Vince: Toby Young appointment “completely unsustainable”

Theresa May admitted today that she had been unaware of Toby Young’s appalling comments before his appointment to the board of the new Office for Students. The Guardian reports:

In her first public statement about Young’s appointment, the prime minister said she was not aware of Young’s history of making sexist and homophobic remarks when he got the job and that, if he were to use language like that again, he would be sacked.

But she signalled that she was happy for him to remain on the board of the new Office for Students, even though the opposition and the main teaching union, the National Education Union, have said his previous outbursts make him unsuitable for the post.his previous outbursts make him unsuitable for the post.

Theresa May stood by her new universities regulator, when she should be firing him – his appointment is completely unsustainable. This is a man who has a record of misogyny and backs eugenics, screening out people of supposedly low intelligence.

This shows bad judgement and, as the Prime Minister effectively admitted, a lack of due diligence. It seems all you need to survive is be a friend of Boris Johnson.

I wonder if there needs to be some sort of independent or parliamentary confirmation of public appointments such as these. There is too much unchecked power in the hands of Ministers in these matters.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Jan '18 - 1:20pm

    Sir Vince as usual, sensible, which is very difficult as he is not getting the rates of polling up , try as he does.

    A shambles , this pm and her chums.

  • John Marriott 7th Jan '18 - 1:27pm

    I have to say that, although not indulging in social media, I have nevertheless found Mr Young’s regular appearances on current affairs programmes somewhat irritating (his frequent hand movements remind me a bit of Trump’s, although the latter’s are, in comparison, somewhat more nuanced).

    Of course Mr Young’s appointment to the OfS should be rescinded. I gathered that he missed the opportunity to have another go at “the remoaners” on the Andrew Marr Show today as well as explaining the other matter. I wonder why?

    Yes, he may have founded a ‘Free Grammar School’, which, I believe, has had a new Head in every year of its four year existence. However, one cynic reckoned that was because he couldn’t afford to educate his four children privately. Hoisted by his own petard, hey?

  • I’m a bit concerned about the way this is going. Young seems like a quite dislikeable character, but the arguments being used against him seems rolled out in very odd priorities. Opposition from a union to someone’s appointment should not be a justification to remove someone from a regulator’s board. Also previous obnoxious comments seems a little weak as an argument, would we apply this universally if someone being appointed was a fantastic fir for the position? I’m not sure some who are deploying it would be that consistent.

    What bothers me with him is the weakness of the arguments for him being appointed. It appears that he was “in” with the right Tory gang and had a connection to education. What was the process and who was passed over, was he genuinely the best choice for the role?

    I could foresee circumstances where someone had great strengths and some severe drawbacks but we would look and make an on balance that the strengths they brought to a public appointment were worth the drawbacks.

    The issue should surely be that there is no compelling case why to have Young in the first place (I don’t consider ego maniac journalist/columnist to be a high qualification).

  • John Marriott 7th Jan '18 - 3:54pm

    Call me a prude if you like, Mr/Ms Psi, but do you really want someone who has said the things Mr Young has said online to have anything to do with education? Let that be a lesson to all you advocates of Twitter/Facebook et al. A leopard may be able to change its spots; but I for one expect a higher standard from anyone who reckons they deserve a rôle in public life!

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '18 - 5:56pm

    @John Marriott “do you really want someone who has said the things Mr Young has said online to have anything to do with education?”
    I would not, but Toby Young had plenty to do with schools on the Lib Dem’s watch in Coalition and he was no less odious then.
    Psi makes some very good points about the chosen lines of attack against Young. Many of us would object to any appointment of him to any role. In this case it is not so much his unpleasant character that is the problem, but the reasons why he was appointed (it smacks of cronyism) and the likelihood that more suitable candidates were rejected for this particular role.

  • Jayne mansfield 7th Jan '18 - 6:20pm

    @ Psi,
    Nazir Afzal applied for the role.

    I will leave you to check out his qualifications, and ponder how someone with Toby Young’s qualifications , and obvious lack of suitability, was given the role in the face of such known competition.

  • Of course, he helped set up some of the finest schools in London, but that is hardly as important as sending out an offensive tweet.

  • Andrew Melmoth 7th Jan '18 - 11:22pm

    The schools he helped set up were, like the vast majority of schools in England, rated merely as ‘good’ by ofsted. I wonder where you got the idea they are ‘some of the finest schools in London’.

  • Jayne mansfield 7th Jan '18 - 11:56pm

    – ad
    Or that Mr Young sent out ‘an offensive tweet’, singular ?

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