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Rod Liddle

On Nobel Prize winners and Mastermind losers

19 January 2019

9:00 AM

19 January 2019

9:00 AM

I once worked my way through two whole books of IQ tests devised by Hans Eysenck and by the time I had finished I was much cleverer than that self-publicising ass Einstein, according to the helpful chart, and quite possibly the cleverest person ever to have walked on the face of the earth. So I came to two conclusions. First, that — as I had long suspected — I was indeed the clever-est person ever to walk the earth and it was pleasant to have this suspicion of mine validated. And second, that one can learn to excel at IQ tests, despite the insistence from their promulgators that they are pristine and unrelated to culture or education: my score had risen by about 25 per cent by the time I threw the books away. In other words, they assess only a person’s ability to do IQ tests and are not remotely a test of raw intelligence, which in any case comes in many forms. Also, given that my two conclusions are contradictory and I continue to believe both of them entirely, I might not be quite as clever as I often think.

James Watson, the Nobel-winning scientist and pioneer of DNA research, seems to believe in the tests and this behoves him to a rather baleful position regarding the intelligence of black people. But given the tests are self-evidently flawed and contain a cultural bias, one might as well discount them.

Still, Watson, now 90, has been stripped of pretty much everything, simply for being wrong about one single thing. For cleaving to a political heresy. He has even had to sell off his Nobel Prize medal, so shunned is he by the world. This seems to me unjust, if unsurprising today. But I am also puzzled as to why a clever man such as Watson — and given his Nobel Prize he is probably not that far behind me in his mental brilliance — should have come to such a mistaken conclusion. And then it dawned on me. Watson must, at some time, have come across the Labour MP David Lammy and become so awestruck by his all–consuming dimness that he immediately ascribed his mental facilities to all black people everywhere. I can think of no other explanation, and it is a terrible mistake to make.


Lammy’s dimness is truly the stuff of legend. This is the man who in coming bottom on Mastermind attested that the Nobel Prize winner for Physics in 1903 was Marie Antoinette (having been given ‘Marie’ as a clue), that the great big prison in the middle of Paris was called ‘Versailles’, that Henry VII somehow succeeded Henry VIII, and that the Rose Revolution of 2003 which overthrew Eduard Shevardnadze occurred in ‘Yugoslavia’, a country which effectively ceased to exist in 1992. A man who claims he was raised in a family dependent upon tax credits, which were actually introduced when David was a strapping 31-year-old. And a man who denounced the BBC for wondering what colour smoke would be emanating from the Vatican as the cardinals met to choose their next Pope. Oh, and who chaired a damaging and deeply flawed investigation into, among other things, the police’s stop and search policy in London, describing the policy as raaaccissst, when it was about the only weapon left to combat young black kids killing each other.

His latest contribution to the great debate was to become outraged by an article I had written suggesting that single parenting and the absence of fathers might be partly responsible for the epidemic of stabbing and murders among London’s black youngsters. Lammy said I was the ‘personification and definition of white middle-class privilege’ and a ‘national disgrace’. Of course, it is not necessarily moronic to disagree with something I’ve written, although obviously I would counsel you against it. But it definitely is if you yourself have said and written exactly the same thing, repeatedly — as David indeed has. And with some passion. Here we have one instance, from 3 October 2012, as reported by the BBC: ‘A London MP has suggested that absent fathers are a key cause of knife crime. Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy said most young people who have stabbed someone to death come from single parent families.’ Hell, Lammy, did you not have the wit to realise that your previous statements on this business would be unearthed and gleefully posted on social media sites? As indeed they were, within the minute. You have to be a bit of a dimbo to do that, don’t you?

I suppose I should baulk a little at being called the personification of white middle-class privilege, too, given that I was brought up by working-class parents in Middlesbrough and attended the local comp. David went to Harvard. I am not entirely sure how he got into Harvard, given that his first degree was from a university ranked 46th in the UK. He was championed as the first British black kid to attend Harvard Law School, so you have to admire his tenacity against, given his academic abilities, all the odds.

Once, incidentally, when he was a minister during Labour’s last administration, he suggested that the British government should write letters to all black British people apologising for slavery. This would have meant David writing a letter to himself, of course. Still, it would save on a stamp, I suppose.

He probably has the Momentum hordes on his back in his constituency, in fairness, which might explain his recent shift from being a sensible, if intellectually challenged, Labour moderate into someone apt to scream raaaccisst at the slightest whiff of smoke from the Vatican. None of this, though, excuses the beleaguered and traduced James Watson for assuming that all black people are as thick as David Lammy, a man who makes Karen Bradley resemble… oh, who was that Nobel-winning scientist? Yeah, Marie Antoinette. That’s the one.

Spectator.co.uk/Rodliddle
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