The Daily Mirror this week put us all in its debt by publishing a list of the 100 least influential people in Britain. Many of us are tired of those lists of the 100 richest, or most influential, or most powerful.
So many of them are people of whom we have never heard. Those responsible for what we see on television are especially hard to remember, but fascinate the compilers of the lists. ‘Liz Rating: poached from ITV’s Channel Smut to be honcho of BBC heavy entertainment. Inventor of capital television. Thanks to her, televised capital punishment is now mass viewing all over the world. Thought of as the next Dawn Airey.’
The 100 richest in the country, or the 100 most powerful in the City, are even harder to recognise or recall. They have usually done something like selling their hedge-fund boutique at the top of the market for an estimated half-billion to Wall Street giant Simon and Garfunkel. It is not explained why that made them influential or powerful, but if they are on a list solely of the rich, it does explain why they are rich, though never why they are interesting. But the Mirror list was not at all like that. Whoever thought of it was something of a journalistic genius, or at least a genius at the compiling of lists. For, unlike in the case of those other lists, everyone on it was someone of whom most people would have heard. For this rating of the least influential was of people who thought that they were influential, or whom other people thought influential.
I thought the only unfair ratings were numbers one and 16. Number one was Jack Straw. Unfair because, though I have never met him and may therefore be wrong, he has always seemed to be a rather unassuming apparatchik, in so far as anyone who goes into politics can be unassuming.