In the news

18th June 2010 at 01:00

Jonathan Hill

Who is this chap?

You've probably not heard of him, but meet Lord Hill of Oareford, your new under secretary of state for schools. Working with the three elected ministers and, of course, Education Secretary Michael Gove, he will have responsibility for much that is controversial in the Conservative policy portfolio including the expansion of the academies programme and the Swedish-style "free schools". He will also inherit what is left of the National Challenge initiative.

Some list! What is his background?

Born in 1960, Lord Hill is married with three children. He was educated at the independent Highgate School in north London and read history at Cambridge. A career Conservative, he was political secretary to John Major and one of the key figures in that prime minister's inner circle.

Wowza. That must have been wild?

Well, maybe. He did play a part in the team that upset the odds and won the 1992 election. However, he was also at Sir John's side when he was walloped by Tony Blair in 1997. Much of this was recorded in a memoir of that era he co-wrote with fellow Number 10 insider Sarah Hogg, called Too Close to Call. It wasn't exactly critically acclaimed, with one reviewer damning it as "Five go to Downing Street".

What has he been doing since?

This is where it gets a bit tasty. Lord Hill, or plain old Jonathan Hill as he was then, was a founding director of Quiller Consultants, a lobbying firm with connections across Westminster but widely associated with the blue half of Parliament. The company is, however, controversial because it does not reveal its client list. Interestingly, Lord Hill's profile was removed from the firm's website within hours of his appointment to the department - a lobbyist as minister may not have been the kind of publicity the coalition Government was after.

What can we expect from Lord Hill?

He was quiet at first while he got up to speed, but is now raring to go. He made his debut in the House of Lords on Monday with a robust defence of the controversial Academies Bill. You may not know his face now, but you had better get used to it. He is likely to be around for some time.

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