat.
“I think that’s going to be an increasing theme over the next few years so I’ll have to work hard to fight to save local jobs,” he added.
When he is not busy in the world of politics or at home with his wife and kids, Edward is a keen runner and has completed six marathons, including the New York Marathon in 2007 and the London Marathon in 2008, and raised more than £4,500 for charity.
He hopes to run another marathon next year after he has settled into the job.
The 34-year-old added: “I went for a run yesterday morning and it was much more of a strain than I remember it being.
“The waves of exhaustion are coming are little more frequently than they used to because, of course, family life does go on.
“Having said all that it’s a huge, huge privilege to do what I’m doing and I’m loving every minute of it.”