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For the record: Steve Hilton is not a hippy

Tim Montgomerie

NoHippy In the last 24 hours there's been much coverage of the differences between Andy Coulson and Steve Hilton. The differences are real but they've been exaggerated and caricatured. It's true that Hilton has been more responsible than any other Cameroon for the "decontamination" of the Tory brand. He has led the emphasis on the environment and general well being. But he's not a hippy. Far from it. Talk to Iain Duncan Smith and he'll tell you that Steve Hilton has been the most reliable of allies in his hard-headed approach to poverty-fighting. No adviser to Cameron is more committed in heart and head to the localist agenda associated with Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell. Hilton, although he hasn't had a great deal of success, is also probably the most forceful advocate of more Euroscepticism.

I could go on but the key thing about any successful kitchen cabinet is that it must include a variety of voices. For the reasons I set out yesterday Coulson will be missed but Steve Hilton should be taken out of the pigeon hole. His energy, restlessness and ambition often needs to be checked but he's vital to Project Cameron's success.

PS I Tweeted last night that Rupert Murdoch played a decisive role in Andy Coulson's departure. My source was Cabinet level. Downing Street rang me this morning, however, to insist that Coulson took the decision himself. I put that denial on the record now.


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