The marketing guru credited in some quarters with making the Tories electable again.
By Oliver Hotham
Marketing guru Steven Hilton has stepped down as director of strategy for the prime minister today to take an academic sabbatical in California.
His departure will remove a major component of David Cameron's political team. It was Hilton who was behind the greener, kinder, more metropolitan Conservative vision which characterised the early stages of Cameron's tenure at Tory leader.
Hilton reportedly voted Green in 2001, although he has long been part of the upper echelons of Conservative social circles. His liberal centrism played a huge role in "detoxifying" the Conservative brand and helped make the Tories electable again.
Gone were the right wing law and order and immigration messages of Michael Howard's election campaign. In came Cameron with the huskies and the (misquoted) 'hug a hoodie' speech.
Upon his ascension to the leadership, Cameron hired Hilton, who he had met working at the Conservative Central Office as his director of strategy. Hilton was then known for having come up with the "New Labour, New Danger" advertisement by Saatchi and Saatchi.
As director of strategy, Hilton played a huge role in bringing the image of David Cameron to the centre-ground of British politics, encouraging him to focus more on the environment and to hire more women and minorities to senior positions.
Hilton's role was seen as marketing the prime minister for a more liberal audience, those who had switched to Blair in 1997.
His departure will no doubt be seen as a blow to the centrist 'big society' idea and could see the Conservative party respond more easily to the demands of its backbenchers.