Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 17:59 UK

Profile: Edward Timpson

Edward Timpson
Mr Timpson said he had not been affected by negative attacks

He may have scored a historic victory with a massive swing to the Conservatives, but Edward Timpson's background has been the focus of one the most bitter by-election campaigns in living memory.

According to Labour canvassers he was a "Tory toff", "Thatcher Boy Timpson", "David Cameron's parrot" and a man who believed that "regeneration is adding a new wing to your mansion".

But in spite of the attacks levelled against him - dismissed by the Conservatives as "class war" tactics - Edward Timpson has achieved one of the most spectacular results in recent political history.

Thanks to the voters of Crewe and Nantwich, the 34-year-old barrister is now the first Tory by-election candidate to win a seat from Labour since 1982, and from the Labour party in government since 1978.

But in overturning a 7,000 Labour majority with a swing of 17.6%, Mr Timpson has found himself at the focus of a ferocious political campaign.

'Rich man'

The victor is the son of John Timpson, chief executive of the Timpson shoe repair and key cutting chain, founded in 1865 in Manchester by Edward's great-great grandfather, William.

After a private schooling at Uppingham, he studied politics at Durham University followed by a law conversion course. Called to the Bar in 1998, he built his legal career specialising in family law.

He is very much in touch with reality
Eric Pickles MP

He also lectures to local solicitors and is a member of the Family Law Bar Association.

Married to Julia and with three young children, he lives in a 1.5m mansion 15 miles north of Crewe in Tarporley, Cheshire.

Mr Timpson's so-called "toff" status - he is reportedly the heir to a 53m fortune - was the focus of Labour's attempt to defend its seat.

The party insisted that its stunts, including activists dressing up in top hats and tails, was a light-hearted attempt to illustrate why Mr Timpson could not represent working men and women in the constituency.

"He's a rich man and he won't understand the problems that people face day-to-day," Labour vice-chairman Stephen Ladyman said.

But Mr Timpson's supporters painted a very different picture of the Tory candidate's upbringing.

Labour activists during the Crewe by-election
Labour activists dressed as "toffs" in their campaign against Mr Timpson

His family's tradition of accepting foster children meant that "he has had 80 siblings, all from challenging backgrounds, so he is very much in touch with reality," Tory MP Eric Pickles said.

Mr Timpson, who has completed six marathons, insisted that he had not been fazed by the attacks on him.

"I've not been hurt at all," he told reporters.

"In fact, it's made me stronger and even more determined to put forward our positive message, which is really what people are interested in."

Edward Timpson may have found himself in the firing line, but in the end it was the voters of Crewe and Nantwich who gave him their backing.

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