Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
23 March 2020

David Cameron’s chief adviser just said austerity caused 130,000 avoidable deaths

Watch Steve Hilton lambast his own legacy on Fox News.  

By Media Mole

The world of politics has gone somewhat topsy-turvy in recent weeks. Conservative devotees of the free market have found themselves lobbying for unprecedented state intervention. The Labour Party has paused, yes paused, its incessant in-fighting. Piers Morgan has begun to look like a measured and rational interviewer. 

But, Steve Hilton – the Dominic Cummings of the David Cameron years – may just have out-weirded them all. On his Fox News show, Hilton quoted The Guardian (surely some mistake ed.?), saying, “A UK study calculated that 130,000 people died avoidably from austerity.” 

This coming from a man who, as the prime minister’s director of strategy from 2010-2012, was one of the architects of austerity, whose policies led to welfare cuts that will total £37bn by the beginning of next year, and whose idea of a farewell gift to the nation when he went on sabbatical in 2012 for a fellowship at Stanford University was a recommendation for a further £25bn of welfare cuts to the poorest people living in the UK. 

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

The result? Since 2010 homelessness has risen by 141 per cent. Half a million more children are living in poverty. And, oh yes, there have been 130,000 avoidable deaths. 

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

Perhaps we should not be surprised by Hilton’s latest Damascene conversion. After all, the arch-establishment PPE-ist of the Notting Hill set has recently reinvented himself as a populist rabble-rouser on Fox News. And given that The Thick of It’s Stewart Pearson was modelled on Hilton, one can hardly be surprised if the poor chap is occasionally given to doublethink.