Speaking as someone who has spent his entire adult life engaged in a losing battle against being on the wrong side of well-built, I instinctively sympathise with Birmingham Tory council candidate Gary Sambrook, who has been lampooned as a fat, greedy free-loader by his Labour opponents.
Politics, as John Major observed, is a rough trade and anyone who seeks public office would be well advised to acquire a skin like a rhino.
But there can’t be too many 21-year-old Tories contesting a safe Labour seat who have been subjected to such below the belt character assassination.
Sambrook, who is contesting Kingstanding in next month’s council elections, was the subject of a Labour leaflet depicting him as a pig with his snout in the trough, under the eye-catching headline: “Who ate all the pies?”
His crime according to Labour, apart from being on the large side, is that he regularly attends full council meetings where he is, apparently, in the habit of joining his “Tory cronies” and tucking into the dinner laid on for councillors and council officers.
Kingstanding Labour councillor Peter Kane is quoted in the leaflet: “Gary is not even a councillor. Maybe if I make him some sandwiches it will relieve the council tax payer of the burden of feeding him every few weeks.”
The first point to make here is that people in the council chamber public gallery cannot simply stroll into dinner and help themselves to the meat and two veg.
They have to be invited, usually by a councillor, and Mr Sambrook is not the first political hopeful to be asked to break bread with the Lord Mayor. Even hungry journalists have been known to wangle an invitation.
There is of course far more to this than a mere personal attack that went too far, although Labour now admits that is the case.
Kingstanding Labour Party chairman Hugh McCallion has adopted a hands off approach to this election because he is not in the best of health. but took swift action when he became aware of the attack on Sambrook.
McCallion told Iron Angle: “I am neither the agent nor the campaign co-ordinator at this election. I did not see the leaflet before it went out.
“When I did I used whatever little bit of power I have left and ordered its withdrawal and destruction. Luckily not many had hit the streets by that time.”
I suspect the real reason behind Labour’s attack is not the number of pies Sambrook is capable of consuming, but the number of votes he has already gained since launching his political career at a tender age.
He is part of a group of noisy young Tories that has transformed the Conservative Party’s once moribund state in the Erdington Constituency, to the extent that Labour has been losing seats in Erdington ward and Stockland Green, while looking less than comfortable in once rock-solid Kingstanding and Tyburn.