Will Hutton

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Will Hutton
Will Hutton.jpg
Hutton in 2008
William Nicolas Hutton

(1950-05-21) 21 May 1950 (age 73)
Woolwich, London, England, UK
Alma materUniversity of Bristol, INSEAD

William Nicolas Hutton (born 21 May 1950) is a British journalist. As of 2022, he writes a regular column for The Observer, co-chairs the Purposeful Company, and is the president-designate of the Academy of Social Sciences. He is the chair of the advisory board of the UK National Youth Corps. He was principal of Hertford College, University of Oxford from 2011 to 2020, and co-founder 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 was formerly editor-in-chief for The Observer.

Early life[edit]

Although born in Woolwich, where his father had worked at the Royal Ordnance factory (Royal Arsenal), Hutton began his education in Scotland. He went to Bishopton Primary School in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, then Paisley Grammar School when he was eight. His father moved to Bromley, then to Kent, and he attended 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 also 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 brokerage firm, before leaving to study for an MBA at INSEAD at Fontainebleau near Paris.[citation needed]


Hutton (right) with Vince Cable in 2013

Hutton moved on to work in television and radio. He spent 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 used the company for campaigning purposes rather than focusing on it as a business enterprise. Under Hutton's management, The Work Foundation became insolvent and was wound up. It was then sold to Lancaster University.[5]

As well as a columnist, author, and chief executive, Hutton is a governor of the 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 the Scott Trust Limited, which owns the Guardian Media Group, rapporteur of the Kok Group, and a member of the Design Council's Millennium Commission.[6] In March 2011, he was appointed as Principal of Hertford College, Oxford,[7] taking up the post later in the year and retiring in 2020.[8] He sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.[9]


As an author, Hutton's 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, in which he expands his focus to include 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.[10] Hutton argues in The World We're In that many viewpoints in this book are neo-Keynesean and that it is critical of short-termism, viewing stakeholder capitalism as an alternative.[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 on BBC's Have Your Say programme, discussing the implications of China's growth. 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. In 2003, he was made an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of Bristol.

In 2010, he published Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society.

His latest book, How Good We Can Be: Ending the Mercenary Society and Building a Great Country, saw publication in 2015.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Hutton married Jane Atkinson, the daughter of a neurosurgeon, in 1978, and lives in London. They have two daughters and a son. His wife, who died in 2016, was a director of a property development company called First Premise, based in Richmond upon Thames, which she founded in 1987. Hutton calls himself an agnostic.[12]


Major works[edit]

  • How Good We Can Be: Ending the Mercenary Society and Building a Great Country (2015) ISBN 978-1408705315
  • Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society (2010) ISBN 978-1-4087-0151-5
  • The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century (2007) ISBN 978-0-316-73018-1
  • A Declaration of Interdependence: Why America Should Join the World (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003) ISBN 0-393-05725-9
  • The World We're In (2002) ISBN 0-316-85871-4
  • Global Capitalism (2000) Will Hutton (editor), Anthony Giddens (editor) ISBN 1-56584-648-6
  • On the Edge: Essays on a Runaway World (2000) Anthony Giddens (editor), Will Hutton (editor) ISBN 0-224-05937-8
  • The Stakeholding Society: Writings on Politics and Economics (1998) ISBN 0-7456-2078-7
  • The State to Come (1997) ISBN 0-09-977881-5
  • The State We're In: Why Britain Is in Crisis and How to Overcome It (1995) ISBN 0-224-03688-2
  • The Revolution That Never Was: An Assessment of Keynesian Economics (1986) ISBN 0-582-29603-X

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.

Awards and honours[edit]


  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. ^ Preston, Peter (28 September 2013). "Market forces sweep into the BBC – and buy its best economics brains" – via www.theguardian.com.
  5. ^ Ungoed-Thomas, Jon (31 October 2010). "Will Hutton 'sold out' work charity". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Work Foundation". www.lancaster.ac.uk.
  7. ^ "Hertford College | University of Oxford". Hertford College, Oxford. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Introducing our new Principal: Tom Fletcher CMG". Hertford College, Oxford. 1 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  9. ^ "European Advisory Board". Princeton University Press. 7 July 2011. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  10. ^ 'Picking Teams', review of The World We're In in the Oxonian Review. Published 15 June 2003; Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  11. ^ Warner, Malcolm (March 1997). "Book Review: The State we're in". Journal of General Management. 22 (3): 92–94. doi:10.1177/030630709702200307. ISSN 0306-3070. S2CID 220067874.
  12. ^ "What is the proper place for religion in Britain's public life?," a discussion with Richard Dawkins, The Guardian (19 February 2012).
  13. ^ Lynne Williams (26 January 1996). "Honorary degrees". Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  14. ^ Staffordshire University. "Recipients of Honorary Awards". Staffordshire University. Archived from the original on 30 December 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  15. ^ University of Bristol press release (25 June 2003). "Honorary degrees at Bristol". University of Bristol. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  16. ^ heraldscotland (26 November 2003). "Graduations at Glasgow Caledonian University". heraldscotland. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  17. ^ University of East Angelia. "Honorary Graduates of the University" (PDF). University of East Anglia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  18. ^ University of Middlesex (18 July 2011). "Will Hutton receives honorary dotorate for inspiring future business stars". Middlesex University. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  19. ^ University of Central Lancashire (2015). "Honorary Fellows". University of Central Lancashire. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  20. ^ University of Greenwich Public Relations (26 July 2013). "Will Hutton receives honorary degree". University of Greenwich. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  21. ^ York St John University (2015). "Honorary graduates". York St John University. Retrieved 31 August 2015.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Editor of The Observer
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Principal of Hertford College, Oxford
Succeeded by