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Toby Young is now a Tory crisis. Here’s how he became one

Toby Young’s appointment to the board of the Office for Students has been criticised by … well, by everybody who knows about it, really – apart from highly blinkered Tories [Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA].

If you haven’t seen my video blog on the crises afflicting the UK – thanks to our Conservative government – you should probably have a gander before you come back to this.

All done? Good.

So: How did Toby Young become a major issue for the Conservative government?

Well, perhaps it was because of this:

The Tories today appointed writer Toby Young, who complained about the ‘ghastly inclusivity’ of wheelchair ramps in schools, to the board of their new higher education watchdog.

The Office for Students (OfS) legally come into force today with a remit to hold regulate university vice chancellors’ pay and enforce ‘free speech’ on campus.

The appointment of Young, an outspoken right-wing writer, to the board of the regulator has sparked criticism.

In a column for the Spectator in 2012, Young wrote: “Inclusive. It’s one of those ghastly, politically correct words that has survived the demise of New Labour. Schools have got to be “inclusive” these days.

“That means wheelchair ramps, the complete works of Alice Walker in the school library (though no Mark Twain) and a Special Educational Needs Department that can cope with everything from Dyslexia to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.”

He went on to call on then-Education Secretary Michael Gove to bring back O-levels and repeal the Equality Act, because “any exam that isn’t “accessible” to a functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six will be judged to be “elitist” and therefore forbidden by [Harriet] Harman’s Law.”

University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said: “If this organisation was to have any credibility it needed a robust board looking out for students’ interests.

“Instead we have this announcement sneaked out at New Year with Tory cheerleader Toby Young dressed up as the voice of teachers and no proper representation from staff or students.”

Oh dear.

Then again, there’s this:

Fresh questions have been raised over the suitability of Toby Young to sit on the board of the new universities regulator after it emerged that the government exaggerated his qualifications.

Young acknowledged on Tuesday that the Department for Education’s (DfE) claim that he had held teaching posts at two of the world’s most illustrious institutions, Harvard and Cambridge, were not accurate.

“I taught undergrads at Harvard and Cambridge and was paid to do so but these weren’t academic ‘posts’ and I’ve never made that claim,” he told the Guardian.

Defending Young’s appointment to the newly set-up Office for Students (OfS) on Monday, the department told the Guardian that his “diverse experience includes posts” at the institutions.

That’s called lying. Government departments aren’t supposed to do that.

But what about the new regulator’s personality? Surely he must have admirable features, to have been appointed to the new organisation for students?

Apparently not. What do you make of this?

In a 2010 message Mr Young branded George Clooney “queer as a coot”, while he responded to a male user on another occasion with the retort, “F**k you, penis breath”

On another occasion, referring to a picture of himself with a woman, he quipped: “Actually, mate, I had my dick up her arse”.

Mr Young appears to have since deleted the messages along with other profane comments.

But an article that Mr Young published to his blog in 2004 remains online.

The piece, which Mr Young told PinkNews was “a humour piece written for a New York men’s magazine”, recalls an occasion on which Mr Young dressed up as a woman in a bid to get into bed with lesbians.

That’s pretty appalling. No wonder Mr Young’s appointment has been met with outrage.

Oh, but according to him, the issue is the fact that he is a Conservative! Check this out:

Writer Toby Young says his appointment to the board of a new higher education watchdog is being criticised largely because he is an “outspoken Tory”.

Mr Young, who co-founded the West London Free School in 2011 and runs the New School Network, is one of six new appointments to the regulator’s board.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “If this organisation was to have any credibility it needed a robust board looking out for students’ interests.

“Instead we have this announcement sneaked out at new year with Tory cheerleader Toby Young dressed up as the voice of teachers and no actual representation from staff or students.”

Labour MP David Lammy said on social media on Monday: “Is that Toby Young who said I was wrong to criticise Oxbridge for failing to improve access?

“The Toby Young who only got into Oxford University because his Dad rang the tutor up?

So what can we say about Toby Young? Owen Jones puts it in a nutshell in the following clip – and he’s right that it speaks volumes about the Conservative Party:

We’ll come to some of those objectionable tweets in a moment. Before we do, I wanted to remind you all of an important point: The Conservative government has recently endured humiliation because of the sexually inappropriate behaviour of some of its members – and not all of the people who have been named have yet accounted for the activities of which they have been accused. I’ll hand over to Rachael Swindon now:

Okay. In light of this, let’s look at the behaviour of the Conservative Government’s newest representative. First, there’s this:

Then there’s the following:

This tweet contains some we’ve seen already, but the reference to Danny Boyle’s daughter – who was not an adult at the time, is particularly grim:

The following tweeter started a thread on the subject of Toby’s tweets. Feel free to click on the tweet and read the lot:

https://twitter.com/SKZCartoons/status/948633691395383301

It was all looking rough for Mr Young – but then Boris Johnson, of all people, threw the weight of his questionable judgement behind the man who calls himself Toadmeister on Twitter. The man whose genius encouraged the Iranian legal system to add five years to the wrongful prison sentence of a British citizen, and who failed to secure her release after visiting the country, likewise failed to impress the home audience:

But does any of this have a bearing on Mr Young’s appointment to the Office for Students? Let’s see:

It seems that Mr Young does feel some responsibility for his behaviour; he has deleted around 50,000 of his tweets.

https://twitter.com/MattTurner4L/status/948602700865949696

Unfortunately for him, members of the tweeting public have saved the worst of his work, and want the Tory government to explain why a man who would make such statements deserves a government job.

For that matter, perhaps the government should be considering action against him?

If the government does nothing, the public will. Consider the following – will you add your name?

And I haven’t even mentioned Mr Young’s belief in eugenics – a stance last supported by the Nazis in German, if The Writer isn’t mistaken.


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Don’t believe the critics – Labour’s plans are good for Britain

What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.

The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.

You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.

So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.

So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.

They were:

Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.

Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.

Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs

By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.

By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.

Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).

Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.

So those are his six goals. But what’s this?

“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.

“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.

There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.

There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”

More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.

And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.

That makes six more goals! Double the value.

These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.

So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.

Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.

If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.

Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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