I've heard from a couple of sources (one very reliable) that Darlington's Tories are now in receipt of "Ashcroft money".
This is the crude attempt by the Tory peer to "buy" Conservative victories in key marginals by splurging their parties with cash, in a way that neither Labour nor the LibDems can afford to match. He pulled a similar stunt before the last General Election.
If the rumour's true, then the first fruit of His Lordship's largesse is now dropping through Darlington's letterboxes. It comes in the form of a "newsletter" from our old friend Captain LeGrand.
Edward is pictured on the front cover with the town clock in profile in front of the open market stalls. He's on his own (again) but at least the Pedestrian Heart looks fine.
Now that we don't do class politics any more, it's surely right that the biography on the back glosses over the fact that Edward is the second son of a Yorkshire baronet with a stately pile to go with it.
Of rather more concern is Edward's maths. He reports that "several weeks ago" he accompanied Gill and Mike Cartwright on their bus stunt from Whinfield. Err, well that was on 17th June, according to Gill's own blogsite, which was actually 26 weeks ago. Is 26 "a few" now? I guess that explicitly reporting news from the summer would make Edward and his band of Darlington Tories look, well, out of touch.
Similarly, "Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour" features a picture of Edward and Cllr. Alex Nicholson dated 18th June on the Tories' own website. Even Edward, however, has to admit that the Post Ofice story happened "several months ago". From information on Mike Barker's and Mike Cartwright's blogs, I reckon that picture was taken in February!
And a sad postscript - just what happens to defectors who sign up to the Tory cause? Certainly for the benefit of the media, at first they're lionized. So when Nigel Boddy joined the Tories from the LibDems in November 2007, there were messages of welcome from David Cameron and M'Lord Bates, no less. Michael Bates said "Nigel is a well-respected figure in North-East politics, and is very welcome to join our party, which is dedicated to taking the region forward."
Ah, how long ago that sounds now. Leafletting is probably the least glamorous political exercise, and to get a communication out town-wide means it's all hands to the pump. No-one thought to call poor Nigel, however, who was reduced to leaving a rather pathetic message on the Darlington Conservatives' site offering his help in future deliveries.
If that isn't a cry for attention, I don't know what is. For goodness sake, Heather and Charles, pick up the phone and talk to the man! It is Christmas after all.