Splits appear in Tory election strategy team

Splits have emerged within David Cameron's top team over the influence of an adviser on the party's direction. Some shadow ministers are known to resent the casual style of Steve Hilton, the Tory leader's trusted strategy director, who is fond of sending them emails advising them "how to think".

Others have protested over colleagues' disloyalty by forwarding copies of his jargon-rich "strategy bulletins" to newspapers. Cameron aides made said last night there was no prospect of Mr Hilton changing his methods or stopping his emails to senior Tories.

Mr Hilton, who is a close friend of David and Samantha Cameron, has been credited with rebranding the party to enhance its green and liberal credentials. With the party stalling at about 39 per cent in the polls – barely enough to win an overall majority at the election – doubts are surfacing over the party's direction.

Senior party sources acknowledged there was some discontent over Mr Hilton's access to the Tory leader. But another insisted: "The atmosphere in and around David's office is very good."