Will Hutton

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For other people named William Hutton, see William Hutton (disambiguation).
Will Hutton
Will Hutton.jpg
Will Hutton
Born (1950-05-21) 21 May 1950 (age 64)
Nationality British
Field Political economy
School or tradition
Keynesian economics
Alma mater University of Bristol, INSEAD
Influences John Maynard Keynes

William Nicolas Hutton (born 21 May 1950 in Woolwich) is a British political economist, writer, weekly newspaper columnist and former editor-in-chief for The Observer. He is currently Principal of Hertford College, Oxford and Chair of the Big Innovation Centre,[1] an initiative from The Work Foundation (formerly the Industrial Society), having been chief executive of The Work Foundation from 2000 to 2008. He is widely known for his advocacy of centre-left policies, criticisms of the neoliberal economic consensus, and his long association with key members and policies of the New Labour party.

Early life[edit]

Hutton began his education in Scotland. His father had worked at the Royal Ordnance factory (Royal Arsenal) in Woolwich. He went to Bishopton Primary School in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, then Paisley Grammar School when he was eight. His father moved to Bromley, then in Kent, and he went to Southborough Lane County Primary School in Petts Wood.[2]

Hutton studied at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School in Sidcup, where he was introduced to A level economics by a teacher, Garth Pinkney. He only got average marks at O-level, but enjoyed the sixth form more, studying geography, history and economics. He organised the school tennis team. After studying sociology and economics at the University of Bristol[3] gaining a BSocSc (2.1), he started his career as an equity salesman for a stock broker, before leaving to study for an MBA at INSEAD at Fontainebleau near Paris.


Hutton (right) with Vince Cable in 2013

He moved on to work in television and radio, spending ten years with the BBC, including working as economics correspondent for Newsnight from 1983 to 1988, where he replaced Peter Hobday.[4] He spent four years as editor-in-chief at The Observer and director of the Guardian National Newspapers before joining the Industrial Society, now known as The Work Foundation, as chief executive in 2000. In 2010 he was criticised for his handling of the Industrial Society by a number of publications including The Sunday Times and Private Eye, for having sold the company's "family jewels". As a result of Hutton's directorship the Work Foundation ceased to be financially viable and was sold to Lancaster University.[5]

[6] As well as a columnist, author and chief executive, he is a governor of London School of Economics, a visiting professor at the University of Manchester Business School and the University of Bristol, a visiting fellow at Mansfield College Oxford, a shareholder of Scott Trust Limited that owns the Guardian Media Group, rapporteur of the Kok Group and a member of the Design Council's Millennium Commission.[7]

In March 2011, he was appointed as Principal of Hertford College, Oxford,[8] taking up the post later in the year. He continues to be associated with the Work Foundation as chair-designate of a major new initiative on innovation. He sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.[9]

He is known by many [10] as The Godfather (of New Labour).

Political analysis[edit]

The analysis in his books is characterised by a support for the European Union and its potential, alongside a disdain for what he calls American conservatism – defined, among other factors, as a certain attitude to markets, property and the social contract. In 1992, he won the What The Papers Say award for Political Journalist of the Year.

Public life[edit]

In 2003 he was made an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of Bristol.


As an author, his best known and most influential works are The State We're In (an economic and political look at Britain in the 1990s from a social democratic point of view) and The World We're In (where he expanded his focus to the relationship between the United States and Europe, emphasising cultural and social differences between the two blocs and analysing the UK as sitting between the two).[11]

Hutton's book The Writing on the Wall was released in the UK in January 2007. The book examines Western concerns and responses to the rise of China and the emerging global division of labour, and argues that the Chinese economy is running up against a set of increasingly unsustainable contradictions that could have a damaging universal fallout. On 18 February 2007, Hutton was a featured guest in BBC's Have Your Say programme discussing the implications of China's growth.

His latest book, Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society, was published by Little, Brown.

Personal life[edit]

Hutton married in 1978 and lives near Woodstock in Oxfordshire. He has a son and two daughters. His wife, Jane Atkinson, is a director of a property development company called First Premise based in Richmond upon Thames, which she founded in 1987. He calls himself an agnostic.[12]

Internet video[edit]


Major works[edit]

Contributions to other books[edit]

  • Trust: From Socrates to Spin (2004) Kieron O'Hara, Will Hutton (introduction) ISBN 1-84046-531-X
  • Hutton, Will (1997). "The Scene Shifts, the Legacy Remains". In Goodman, Geoffrey (ed.). The State of the Nation: The Political Legacy of Aneurin Bevan. London: Gollancz. pp. 226–232. ISBN 0-575-06308-4. 


  1. ^ "Will Hutton". Big Innovation Centre. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Will Hutton, author and former newspaper editor The Independent, 18 June 2009
  3. ^ The NS Profile – Will Hutton New Statesman, 31 May 1999
  4. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/sep/29/market-forces-bbc-economics-stephanie-flanders
  5. ^ ^ "Will Hutton 'sold out' work charity". Sunday Times article by Jon Ungoed-Thomas 31 October 2010
  6. ^ TJ Online[dead link]
  7. ^ Our People – Will Hutton
  8. ^ Hertford College. "Hertford College | University of Oxford". Hertford.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  9. ^ "European Advisory Board". Princeton University Press. 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  10. ^ The State We're In - Will Hutton
  11. ^ 'Picking Teams', review of The World We're In in the Oxonian Review. Published 15 June 2003; Retrieved 10 Jan 2011.
  12. ^ "What is the proper place for religion in Britain's public life?," a discussion with Richard Dawkins, The Guardian (19 February 2012).

External links[edit]

Video clips[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Andrew Jaspan
Editor of The Observer
Succeeded by
Roger Alton
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Landers
Principal of Hertford College, Oxford