21 SEPTEMBER 1956, Page 31

The Brains Trust

THE first three were never in doubt. From the moment that the counting began, Sir Winston went into the lead, with Lord Russell a close, but never dangerous, second; and Gilbert Murray a distant third. All three were far ahead of the other starters: competition was intense only for fourth place. A geeat number of com- petitors listed Churchill, Russell and Murray : the last two names were undecided almost until the count was com- plete. Only one competitor, 1. B. Allan, guessed all five; he even had them in the right order, except that he put Julian Huxley above T. S. Eliot. For this he will receive four guineas. The competitors who guessed the first four (Mary Pechey, R. T. Winton, Lettice Miller, Morwyth Rees) will have half a guinea each. It is only fair to add that Professor Huxley came into the first five by the narrowest of margins, after a recount, from Sir John Cockcroft; and that Sir William Penney, Dr. Bronowski, G. M. Trevelyan and Arnold Toynbee were close behind.

The final placings were: Sir Winston Churchill .. 365 Lord Russell .. .. 307 Competitors were asked to list the five best brains in Britain.

Gilbert Murray 147 T. S. Eliot .. .. 69 Julian Huxley61

All these, except Mr. Eliot, • had been among those who had featured in the Spectator competition twenty-six years ago. The only other two distinguished Britons who were in the lists then did less well today : Professor Haldane's vote sank from 23 to 18; and I am sorry to say that support for the Poet Laureate vanished completely.

Politicians, apart from Sir Winston and Lord Samuel, did badly. The most popular of them were Hugh Gaitskell and Sir Hartley Shawcross, with 16 apiece—one more than Aneurin Bevan. Of Conserva- tives Lord Hailsham came out best with 14, a happy augury for his new duties: R. A. Butler secured a round dozen and the Prime Minister only 11.

Churchmen, surprisingly, did even worse; the Archbishop of Canterbury, with 13, narrowly defeated Monsignor Ronnie Knox, with 12. But at least they did better than authors, who put up a very poor show- ing, apart from C. S. Lewis, who scored 20. Graham Greene, Sir Harold Nicolson, Aldous Huxley, J. B. Priestley and Edith Sitwell could only muster that number. of votes between them. It was curious how many authors received one, but only one, nomination:' Agatha Christie, G. D. H. Cole, E. M. Forster, Christopher Fry, Rose Macaulay, Somerset Maugham, Beverley Nichols, Rebecca West.

I am sorry to say, though, that the insti- tution which came worst out of the affair appears to have been the press. Three journalists managed to get one vote each : Hannen Swaffer, Lord Beaverbrook (not, incidentally, his own vote), and Donald Soper. Nobody else from EC4—not even Oliver Edwards—could obtain a single supporter.