By Tim Montgomerie
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The news has just broken that Steve Hilton is leaving Number 10 in the summer for one year's sabbatical at Stanford University as a visiting scholar. Some wonder if he'll return. I think the answer is no.
Steve is infuriating. He upsets people with his restlessness. Some of his ideas aren't thought out. He has an idea and he expects it to be implemented yesterday. He has an impatience with important things like opinion research. Inexcusably he didn't want his Big Society idea tested before it was launched.
But for all of that he pushed Team Cameron out of its comfort zone. Cameron is surrounded by people who tell him what can't be done. Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn tells Cameron that Idea X will upset the Lib Dems. Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood says Idea Y will need to go through ten committees. George Osborne is capable of big thoughts but often waits until the last moment to give them the green light.
Someone called Steve Thatcher in a T-shirt. Eurosceptic, deregulatory, pro-marriage but also very green and localist. Paul Goodman suggested we think of Steve Hilton as Edmund Burke transported to modern San Francisco – capturing the combination of his love of civil society with his hi-teck-ery.
Has the raven left the Tower?