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.”
I suspect that Trump all-caps tweet is a livetweet of Fox from tonight (though obviously @MattGertz would know for sure). Host Steve Hilton used similar language. (No way that Trump read that Medium piece) pic.twitter.com/VS0I29Xgqx
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) March 23, 2020
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.
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.
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.