Umm, Willy?

It was a Monday evening in early 2004 when a group of Europhiles and Europhobes gathered for a Buckingham Palace dinner at the Duke of Edinburgh’s invitation. We were there to discuss the proposed treaty for a European constitution, just written and whose ratification across Europe was about to begin. I had been one of 12 European “thinkers” who had made joint recommendations on what European values should be in its preamble, hence my presence. What followed was one of the most surreal evenings of my life, brought to mind by the three German princes the Duke of Edinburgh insisted should attend yesterday’s funeral.

I’m Willy the Hutton I am, I am. See how the mighty seek my views.

Three of the Europhobe contingent then joined him, banging the table and shouting “No to Europe” with such force that the red-jacketed butlers stood back from serving – even the duke looked nonplussed.

Do even the Royals have multiple butlers? Serving at table, in red?

Waiters possibly, footmen even, but butlers?

Or does Willy not know the difference despite his being so sought in the corridors of power? Or perhaps it’s me?

20 thoughts on “Umm, Willy?”

  1. Ah. The Great & The Good discussing your fate over a sumptuous dinner. It must be so reassuring for you.

  2. Coincidentally an HB member was telling me about a good speech made by the Duke on Euro matters- i looked in vain last night on utub too hard going wading through all the funeral stuff.

  3. Hutton gives it away. It is a religion

    Nobody argued for leaving the EU – it was obvious economically we had to stay. The argument was to what degree the EU was becoming a quasi-state and how much Britain should stand aside.

    However, Wolfgang Münchau makes some interesting points https://www.eurointelligence.com/column/brexit-revisited

    The economic models were captured by the politicians. Also, he is very dismissive of theories of trade – including the sacred gravity theory – saying that they are tied to physical goods and have no validity in a world where services and information are more valuable

  4. Isn’t it a pity we don’t still have music hall? I can see myself, standing at the back, mug in hand, as an actor prances about on stage, powdered and periwigged, proclaiming himself a great European stinker while the doxies throw apple cores and some commie calls out “What abart the workahs?”

    I think this lockdown is getting to me.

  5. The gravity model works fine. As long as it is used as it was designed and proven. It is economic distance we must talk about, not geographic. Geographic distance is only a proxy for economic. Once we get that right then all makes sense – as with services, digital and so on.

    For example, given the internet, there’s a lot more TV/music/videogame traffic across the 3,000 miles of the Atlantic between two countries that speak roughly the same language than there is between the UK and France over 26 miles….

  6. A household of sufficient size to require a Butler has but a single one, but he would never serve at table. That would be the job of the footmen.

  7. ” Philip was right – we British are mongrels and we belong in Europe.”

    More specifically British people are European ‘mongrels’ descended, like all other Europeans, from the Yamnaya invaders of between 4k – 5k years ago and the Western Hunter-Gatherers who inhabited Europe before them. What we are not is African, Asian, Arab or Jewish.

  8. Sadly he’s not self aware enough to have used those inverted commas around ‘thinker’ in the appropriate way.

  9. Only very quietly does Will concede that the proposed treaty was a disaster to the extent that the French voted “Non”.
    “Sir John Kerr wrote it” – all of it? Was there no continental co-author? When did the rest of the EEC decide to waive their sovereignty in favour of accepting direction from London? I have been watching politics since the EEC was founded (let alone our joining) and I cannot recall a single instance.

  10. John77 I seem to recall that Giscard d’Estaing was in charge of the constitution project. Kerr must have been the UK rep

  11. we belong in Europe And we remain in it. Brexit untethered us from the EU, not the continent. You’d think on of Europe’s great thinkers would realise this.

  12. turning to Sir John Kerr next to him, who had been secretary-general of the European convention that had drafted the treaty.

    In Spain, he’s known as Sir Juan.

    Nobody argued for leaving the EU – it was obvious economically we had to stay. The argument was to what degree the EU was becoming a quasi-state and how much Britain should stand aside.

    Surprise, cockfags!

    The agreement morphed into the Lisbon treaty but the seeds of disaster had been sown. If there could be a referendum on the constitutional treaty, why not on a renegotiated relationship with the EU?

    The disaster of allowing the proles a say.

    Looking back, what Prince Philip was doing at that dinner was assuring himself that the royal family would not fall victim to an excess of federalist zeal. I think he ended up assured. The current Conservative party could do with some of the royal family’s brand of conservatism

    So they should allow themselves to become an increasingly useless ornament while all the important decisions are taken elsewhere, consoled by the fact that at least they still have nice banquets to enjoy?

    Nah.

  13. @Steve

    ‘So they should allow themselves to become an increasingly useless ornament while all the important decisions are taken elsewhere, consoled by the fact that at least they still have nice banquets to enjoy?’

    That does seem to be what has basically happened, albeit in another context.

  14. @ Diogenes
    Thanks, I had forgotten that detail. Mildly ironic that a project led by a French ex-president should be blocked by French voters.

  15. Münchau writes “A third group, largely economists, got it wrong because they relied on bad models.” Just like the epidemiologists, eh?

    He adds: “The forecasts of unmitigated gloom, however, have been wrong and deceitful. When economists failed to predict the global financial crisis, they did not so out of malice or political bias. But their Brexit forecasts were not an innocent mistake – nor will they be remembered as such.”

    How much of that is true of the epidemiologists? I do wonder. What are the politics of, for instance, the Astrologer Royal at Imperial College?

  16. As far as I’m aware we are remaining geographically in Europe. I haven’t read Hutton in a few years. His basic argument is always the same. Democracy gives bad outcomes unless real power resides with unelected bureacracies that will steer the ship in the correct direction (i.e in line with Guardian reader preferences). I wonder what his take was on the metaphorical declaration of war by the EU against Northern Ireland over vaccines?

  17. How does one become a “thinker”?
    Does it pay well? Do you have to attend a “thinkers” school before attaining full “thinker” status ?
    I “think” I might like to become one.
    I think.

  18. Dennis, Hunting Tigers Out In India... Ya!

    How does one become a “thinker”?

    Willy Hutton would be one of the last to know.

  19. The point of royalty is the breeding. Otherwise they are just random posh people. If they don’t invite other royalty to shindigs then they lose what remaining shreds of history that still remain.

    I invited my aunt to my wedding and I couldn’t stand her. It’s what you do.

    Hutton is so wrapped up in politics that he forgets it is a side issue for most people. Family come first.

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