Rachel Whetstone

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Rachel Whetstone, Spin doctor and think tanker

Rachel Marjorie Joan Whetstone (22 February 1968) is Vice President, Global Communications & Public Affairs for Google, based in Santa Clara, California, which she joined in 2005, 'after 15 years advising senior politicians and FTSE companies on their strategic communications.'[1] Whetstone is a former conservative party operative, a former chief of staff to Michael Howard[2] and close to David Cameron, the partner of PR operative and Tory speechwriter Steve Hilton. She was trustee of the Tory connected think-tank Policy Exchange from 7 July 2003 until 2013.

Background

A Sunday Times report in 2006 asked 'have Hilton and Whetstone become Britain's new power couple?':

In some respects they are chalk and cheese, he "classless", she "the kind of person who might say 'yah' when drunk"... She had grown up in a manor house in East Sussex, her parents active in the local Tory party. After Benenden school, she embraced politics at Bristol University.

"She talks fast, she's bright and she doesn't mince her words," says one observer. "She's Margaret Thatcher reincarnated," says another, "a Tory MP's wet dream." A friend says: "... Rachel was very quickly headhunted to become Virginia Bottomley's special adviser and Steve became indispensable to Peter Lilley."

"Hyperactive" is how another describes Hilton. "Rachel was more ballsy, but both of them were so confident." For the 1992 election Hilton (at 22) was made chief liaison with the party's advertising agency. "He was in charge of explaining policy to Saatchi & Saatchi. Maurice (Saatchi) thought so highly of him that he hired him after the election." The Tory peer would later say, "No one reminds me as much of me when young as Steve."

Although Whetstone spent the mid-1990s as an adviser to Michael Howard, then home secretary (as well as being linked to Tory MP David Faber around the time of his divorce), both she and Hilton chose to further their careers in the corporate sector. Hilton moved from Saatchi & Saatchi to M&C Saatchi, including a stint advising Boris Yeltsin in the Russian elections. Later he gave Tony Blair demon eyes for the "New Labour, new danger" campaign in 1997, before setting up his own company, Good Business, to advise multinationals on ethical practice.

...After stints at One2One and Portland PR, Whetstone was persuaded back to Westminster in 2003 by Howard. Several months later, gossip of an affair with a Tory grandee became uncomfortably loud. The man in question was Viscount Astor, a former government whip and opposition spokesman in the House of Lords. Disastrously, he was also Samantha Cameron's stepfather. Whetstone offered to resign, but was persuaded to stay on through the election.

Her relationship with Hilton solidified but when Howard lost at the polls and Cameron won the leadership her political career was as good as over. By helping Howard through an election she had made a lot of enemies. "Men have fragile egos and lots of people didn't take kindly to her," says a friend. The Camerons, naturally, no longer saw her socially. [3]

Affiliations

Connections

Notes

  1. Google Rachel Whetstone, accessed 3 April 2009
  2. The Evening Standard (London) October 3, 2006 Tuesday Enigmatic Svengali who took young Tory from rank outsider to contender for No10; Known as 'Dave's Brain' or 'the Guru' by Tory MPs, Steve Hilton is David Cameron the low-profile Director of Strategy could get the Tories back into power, writes Paul Waugh SECTION: A MERGE; Pg. 8
  3. Giles Hattersley, 'Power couple behind the new Tory throne', The Sunday Times, 26 March 2006; p.9.