Steve hilton

Exclusive: Steve Hilton jetting in to help with Cameron’s conference speech

Steve Hilton is, I understand, returning to help with David Cameron’s conference speech. Cameron’s one time political guru is now based in California, where he has launched the US political fundraising website Crowdpac. But he has made a point of returning each year to work on Cameron’s conference speech before heading back to the US. The decision to invite him to help out this year is particularly interesting given his view that Jeremy Corbyn is being underestimated. Hilton tweeted a few days ago that ‘cynical, pompous Westminster bubble trashes #Corbyn first week because he can’t play their game. not a pretty sight’. In response to Corbyn winning the Labour leadership,

Letters | 25 June 2015

Free trade with Africa Sir: Nicholas Farrell suggests that a naval blockade is the only solution to Italy’s immigration crisis (‘The invasion of Italy’, 20 June). Examining the causes of the situation might identify other measures. Since the European Union effectively closed its borders to trade with Africa to protect European farmers from lower food prices, the agricultural economies of most African countries have been in decline. Of course there is another reason for Africa’s decline. About 60 years ago, the Europeans found it convenient to convince themselves that in Africa self-government was better than good government. It followed that aid would be a convenient substitute for the risks or

Elysian fields

There is a phrase that has been fashionable for years in wonkland — places like the upper echelons of the civil service and high-end think tanks. The phrase is ‘evidence-based policy-making’. There, I bet that’s got you going. When I was a citizen of wonkland and heard those words from the Sir Humphreys and Lady Susans I would typically roll my eyes or head for the door, because you can generally gather whatever evidence you want to justify whatever policy you want. In the end, you have to believe in something. Have the courage of your convictions and be judged by the results. But the reason I bring this up

What can modern politics learn from Thatcher? Charles Moore will tell us

The first volume of Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher is one of the finest political books of recent times. With the second volume due out in October, Charles, a columnist for both the Telegraph and this magazine, has agreed to also become a visiting scholar at the think tank Policy Exchange where he will work on what lessons contemporary politics can learn from Margaret Thatcher’s career. Policy Exchange has long been the favourite think tank of the Tory modernisers. With Charles and Steve Hilton’s arrival, it will be at the centre of the debate about where the Tory party should go next. For a flavour of the discussions to

Letters | 28 May 2015

Why we don’t need mayors Sir: There are a number of arguments against Steve Hilton’s call for more than 10,000 mayors (‘We need 10,000 mayors’, 23 May). One is that such an idea ruptures the whole tradition of British municipal administration, under which a system of elected councils is maintained to which executive officers are answerable. Another is that it may be doubted whether there is enough administrative talent available to exercise a substituent mayoral system effectively and efficiently. Politics will always get in the way, for one thing — a factor that our present system of councils takes into account. Form is not so far encouraging, either. Mr Hilton

Alan Yentob admits he inspired W1A bicycle plotline

With the BBC’s self satire W1A proving to be one of the corporation’s most popular shows, much has been made of whether the comedy is too close for comfort given that they are up for charter renewal next year. Indeed Alan Yentob was mocked in March after he was photographed with a bike which bore a striking resemblance to the one owned by Ian Fletcher – Hugh Bonneville’s fictional BBC ‘Head of Values’ character. Then, in the most recent episode, Fletcher sported a newer model of fold-up bike, which bore an even closer likeness to Yentob’s own £1,000 Brompton bike. When Mr S caught up with Yentob at the annual GQ and Land Rover

Steve Hilton talks Cameron, Crosby and Vincecablefreude at book launch

David Cameron’s former director of strategy Steve Hilton is in town this week to promote his new book More Human. Mr S was a guest at the book launch in East London where Cameron was serenaded by a violinist while George Osborne and Ed Vaizey raised a glass in celebration of the tome. In his speech, Hilton couldn’t help but offer his own verdict on the election, making sure to pay tribute to his former boss: ‘I am very happy to say welcome Prime Minister. I think the real reason this book is helpful to the Prime Minister is that he can actually say “see, see what I had to put up with all those

