Andy McSmith's Diary: Beauty (and wealth) before age – and everything else

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge for topping the Tatler list of 'The People Who really Matter'

Many congratulations to Princess Charlotte of Cambridge for topping the Tatler list of “The People Who really Matter” published on 20 January – a truly outstanding achievement, particularly in one who is not yet nine months old. Being royal is not enough. The Prince of Wales is down in 204th place, his only solace being that the Duke of Edinburgh is 217th. What is necessary is to be very posh and photogenic, and the Princess scores on both counts.

Angela Merkel, by contrast, does not have the looks of a Tatler cover girl. Being merely the most powerful woman in the world, she just makes the top 150, one place below Andrew Marr. The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, avoids being last on the list: he is 612th out of 620. The 620th is Julian Assange, who does not get photographed much these days.

 A question of who is Right

The question that most intrigues Whitehall’s leading mandarins right now is who will take over as the Treasury’s most senior civil servant when the current Permanent Secretary, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, stands down in April.

The second secretary, John Kingman, was the official who handled the vast stake the government acquired in the nation’s banks during the 2008 crisis. He also has an in with the Financial Times, where he once worked. His predecessor, Tom Scholar, is now at the Cabinet Office, handling David Cameron’s efforts to wrest a new deal from the EU. 

One of these two is likely to be at George Osborne’s right-hand very soon, which will not do his career any harm if Osborne moves into 10 Downing Street when David Cameron moves out.

On song and on target

I see from Alastair Campbell’s reminiscences of the early 1990s in yesterday’s Guardian that when Peter Mandelson, the newly elected MP for Hartlepool, showed up at a match with a Hartlepool scarf “thrown Oxford-style over his shoulder”, the crowd began to sing “Who’s the wanker in the scarf?” 

It is perhaps the only occasion that the sight of Lord Mandelson inspired anyone to burst into song.

Lord’s insider knowledge

Lord Hanningfield has spoken in the House of Lords Chamber for the first time since he went to jail for fiddling his expenses. 

He used that experience to good effect by making a plea for better education in prisons, whose inmates, in his view, were “fairly intelligent” but suffered gaps in their general knowledge. “Someone imagined that every lord has a castle”, he said. “Because they asked me if they could borrow mine for a rave.”

Sadly, there was no word from Lord Taylor of Warwick, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, or Lord (Jeffrey) Archer who have all, like Lord Hanningfield, seen the inside of British jails, nor from the former Daily Telegraph owner, Lord Black of Crossharbour, who has inside knowledge of the US prison system.

A disgusting turn of events

The Morning Star, the small, stern daily that used to be the mouthpiece of the Communist Party and now roots for Jeremy Corbyn, caused some surprise when it ran an interview trailed with the headline “I dated disgusting Danczuk”. 

The “Danczuk” in question was Simon, the Labour MP for Rochdale, “disgusting” was a description of his political views, and the interviewee was Claire Hamilton, a Labour councillor he dated for three months. 

The piece provoked protests from readers that the Star was mimicking the sensationalism of the tabloids. Ben Chacko, the editor, has acknowledged the teaser may have been “inappropriate” but defended the interview. It would never have happened when the Star was funded by Moscow.