The appointment of Nick Timothy to the organising committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games has upset some people.

Mr Timothy is a former joint chief of staff in 10 Downing Street.

He worked for Prime Minister Theresa May. And he’s been a confidante of the Prime Minister for some time, advising her when she was Home Secretary.

He’s also a Brummie, born in Tile Cross, Birmingham, and educated at King Edwards VI Aston.

Now, he’s been named as a non-Executive Director to the Birmingham Organising Committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The appointment was made by Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and MP for Kenilworth and Southam.

But Mr Wright is accountable to the Prime Minister and, while she presumably doesn’t oversee everything he does, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have appointed her mate without her approval.

The role is unpaid and Mr Timothy isn’t the only appointment, Other new members of the organising committee include were five-time Paralympic Champion Ellie Simmonds OBE, a swimmer who has also won 14 World titles and 10 European titles, and Lyndsey Jackson, a senior arts administrator who has played a role in the Edinburgh Festival.

Nonetheless, the knives are out.

Labour MP Martin Whitfield told the Daily Mirror: “This is a blatant example of ‘jobs for the boys’.”

Theresa May's advisor Nick Timothy. Photo taken from his Twitter profile.
Theresa May's advisor former Nick Timothy.

Guardian columnist Marina Hyde said the appointment showed that sports and politics “are mostly chumocracies which find jobs for chaps who have repeatedly proved their inadequacies”.

And Rivkah Brown, in the New Statesman magazine, complained about “the stench of cronyism”, and said: “Even for a presence as ghoulish as Timothy, his latest appointment seems spooky”.

I’m rather pleased that Mr Timothy has been offered, and accepted, the role.

Birmingham isn’t organising the games on its own, as demonstrated by the simple fact that these appointments were made by the Government.

 

In fact, central government is to pay 75% of the £750m cost of hosting the 2022 Games.

So it makes a lot of sense to have someone involved in organising the games who knows their way around Whitehall.

Mr Timothy knows how government works, he knows the people to speak to and he knows how to get hold of them.

There aren’t many people who have the Prime Minister’s personal phone number but I’m pretty sure Nick Timothy is one of them.

An artist's impression of Alexander Stadium in Birmingham after its transformation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the third time England has been chosen to host the event
An artist's impression of Alexander Stadium in Birmingham after its transformation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the third time England has been chosen to host the event

For better or for worse, there are a lot of businesses that would pay an awful lot of money to have someone like that on the payroll.

To complain that they’ve given up their time for free to help make Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games a success would be silly.

The biggest charge against Mr Timothy is that he helped oversee the Conservative general election campaign in 2017, which ended in disaster.

Mrs May’s Conservative Party lost its majority, perhaps helping usher in the chaos we see now.

But Mr Timothy is not some sort of monster, unless you count his support for Aston Villa.

His political philosophy, which became known as Erdington Conservatism, is pretty simple at its heart. He believes the Conservatives should become firmly and unambiguously the party of working people.

Back in 2017, the Conservatives ran the worst general election campaign many journalists can remember.

 

While I’m sure it’s unfair to place all the blame on Mr Timothy, I would make this recommendation to colleagues on the Games committee - don’t let him do the PR.

He still, however, brings a lot else to the table.

Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) also complained about Mr Timothy’s appointment.

But I would place his comments in a different category.

He wasn’t so much upset about Mr Timothy getting the job, but at the continued refusal to listen to the people living in the area where the games are taking place, and to him, their MP.

Khalid Mahmood MP.
Khalid Mahmood MP.

I get the impression Mr Mahmood thinks he should be on the organising committee himself. And he may be right.

Some local residents are far from happy about plans to introduce new “Sprint” bus services at a cost of £110 million. They fear the new service will be dangerous, will add to congestion and will actually make existing services worse.

Then there are concerns about housing. The athlete’s village built for the games will provide homes once the event is over, which is great, but Mr Mahmood says the organisers are building properties which are unsuitable for the local families that need them.

I don’t feel qualified to pronounce on whether Mr Mahmood is right in everything he says, but he’s the one elected by local residents.

Of course he should be listened to, by the council, central government and everyone else involved with the games.

Perhaps Mr Timothy could begin his new role by arranging a meeting with Mr Mahmood, and by finding a way to ensure that the local MP is involved in decision-making all the way up to 2022.