The Tories are happy to overlook and ignore misogyny, homophobia and other bigotry when defending their friends and political allies.
Former Sun journalist and Toby Young has resigned from his appointment to the government’s Office for Students after massive public outrage.
Young stepped down amid a public backlash over offensive comments he’d made in the past about gay men, women’s breasts and disabled children.
Young tweeted during prime minister’s questions in 2012: “Serious cleavage behind @Ed_Miliband’s head. Anyone know who it belongs to?”
Other comments over the years included calling state school students at Oxford and Cambridge “stains” and calling children with learning difficulties “illiterate troglodytes”.
In a blow for Theresa May, who publicly defended him on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Young stood down this morning – having been in the post just eight days – saying it had “become a distraction”.
Young wrote in the Spectator “Some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.”
A petition to the Prime Minister calling for Young to be dismissed reached just under 220,000 signatures at the time of his departure.
Young’s resignation comes right in the middle of the PM’s reshuffle, which a spokesperson promised would be “an opportunity to refresh the government and to give an added impetus to the prime minister’s reform agenda”.
Instead, public opinion is focused on how the PM was willing to defend a serial misogynist and bigot in the face of massive public opposition.
The PM and senior colleagues defended Young’s appointment right up until the last minute. Here’s how the Tories tried to defend his behaviour:
The PM said on Sunday:
““Toby Young has done exceedingly good work in relation to free schools and that’s what led to him being appointed to the Office for Students.”
The foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a long-term friend of Young, said last week:
“Ridiculous outcry over Toby Young. He will bring independence, rigour and caustic wit. Ideal man for job.”
His brother universities minister Jo Johnson told the House of Commons yesterday:
“We want to encourage Mr Young to develop the best sides of his personality. The opposition would have us believe [Young] is not qualified or suitable to be on the board.”
We mustn’t forget this willingness of the Tories to overlook and ignore misogyny, homophobia and other bigotry when defending their friends and political allies. So much for Theresa May’s “reform agenda” — it’s the same old Nasty Party.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.