The Times says this in one of its leader columns today:

Grey hair and gravitas win votes; even the bald do better than the cherubic. In last year’s US elections, the candidate perceived as more competent won in 71 per cent of the senate races. And perception often amounts to no more than a subliminal blink at a poster or television image. Does this mean that, without lavish application of a reverse Grecian 2000 formula, David Cameron will never wear the Tory leader’s mantle? Is this why Tim Collins and Stephen Twigg, whose youthful round faces show little careworn sign of etiolated angst, lost their seats?

The answer to this last question, incidentally, is “No, in both cases.”


A friend alerts me to this diary piece in yesterday’s Independent:

* The sad death of Patsy Calton, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheadle, has already set Westminster buzzing with talk of a by-election.One man in the running for the knife-edge poll is Tim Collins, the former Tory frontbencher, who lost his seat (also in the North-West) to the Lib Dems at the general election.

Collins has previously told friends that his preferred route back onto the Conservative benches would not be a by-election, since “he’d prefer to go through a normal selection process”.

The marginal Cheadle (maj 4,000) will be tempting, though: it offers a chance for revenge on the party that booted him out of office, and would catapult Collins, a Harry Potter lookalike, into the thick of power-broking over his party’s leadership.

Not meaning to be macabre, etc., but why did the Lib Dems pick these various candidates on the brink of death to fight their seats? Was it just a Midlands/North-West thing, or were they doing it all over the country? Perhaps we’ll find out over the next few weeks and months.

Too Poignant For Words

From today’s Guardian, in a piece about what happens to those who lose their seats at election time:

I had hoped to talk to Tim Collins, former shadow education spokesman and the most prominent of the Tories who lost on May 5, but he too has gone to ground. “His defeat was totally unexpected,” says a press spokesman at Conservative campaign HQ. “He has had many requests for interviews, but has declined them all.” Little wonder: Collins is 41, a politician from the cradle, living and breathing the Westminster air. He has not just lost his job; he has lost his oxygen supply.

Has Tim Collins never had a proper job? (The things I still don’t know about this enigmatic man! But, hang on, what did he get his CBE for, if not for something not-entirely-politics-related? He might not be Tim Collins CBE MP anymore, but he is still Tim Collins CBE.)There are signs at Borders bookshop in Oxford advertising a forthcoming appearance by Tim Collins, but, sadly, it’s not the Tim Collins of the Stoa, but another chap with the same name.

The Seats of the Stoa, Ten

And, finally, to complete this alphabetical survey, we come to Westmorland & Lonsdale, where Virtual Stoa favourite Tim Collins failed to beat off a challenge from the Lib Dems and became the only Shadow Cabinet Minister to fall victim to the so-called decapitation so-called strategy. What went wrong? It’s hard to say. Right at the start of the election season I signed up to receive “special messages from Tim” over at timcollins.co.uk, but special messages came there none. So that’s it for the Tim Collins Watch, at least for the time being. If I do manage to find out what he does post-defeat — you know, get a job, or something — I’ll let you all know.

Tim Collins Watch

I haven’t been paying attention for a while, I’m afraid. Apologies for that. So Tim’s redone his front page, finally removing the Hague-era “common sense revolution” iconography.

But what I like most of all, though, is his first campaign pledge:

  • “I will make sure we stop paying out hundreds of millions for people who abuse our shambolic asylum system, abandon plans to scrap the pound and use the money saved to put an extra 340 police officers in Cumbria’s towns and villages.”
  • I think that’s lovely.Anyway, you should all scurry over and sign up over there to “show your support for Tim Collins’ campaign”, because, if you do, you’ll receive “special messages from Tim”. I can’t wait.

    Tim’s defending a majority of 3,147 in Westmorland and Lonsdale against the Lib Dems, so he’ll need all the encouragement he can get.

    In other Tim Collins news, Tim Collins, a big Doctor Who fan, has praised the new series, saying that it’s “fantastic”. And a very disloyal P. Schooling of London has written to the BBC [scroll down for the vox pops] to say, “I am horrified to discover that I have something in common with Tim Collins”.

    UPDATE [13.4.05]: Nick Barlow’s watching Mr Collins, too, and doesn’t like what he sees.

    Thanks to Nick Barlow…

    for keeping a Tim Collins Watch going while I haven’t been paying attention. Apparently he (that’s Tim, not Nick) has recently bought a Will Young CD, which is pretty shameful, and has also gone on to insist that it was for his wife, which is worse.

    UPDATE [two minutes later]: Now I really am going to throw up. From the same BBC report (at the bottom): “Unveiling the conference set to the strains of remixed Elvis hit “A Little Less Conversation (A Little More Action)”, he [= Dr Liam Fox] said the aim was to be “intimate and engaging”.” Readers! Would you like to be intimate with the contemporary Conservative Party? With which current members would you prefer a little more action?

    More to the political point, what planet are these people on?

    He Works For You

    My goodness, I’m glad I signed up for the Tim Collins Email List. Otherwise I’d never have heard about this important event:

    CUMBRIAN MP HOSTS COUNTDOWN RECEPTION AT HOUSE OF COMMONS: The Channel 4 quiz programme Countdown celebrated 21 years at a special House of Commons reception hosted by South Lakes MP Tim Collins on Tuesday 13 July. For more on this story, click here.

    Sadly, you don’t get much more on the story when you follow the link, just that “Mr Collins, who is also the Shadow Education Secretary, used the reception to explore how the unique Countdown word and number game can be used to promote numeracy and literacy amongst schoolchildren” and that “The South Lakes MP was joined by the show’s hosts Carole Vorderman and Richard Whiteley together with other MPs and guests at the event.” Well, that’s good to know.