Toby Young Toby Young

Stupid is as stupid votes | 21 May 2017

John Stuart Mill is usually credited as the person who first called the Conservatives ‘the stupid party’, but that isn’t quite accurate. Rather, he referred to the Tories as the stupidest party, and he didn’t mean that it was more stupid than every other party in the country, just the Liberals. If you substitute the Lib Dems for the Liberal party, that probably isn’t true any more, and it certainly isn’t true if you include Labour in the mix. No, I think there is now a strong case for passing the crown to Jeremy Corbyn’s party.

If you look at Labour’s leaders, this is a very recent development. Harold Wilson was the most brilliant prime minister of the 20th century, having got the highest First in his year in PPE. Roy Jenkins, who served as his Home Secretary, thought that, academically, he was up there with Peel, Gladstone and Asquith. Admittedly, Neil Kinnock was no brainbox, but he was an aberration in an other-wise impressive line of clever clogs, from Keir Hardy to Ed Miliband. It’s only in the last two years that Labour has fallen off a cliff. In terms of IQ, Jeremy Corbyn’s must be at least two standard deviations lower than his immediate predecessor, and Diane Abbott and John McDonnell are scarcely frontbench material. To my mind, this has been the most striking feature of the general election campaign so far — the lack of intellectual candlepower in Labour’s top team.

But if you look at Labour’s voters, this phenomenon goes back much further. As far as I know, the first serious study of the link between intelligence and voting preferences was done in 2008 by a group of academics at the Medical Research Council led by the eminent Scottish psychologist Ian Deary.

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