It’s not always easy defending capitalism. While I’m a believer in the benefits of open markets and competition, and a fully signed-up Burkean ideologically attuned to avoiding a violent Marxist revolution, sometimes there are moments when one’s beliefs are tested almost to breaking point. I had just such a moment when someone alerted me at the weekend to something called the Tatler List.
The Tatler List, if you have never seen it is a ranking of the 600 most important people in the UK. Let us concern ourselves only with the top 50 on the basis that life is too short, many of the truly most important people are buried far down the list, and consider the order in which these apparently toppermost people are ranked. I urge you, if you are not at risk from high blood pressure, to have a read through the top 100. Yesterday evening it almost turned me into a Marxist. I had to go re-read Hayek’s Road to Serfdom and pour a glass of wine to calm down.
The top five is… Princess Charlotte, Prince George, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke of Cambridge and the Queen.
Ok, five royals in the lead is classic Tatler territory if you like that sort of thing, even if Number 1 is less than year old. Then the list takes a very weird turn. The Manners family get three in the top 10.
Number 7: Lady Violet Manners. “The eldest child of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, glossy-haired Violet grew up at Belvoir Castle and now splits her time between there and her flat in Fulham. She is a model, ambassador for British Polo Day, and Conservative party activist.”
Number 8 is Lady Alice Manners, who is studying fashion journalism at the Conde Nast college, whatever that is.
Number 9 is Lady Eliza Manners. There’s a pattern emerging here.
Number 10 is Jilly Cooper. Number 11 is Jake Chapman (brother of Dino(?), apparently): “He is now married to model Rosemary Ferguson but apparently dated Kylie Minogue, with whom his dog shares a first name. His temper is a big as his imagination. Talks like an art-theory textbook and writes essays on his days off.” Writes essays on his days off…
There’s a smattering of Spencers. Boris Johnson makes it in at 18. William Hague is at 46, thanks to his connection with Angelina Jolie, just pipping Clare Balding at 47. At 48 is the Crown Princess of Greece and Denmark.
Now, it is perfectly possible that the team at Tatler sat around giggling, saying “let’s make this as random as possible” to garner publicity. The editors make clear that they will not divulge how exactly the rankings are decided, which is media code for “we went for lunch, cleared the afternoon and ended up at 2am in a club in Mayfair.”
But Tatler is playing with fire here. Jeremy Corbyn is Labour leader, the radical left is on the rampage and the economy is wobbling. If Corbyn pledged to nationalise Tatler, even I would have difficulty objecting.