Edward Timpson MP appointed to strengthen Number 10's relations with 'Class of 2010'
More news from inside Number 10. Edward Timpson MP, the winner of the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, will be joining Downing Street's political unit, to work alongside the PM's Political Secretary, Stephen Gilbert, on campaigning and building better relations with the new intake of Tory MPs (half of the parliamentary party). A little while ago I recommended Timpson for almost this kind of job (none of my other recommendations were accepted!):
"He's young and fresh enough to relate to the new MPs. Sat on a marginal seat and an accomplished campaigner he also shares the new intake's nervousness about re-election."
Timpson will assume these extra responsibilities and remain Theresa May's Parliamentary Private Secretary. Within the next week Downing Street will also appoint a figure from the Lords to help David Cameron keep in touch with opinion in the Upper House.
Downing Street is working much harder now with relationships with the new intake. Cameron has, I understand, doubled the amount of time he is spending with backbenchers. Two particularly important developments are his outreach to the Group of Forty MPs, all representing marginal seats, and regular meetings, hosted by the PM's own PPS, Desmond Swayne, with all of the Parliamentary Private Secretaries (also totalling about 40).
- Oliver Dowden: Based at Number 11 but integral to the whole Cameron/Osborne set-up, the PM's Political Advisor runs harder-edged operations for the Tory leadership. Nicknamed "Olive" for reasons I've never quite understood, Andy Coulson was known to hold Dowden in the highest regard. Working with Douglas Smith, desked at CCHQ, they coordinate opposition research and also troubleshoot - working with the whips to nip emerging problems with Tory MPs in the bud. The Unit works closely with the innocuously-titled Downing Street Strategy Group of backbench Tory MPs on "rottweiler" operations against Labour.
- Tim Chatwin: A former Education researcher at CCHQ, Chatwin has been part of Team Cameron from day one - helping coordinate the 2005 leadership campaign. He ran the planning grid in opposition and continues to do so at Number 10, meaning he is involved in managing a broad range of political, parliamentary, ministerial and civil service relationships. Steve Hilton is known to lean heavily on Chatwin, who also covers the Olympics for the PM.
- Rohan Silva: One insider describes the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Rohan as "without doubt the most creative and energetic policy thinker we have, constantly pushing us to be more bold and radical on reform, in a deregulatory, pro-enterprise direction". Another calls him "the great networker". He developed the transparency agenda in opposition and is pushing the Treasury team - of which he was once a member - to be more radical in its approach to smaller and hi-tech businesses. He is a driving thinker of Whitehall's shake-up of public sector procurement.
- Peter Campbell is one of the great survivors of Tory politics. A long-standing researcher at CCHQ, who worked for John Major until 1997, this former Croydon councillor now oversees political briefing for David Cameron - notably for PMQs.