The Third Leader: New Labour, new landowner

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The Independent Online

Some will doubtless seek to make ironic capital out of the resurgence of the long-dormant handbook in a land ruled by New Labour. They should know that Mr John Prescott wanted nothing to do with any entry, although they put him in anyway.

But stay, I hear you muse, John Prescott: landed gentry? Well, he does have that castellated pile in Hull; nevertheless, you're right: many entries are those of "contemporary people of distinction", which explains the inclusion of Liz Dawn from Coronation Street.

Burke's makes its selection on advice from leading figures in various fields. Which is all very well, but certainty is crucial. Rules are required. Out of a sense of duty, then, I suggest the following checklist which helpfully updates the landed element while recognising the importance of celebrity:

1. Does the candidate possess at least one 4x4, labrador, ride-on mower and beetle-shaped Wellington remover? 2. Decks are unacceptable unless accompanied by a hot tub and four patio heaters. 3. The absence of a gamekeeper will be compensated for by one personal trainer, two appearances in Hello!, a night nanny and an Aga. 4. Does the candidate know (two at least, please): Max Clifford, Monty Don, AS Byatt or anyone from Big Brother? 5. And finally, is he or she going to buy the book?

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