nick timothyNick Timothy, Theresa May’s joint chief of staff, has been described by Susannah Butler in the ‘i’ printed paper (article not found online) as a ‘proud Birmingham boy’. He was born in Erdington and attended a grammar school, which he feared would be closed if Labour won the 1992 election. She writes that this prompted him to join the Conservative Party.

In July, a Moseley reader emailed “Theresa May’s speech yesterday sounded more left wing than your mate JC!”.

She said: ‘Under my leadership, the Conservative party will put itself — completely, absolutely, unequivocally — at the service of ordinary working people.’

That speech, said to have been influenced by Timothy, was delivered during a visit to Birmingham, when she outlined her vision for social justice, praising Joseph Chamberlain. Henry Mance in the FT notes that Timothy’s political hero is Joseph Chamberlain, a businessman and ‘can-do’ Liberal mayor of Birmingham in the 1870s. In 1884 Chamberlain declared: “My aim in life is to make life pleasanter for this great majority; I do not care if it becomes in the process less pleasant for the well-to-do minority.”

our joeFour years ago Timothy, author of a book about Chamberlain, had written that he gave the Tories ‘an unambiguous mission: the betterment of Britain’s working classes’. Mr Timothy is proposing a “blue collar” Toryism that marks a clear break with David Cameron’s approach:

“We need to keep asking ourselves what, in 2016, does the Conservative party offer a working-class kid from Brixton, Birmingham, Bolton or Bradford?”.

Another journalist in the FT is unconvinced: Giles Wilkes comments that if all Theresa May produces is a gentle sprinkling of tax breaks over “industries of the future”, the results will barely touch the grievances she raised in her speech:

“Whatever has wrought such despair in those hostile to globalisation needs sustained attention across the whole range of policy: in how land is regulated and taxed, in workers’ rights and in the fiscal and macro economic approach”.