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.
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].
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.”
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:
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.
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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