Steve Hilton returns to the British political scene

In 2012, Steve Hilton quit his role as David Cameron’s senior adviser in frustration at the compromises of coalition and the slow pace of reform. Since then, he has maintained an almost total vow of silence on British politics. He had no desire to say anything that could be turned into a tricky headline for the Tories. But with the Tories having won the election—and with a majority—Hilton is dipping his toe back in the British political water. As well as doing various events to promote his new book More Human, he is also joining the Cameroon think tank Policy Exchange as a visiting scholar. Hilton’s arrival is a coup

Dominic Cummings (who ought to know) is not impressed by Michael Barber, Tony Blair’s former adviser and self-styled ‘delivery man’

In 2001, Tony Blair took Sir Michael Barber from his perch as special adviser in the Department for Education and brought him into Downing Street. Once there Barber set up Blair’s ‘Delivery Unit’ and oversaw his attempts to reform public services. He then moved to the McKinsey consultancy where he cloned his unit for governments around the world. He has now written a book, How to Run a Government, about what he calls ‘deliverology’ — an ‘emerging science of delivery’. It is part memoir and part a ‘how to’ manual describing ‘a set of processes that enables governments to deliver ambitious goals’. Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s adviser, is reported saying

Farewell WebCameron, and the legacy of Steve Hilton

The Tories’ attempts to erase their own online history are wider than first thought. After ‘cleaning up’ their website by hiding pre-2010 speeches and announcements, The Guardian’s Alex Hern reveals that the WebCameron videos have been made private on YouTube: ‘Now it has emerged that every video on the Conservatives’ YouTube page that dates from before 2010 has been removed or marked as private. Videos such as Ask David Cameron: Shared ownership, EU referendum, PMQs are now marked as unavailable on YouTube. Others, such as Boris Johnson at the pre-election rally in Swindon, and David Cameron down on the farm, are now unlisted, ensuring that only users with a direct link

Look who’s back: Steve Hilton returns to help with Cameron’s conference speech

When Steve Hilton left Downing Street he regarded his friend David Cameron’s premiership as a disappointment. As Matt d’Ancona reports, Hilton regarded Cameron as ‘reactive not transformative’. When he didn’t return at the end of his sabbatical, it was thought that was that. But for the last few days, Hilton has been back. When Cameron asked him to come and help on his conference speech, their old friendship kicked in and Hilton flew back from California. He was one of five people who hunkered down with Cameron at Chequers from Tuesday to Wednesday evening to work out how the Tory leader should respond to Miliband. With Hilton, Cameron and Michael

Frank Field interview: Labour needs to do something dramatic to win back its lost working class voters

There’s one government adviser who still feels Steve Hilton’s absence very keenly indeed. ‘He was always thinking ahead, how do we set the debate rather than endlessly react to it, that was why he was such a delight to work for. All the time he was racing ahead. It was difficult to keep up with him. I just thought he was brilliant, he was just wonderful.’ But it’s not a Tory MP or spinner who is missing the Prime Minister’s ‘blue-sky’ guru: this adviser is Labour MP Frank Field, appointed by the government when it formed to work with David Cameron on how to tackle poverty. He suspects that it

The Tory modernisers are Margaret Thatcher’s true heirs

Margaret Thatcher’s death has inevitably prompted intense reflection among Tories about what lessons the party should learn from her time in office. ‘We must finish the job’ is the refrain on the lips of Thatcherite ministers, and there are more of those today than there were a year ago. The experience of office has had a radicalising effect on the Cameroons. To be sure, today’s circumstances are not the same as those of 1979 or ’89. Her exact policy prescription is not what is required. This is something that Thatcher, a politician who relished fresh thinking, would have appreciated. But what the party does need is the spirit of Thatcherism,

Cecil Parkinson, Charles Powell, John Simpson and Steve Hilton remember Margaret Thatcher

