Cameron’s Mr Blue Sky: how we found out our own policies from the papers
On sabbatical in California, Steve Hilton reveals ‘horror’ at how No 10 really works
Sunday 13 January 2013
As one of the Prime Minister’s closest Downing Street advisers, he was known for his blue-sky thinking, his bare feet and his bike.
Now safely ensconced in California, Steve Hilton is railing against British bureaucracy in a way only he would – sitting in a polo shirt with his feet up, chewing mints and sipping a drink.
His attitude to teaching might be – literally – laid-back, but 5,000 miles from the political infighting of Whitehall, Steve Hilton has laid bare to American students the extent of confusion and the lack of control at the heart of the British Government.
David Cameron often found out about his own Government’s policies second-hand, from stories in newspapers and on radio, he said, revealing his “horror” at the powerlessness of Number 10 to control Government decisions. The architect of Mr Cameron’s “Big Society,” who is widely thought to have inspired the character Stewart Pearson in political satire The Thick Of It, claimed the Prime Minister was often left in the dark about policy changes by anonymous “paper-shuffling” Whitehall mandarins.
“Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or in the news or see something in the newspapers about something the Government is doing,” he told a group of Stanford University students. “And you think, well, just hang on a second – it’s not just that we didn’t know it was happening, but we don’t even agree with it.”
In an account published by the Sunday Times, he is said to have told students that only 30 per cent of government time was spent delivering policies they were “supposed” to be delivering, while 40 per cent was spent implementing EU regulations.
“It just shows you the scale of what you are up against,” he said. “When I found that out it was pretty horrific. It’s a brilliant system for paper-shuffling people to be in control.”
Mr Hilton made the remarks to students during an hour-long seminar, entitled “How to Make Change Happen in Government”. Downing Street announced in May last year that Mr Hilton was taking a year’s unpaid sabbatical to spend more time with his wife and family, but friends said he had become increasingly dismayed at the influence wielded by the Liberal Democrats within the Coalition. He took up a post as a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for international studies, and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.
A source of considerable tension in Mr Hilton’s last months were disputes with Whitehall. He is believed to have referred to Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service, as “Bungalow Bob” and suggested he was trying to protect underperforming staff from cuts.
Rumoured to be returning to Downing Street in time to play a role in the 2015 election campaign, Mr Hilton told the students that he had recently been “chatting” to the Prime Minister. A Number 10 spokesman declined to comment.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...
£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...