Lobbying Target - Eric Pickles, shadow secretary for communities and local govt

Yorkshireman Pickles is becoming increasingly popular among Tories. He is also as far away from David Cameron's Notting Hill Set as it gets.

- Ten-second biography

Pickles joined the Conservative Party aged 16 and went on to be leader of Bradford Council. He has been MP for Brentwood and Ongar since 1992, but was only brought into David Cameron's shadow cabinet last year. Also serves as the party's deputy chairman.

- What is his background?

Pickles grew up in Yorkshire and was educated at grammar school and Leeds Polytechnic. He comes from Labour-supporting stock and recently told The Guardian how he became a Tory in 1968: 'I was 16 years old and the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. I was so incensed... I joined the Tory party.'

- Where does he sit politically?

A former Thatcherite, he has embraced Cameron's more inclusive brand of Conservatism but remains somewhat to the right of many of his shadow cabinet colleagues.

- Why is he a man to watch?

Pickles' open media persona has been well received by journalists and the party's grassroots also like him. Pickles also gained plaudits earlier this year as the popular architect of the Tory victory in Crewe and Nantwich.

- Something you might not know

Pickles can be found hosting a slot on Essex's Phoenix FM. The show describes itself as non-political, with plenty of great guests, good conversation and bickering about music.

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