Cecil Parkinson: Underestimated – but unbowed Even among Mrs Thatcher’s original shadow Cabinet, there were those who simply did not believe that she would be capable of dealing with the problems of a declining country. To a man they were wrong. Each underestimated the determination of Margaret Thatcher. She did not regard the manifesto on which she had been elected as a set of pledges designed merely to win an election and to be abandoned when the going got tough. She intended to honour hers: to reduce the role of the state; to transfer power to the people. Trade union members were given the right to elect their leaders at regular

The guru speaks

A Maggie-tastic jam-packed Spectator tomorrow. Amongst the tributes, the words of Steve Hilton stuck out: ‘I saw her as thrillingly anti-establishment; as much of a punk, and as brilliantly British, as Vivienne Westwood, who once impersonated her on the cover of Tatler. Margaret Thatcher had the virtues most valued in today’s culture: innovation, energy, daring. She was Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Lady Gaga all rolled into one — and a thousand times more consequential than any of them. In today’s techno-business jargon, she was the ultimate political disruptor: determined to shake things up, unleash competition, challenge and confront vested interests. To be transformative, being reasonable doesn’t get you very

Life imitating art

Twitter superstar @SteveHiltonGuru disappeared with his real life namesake – the departed Downing Street policy wonk; but he’s back for one week only. After teasing Westminster for months, the brains behind the spoof account of the brains behind Dave, has written for this week’s Spectator about how he did it. @SteveHiltonGuru may be gone, but he was certainly not forgotten if the real Hilton’s departure bash is anything to go by: ‘At Hilton’s leaving party, I was delighted to hear Michael Gove’s speech based on the character I had created. Steve had been true to his Hungarian roots, the Education Secretary said: half-Buddha and half-pest. I wish I’d thought of

Lord Ashcroft frozen out, again

The Tories’ shadowy donor-cum-puppetmaster has been given the cold shoulder, yet again. Taking full proprietor privileges at ConservativeHome, he’s taken aim at young Dave’s departed brain, Steve Hilton. It seems that the guru has left the Lord of Belize off his Republican National Convention party guest list: ‘Apparently, the event to be seen at is to be hosted by none other than Steve Hilton. Unreliable rumour has it that he has taken for the occasion an enormous house on Tampa Bay’s prestigious Harbour Island. What can he be up to? Clearly he is keeping his hand in. Unfortunately my invitation has not arrived so I can report no further for

Slashing and burning the civil service, or just skimming off the top?

Are Francis Maude’s £5.5bn savings in central government spending a significant step forward in his battle to shrink the public sector? In today’s Telegraph, the Cabinet Office minister explains the beneficiaries and sources of the latest cutbacks: Today I can announce that in 2011-12 we saved £5.5 billion. This is the equivalent of around £500 for each working household in Britain or enough money to fund 1.6 million primary school places. How did we make these savings? Within the first days of this Government we introduced tough temporary spending controls. These limited expenditure on IT contracts, property, marketing, temporary staff and consultancy. While civil service spending has steadily decreased — £3.75bn alone was saved in

Overhauling the Rolls Royce

‘I was sceptical [about civil service reform] until I read that unreadable column.’ This was the response of a Westminster type who I spoke to earlier about Francis Maude and Sir Bob Kerslake’s joint article on civil service reform in today’s Telegraph. Having re-read the jargon-ridden piece, I see what he means. Take this passage: ‘The Civil Service has to have a culture which is pacier, more innovative, less hierarchical and focused on outcomes not process. We also need sharper accountability, in particular from permanent secretaries and those leading major projects, and we need more digital services, better data and management information and for policy and implementation to be linked

The strains on the Cameron-Hilton relationship

I suspect that ‘Weekend secrets of the “chillaxing” Prime Minister’ (£) is one of the last headlines that Number 10 wanted to see this Saturday. It is acutely sensitive about the idea that Cameron doesn’t work hard enough, a charge that it thinks is as unfair as it is damaging. But perhaps more interesting than the details of the Prime Minister’s Sunday routine — a ‘crap film’ and a few glasses of wine at lunch — is what Francis Elliott and James Hanning reveal about the Cameron-Hilton relationship. As Cameron’s biographers, Elliott and Hanning know the Cameron circle extremely well and they provide an intriguing perspective on what has happened