This all-pervading quality of meritocracy is why it’s so disturbing to learn in Adrian Wooldridge’s superb new history of the subject, The Aristocracy of Talent, that we don’t really live in one at all. Or if we do, it is one that has been corrupted: Wooldridge prefers the term pluto-meritocracy... They would do well to read Wooldridge’s erudite, thoughtful and magnificently entertaining book. They will find many uncomfortable truths in it. Most alarming of which may be that for all their intellectual peacocking our elites cannot seriously claim any longer to represent the most brilliant members of society. “The engines of upward mobility have been silting up for decades,” Wooldridge writes. Merit risks once again becoming divorced from success.