Is dangerous thinking about race and IQ at the heart of UK government?

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An outrageous, racist and outdated belief in the innate intellectual inferiority of black people periodically re-enters public debate, usually masquerading as a bold initiative at the forefront of science; challenging convention and thinking the unthinkable.

A 27-year-old called Andrew Sabisky provides the latest example. In a matter of days, this Downing Street aide joined, then quit, the UK government’s policy machine after a series of controversial past comments came to light. It is easy to misunderstand the significance of this. Sabisky’s view that black people are genetically pre-determined to be less intelligent than whites was widely attacked in the media and politics. Yet the evidence suggests that his thinking about the nature of intelligence may not be entirely out of step with those in power in the UK.

Like Sabisky, they may claim that a focus on past statements and actions is unfair: tweeting about his departure Sabisky blamed “selective quoting” and “media hysteria about my old stuff online”. But the record is all we have on these matters.

At a press briefing shortly before Sabisky’s departure, the prime minister’s deputy spokesman refused more than 30 times to state Boris Johnson’s views on eugenics and the supposed intellectual inferiority of black people. The press secretary repeatedly stated that “the PM’s views are well publicised and well documented”.