Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Is Andrew Sabisky an example of ‘cancel culture’?

Dominic Cummings said he wanted to hire ‘weirdos’ and ‘misfits’ to improve Whitehall, but new adviser Andrew Sabisky (more on whether he’s actually an adviser shortly) isn’t so much a misfit in Westminster as he is a sore thumb, standing out for his views on eugenics, race and unplanned pregnancies. Today a No. 10 spokesperson refused 32 times to say whether Boris Johnson shares Sabisky’s views, and wouldn’t even comment on the conditions under which he had been employed.

Just to recap, Sabisky has suggested that the best way to avoid an ‘underclass’ is to legally enforce uptake of contraceptives, that black people naturally have a lower IQ than white people, and that ‘eugenics are about selecting “for” good things’. According to the FT’s Seb Payne, Sabisky is being employed not as a government special adviser but on contract as a forecaster on defence and other policy areas. Some MPs – including ministers – have said they won’t work with him or turn up to meetings with him, but No. 10 is not backing down. This is partly because Cummings and his allies don’t mind a fight with the media and MPs who they regard as being too in thrall to the kind of ‘Westminster bubble’ story that no real voter pays any attention to.

Some are also holding up the row about Sabisky’s appointment as an example of ‘cancel culture’, where freedom of speech is trampled by hordes baying for yet another resignation. There have certainly been grossly unfair instances of this in recent times: the sacking of the late Sir Roger Scruton (for comments taken out of context) being just one example. But this row raises an interesting question, which is whether deciding not to hire someone on the basis of their views on eugenics and race and so on is curtailing their freedom to offer these views on a number of platforms, as Sabisky did, or whether it’s just that you think those views mean they won’t do the job that you need them to do.

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Isabel Hardman
Written by
Isabel Hardman
Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

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