This comment from Matthew Parris is very revealing:
I was telling my colleague Danny Finkelstein about my new theory that the free market doesn't work properly when the real customers are those who commission a product rather than those who use it. It is, for example, businesses, not the householder, that choose the courier service that makes you stay in all day in case it calls...“Ah,” said Danny, “this conundrum is well known to economists. They call it the Principal-Agent Problem. There are whole chapters in textbooks about it.”
I felt as proud as Molière's Bourgeois Gentleman, enchanted to discover from an expert that quite spontaneously he had been speaking something called “prose” all his life.
Now, recall Matthew's career. From 1976 to 79 he working in the Conservative Research Department, and was then an MP for seven years. So he spent 10 years in a party that was supposedly espousing free market ideas, and yet he never had a conversation, or overheard one, about one of the basic issues in market economics.
How can this be? We can ignore the possibility that Matthew's stupid; his writings show him to be one of the smartest men in the dead tree industry. So, could it be instead that his Tory colleagues were just never really interested in market economics, and only talked about "free markets" as an ideological cover for what was really just class hatred and union bashing?