25 August 1969 |
New College, Oxford
Steve Hilton (born 25 August 1969) is a former director of strategy for David Cameron, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. He is currently a lecturer and visiting scholar at Stanford University.
Hilton is the son of Hungarian immigrants whose original surname was Hircsák (alternative spelling: Hircksac), who fled their home during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. They came to Britain, initially claiming asylum, and anglicised their name to Hilton.
After graduating, Hilton joined Conservative Central Office, where he came to know David Cameron and Rachel Whetstone, his future wife and Global VP of Public Affairs and Communications for Google. He liaised with the party's advertising firm, Saatchi and Saatchi, and was praised by Maurice Saatchi, who remarked, "No one reminds me as much of me when young as Steve." During this time Hilton came up with the "New Labour, New Danger" demon eyes poster campaign for the Conservative's pre-general election campaign in 1996, which won an award from the advertising industry's Campaign magazine at the beginning of 1997. In 2005, Hilton lost out to future Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove in the selection process for the Surrey Heath constituency.
Hilton talked of the need to "replace" the traditionally minded grassroots membership of the Conservative party, which he saw was preventing the party from embracing a more metropolitan attitude on social issues.
It is alleged that Hilton said "I voted Green" after the Labour landslide of 2001, but since then he has worked with Cameron to re-brand the Conservative party as green and progressive. According to The Economist Hilton "remains appallingly understood". There were reports that Hilton's 'blue sky thinking' caused conflict in Whitehall and, according to Nicholas Watt of The Guardian, Liberal Democrats around deputy prime minister Nick Clegg considered him to be a "refreshing but wacky thinker".
On 2 March 2012, Downing Street announced that Hilton would be a "visiting scholar" at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies for a year. His last memo concerned the advocacy of severe cuts in the number of civil servants in the United Kingdom and further welfare cuts.
Hilton is co-founder and CEO of Crowdpac.com, a Silicon Valley technology start-up.
Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, a former aide (political secretary) to Michael Howard, who is now head of communications at Google. The couple were godparents to David Cameron's son Ivan, who died at age six.
On 7 January 2010 it was reported that in October 2008 Hilton had been arrested. He had been rushing to catch a train back to London after the Conservative Party Conference and had a dispute with the train staff. He was later fined £80.
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- "Tory MP threatens Cameron with water clock torture - Gary Gibbon on Politics". channel4.com. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
- "The government has lost its ultimate radical". The Economist. 2 March 2012.
- Nicholas Watt "Steve Hilton policy leaks show Downing Street divide over David Cameron aide", The Guardian, 28 July 2011
- "David Camerons stratergy chief takes one year sabbatical". The Metro. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Iain Watson "Steve Hilton's civil service attack uncovers coalition tensions", BBC News, 18 May 2012
- Patrick Wintour "Steve Hilton's parting shots: £25bn in cuts and a broadside at the civil service", The Guardian, 16 May 2012
- [https://www.eventbrite.com/e/institute-of-politics-winter-2014-fellow-steve-hilton-reforming-the-conservative-party-in-the-uk-registration-10103777671 biography at University of Chicago Institute of Politics
- Carlin, Brendan (January 3, 2010). "Setback for Cameron as senior Conservatives revolt against shaven-headed '10-year-old' image supremo". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "Cameron aide Steve Hilton arrested at station in 2008". BBC. January 7, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
- Watt, Nicholas (January 8, 2010). "Tories fear plot to destablise Cameron's strategy chief". London: The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
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