Steve Hilton: Axe maternity leave to boost the economy, says Cameron guru

Surprise: Steve Hilton, architect of the big society, suggested axing maternity leave and European labour laws

David Camerons controversial policy guru has left colleagues dumbfounded by suggesting that the Government should abolish maternity leave and scrap all consumer rights laws to help kick start the economy.

Steve Hilton, Mr Camerons director of strategy, also suggested that the Prime Minister should abolish all job centres and ignore all European labour rules.

Shaven-headed Mr Hilton, who is the architect of Mr Camerons widely-derided Big Society, made the bizarre suggestions at a meeting to discuss the Governments growth strategy in March.

But senior officials, including Downing Streets permanent secretary Jeremy Heywood, were left startled by his extraordinary ideas.

One insider told the Financial Times: ‘Steve asked why the PM had to obey the law. Jeremy had to explain that if David Cameron breaks the law he could be put in prison.’

When Mr Hilton was looking at ways to cut the deficit, he suggested abolishing hundreds of government press officers and replacing them with a single person in each department, who would communicate via a blog.  

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But his most controversial idea was to scrap maternity rights. ‘Steve thinks that they are the biggest obstacle to women finding work,’ said the insider.

‘He also wanted to suspend all consumer rights legislation for nine months to see what would happen.’

David Cameron, pictured yesterday at the Olympic volleyball site, has known trusted aide Mr Hilton since 1992

Mr Hilton is hugely admired by Mr Cameron for his original thinking, but his wacky ideas are increasingly exasperating officials and colleagues.

One senior No 10 source confirmed that the ideas were raised. But added: ‘Steve has many ideas. but not many of them see the light of day.’

The Prime Ministers director of strategy was recently reported to be close to quitting after growing exasperated over recent Government U-turns.

Mr Hilton is behind controversial plans to transform the public sector by bringing in more private firms to run services.

Chancellor George Osborne has blocked a number of Mr Hiltons more radical suggestions and is more cautious about the pace of reform.

Meanwhile, Mr Hilton – who is known to pad around Downing Street without his shoes on and cycles around Whitehall in a T-shirt and shorts – has told colleagues the world must have changed by 2015 – the date of the next General Election.

Mr Hilton met Mr Cameron at Conservative Central Office in 1992, where they worked together on John Majors victory.

Old friends: Steve Hilton, who is walk around Downing Street without shoes, films David Cameron during a visit to a Mumbai slum while the Tories were in opposition in 2006

When Mr Cameron went into PR at Carlton TV, Mr Hilton worked for advertising guru Maurice Saatchi. In 1997 he was behind the famous Demon Eyes attack on Tony Blair.

Mr Hilton, who is married to Michael Howards communications chief Rachel Whetstone, has been at the heart of the Cameroon project and its Notting Hill Set since.

In opposition, he once suggested that the Tories buy cloud-busting technology to provide Britain with more sunshine.

His horizon shift thinking and mood boards used to enrage Andy Coulson, Mr Camerons former head of communications.

Former Cabinet minister David Mellor has likened him to Rasputin, who had an infamous hold on Russias last tsar.

 

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 11:43 am and is filed under Health Ideas. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 

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