A deceptively complicated question is a lovely thing, and the one we ask in this week’s Tortoise File is a beauty: who is Sir Jim Ratcliffe?
Even the simple answer you might not find on the tip of your tongue, because Sir Jim, founder and chief executive of the petrochemical giant Ineos and one of the very richest men in the UK, is far from a household name. But it takes something more layered to do justice to the bewildering inconsistencies between Sir Jim’s public face and the private man.
Not for the first time, Brexit is the hinge in the story. Nothing in a long, discreet career before 2016 foretold what Sir Jim Ratcliffe would do afterwards – a wildly uncharacteristic burst of publicity, wrapping himself and his companies in the Union Jack, buying up and sponsoring Great British brands. But the more prominent Sir Jim Ratcliffe became, the less straightforward he seemed.
In the end, this becomes a story as much about us as him. Whom do we look up to in this country? Whom do we honour? Should the contribution to national life that we recognise with a knighthood include not just building a business in the UK but keeping it here, and paying its taxes here?
The whole thing is, as we say in today’s Slow Newscast, is a Very British Business.
The question of money also looms large in our ThinkIn programme this week. Tonight we’ll be trying to fathom Bitcoin, asking: Who is Satoshi Nakamoto and what has she or he created?
Tomorrow morning’s breakfast ThinkIn continues our series of conversations with the leaders of Britain’s most influential companies – Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, joins us at 8am.
The Open News meeting will run as normal on Tuesday lunchtime. Then, on Thursday, it’s the Future of Money Summit. We’ve given ourselves one day to get to grips with the end of cash, the case for wealth taxation, the future of financial regulation, and debt.
After all that, we’ll be ready for Creative Sensemaker Live on Friday lunchtime, all about social media as a cultural venue. Please do join us.
Editor & co-founder