A year or two ago I heard of a rather mysterious, highly unorthodox someone whose name I didn’t know, who had been a confidante of the Prime Minister and who had, indeed, been the Godfather of David and Samantha Cameron’s first child, Ivan . . . (who subsequently tragically died at the age of six). He was spoken of as being very brainy, rode a bicycle everywhere and had the entree to any government department (not that he’d be very welcome in some of them, of course), and largely wrote the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2010 General election.
But then he left the country in 2012 and went to California (now a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University). I presumed he’d fallen out with Cameron and he was off to a university position somewhere. I learned a great deal more about him on BBC Newsnight where, as well as showing a documentary of his own making, he was interviewed by Evan Davis fairly extensively. Not only that, but some of the matters he raised were then further discussed between Evan Davies, David Skelton and Tim Montgomerie. If ever there was a plug for his book, More Human, the author’s name now being known to me — Steve Hilton — then I haven’t come across such a one before.
I won’t attempt to summarise the documentary or the interview here, save to say that Hilton’s views are pretty iconoclastic. He still believes in the free market system and neither pro or anti the capitalist system as such, but he thinks that businesses have become too large and corrupt in the way they initiate many governmental regulations in order both to gain large benefits for themselves and also to keep small firms — who might be future competitors with more efficient systems — down and out.
He abjures large bureaucracies, says that senior civil servants “can’t hope to understand ordinary people”, that the governmental systems of advanced countries are “fundamentally broken” by “big money donors” and lobbyists and that the electorate “can’t control things that matter”. Britain in particular was led by an “insular ruling class”. He talks of the “Chipping Norton set” which is an obvious reference to David and Samantha’s personal friends.
So it’s all rather astonishing, not so much what are obviously going to be the contents of the book — which sounds as though it’s going to be very similar to my own posts here — but to his huge political conversion that, presumably, took place when he was close to those at the top of the greasy pole. Will the Cameron family be inviting him to dinner while he is over here.
Anyway, I’ve added my plug to Evan Davies’s and I tentatively recommend More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First, available as a hardbackfrom Amazon from the day after tomorrow, to your goodselves.