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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Thursday 24th July 2014

Do-gooders neglect their children. Just look at my dad (and me)

A few years ago, a family friend described my father as being a bit like Mrs Jellyby in Bleak House, by which he meant that he neglected his own family in favour of helping others. By way of proof, he cited the famous occasion when my father abandoned all of us on Christmas Day to spend time with some elderly widows in the local cemetery, pouring cups of tea into the graves of their dear departed husbands.

He had a point. My father wasn't a deadbeat dad in the conventional sense of the word, but he was a workaholic. The only time I can remember him playing football with me was on my birthday – a huge treat. The rest of the time he was either at work or ensconced in his office at the top of the house. As a result, I became reliant on other people’s dads, like Max Herman, whose son Lucas was in my class. He used to take us ice-skating every Saturday at the Michael Sobell Leisure Centre just off the Holloway Road. I remember thinking at the time that it was odd of Lucas’s dad to want to spend so much time with his son. I now realise that it was my father who was odd. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 24th July 2014

The Trojan Horse plot is an indictment of local education authorities, not academies

Plenty of critics of the Government's education reforms have latched on to the Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham as "proof" that granting schools more autonomy is dangerous. See this piece by Fiona Millar in the Guardian, for instance. The argument is that if you allow taxpayer-funded schools to break free of local authority control, it's inevitable that some of them will be taken over by extremists.

However, the report into the affair by Peter Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief, reveals that the Islamist plot to take over Birmingham schools dates back to before any of them became academies. The school at the centre of the plot, Park View, only converted to academy status last year and before that was run by the local education authority. As Clarke points out, the Islamist infiltration of Park View and other schools was brought to the attention of the local authority two years ago, when the schools were still Birmingham City Council's responsibility, and officers did nothing. According to Clarke, they decided not to intervene because they didn't want to risk upsetting the local Muslim population. (To read more, click here.)


Sunday 20th July 2014

Labour’s love of inherited privilege shows a lack of class

No wonder there was rejoicing on Labour’s front benches when Michael Gove was shuffled off to the Whips’ Office. The socialist firebrands were clearly worried that if Britain’s schools become any more more meritocratic they might not be able to pass on their own inherited privileges to their children.

It is one of the ironies of contemporary politics that the hereditary principle holds more sway in the Labour Party than it does in the Conservative Party. How else to explain the news that Emily Benn, the granddaughter of Tony Benn, has been selected as the Labour candidate in Croydon South? If she wins next year, she will be the fifth generation of her family to serve in the House of Commons. (To read more, click here.)


Wednesday 16th July 2014

Nicky Morgan should read this (plagiarised) letter – and then sack the headteacher who wrote it

A headteacher of a primary school in Lancashire has been widely praised on Twitter for a letter she sent home to children, with lots of people suggesting that the letter should be the first thing Nicky Morgan reads in her new capacity as the Secretary of State for Education. I agree with this sentiment. Nicky Morgan should read the letter. It will give her a good idea of just how much more work there is to do when it comes to improving England's state schools. (To read more, click here.)


Wednesday 16th July 2014

Has Michael Gove been eaten by the Blob?

Back in March, I wrote a blog post entitled "We cannot let Michael Gove be beaten by the Blob", and this morning it looks as though that's what has happened. Last Thursday, thousands of schools were closed as the National Union of Teachers organised a one-day strike in protest against the introduction of performance-related pay and changes to public sector pensions. In among the protesters, members of the Socialist Workers' Party could be seen holding up placards saying "Gove Out". Five days later, he's gone. On the face of it, that makes the NUT's one-day strike the most successful piece of industrial action in this Parliament.

Michael Gove was, without question, the most radical education secretary of the past 50 years. The problem he's always faced, from a political point of view, is that it will take decades before any of his reforms begin to bear fruit. As he said in a speech at last week's education reform summit: "In ten years’ time, children who started school back in September 2010 will be finishing compulsory education at the age of 18 – the first cohort since our reforms began." That means he hasn't been able to respond to his critics by pointing to the positive impact his policies have had, unlike George Osborne. That's a particular problem in education because there are so many groups with a vested interest in preserving the status quo. In effect, Gove has gone into battle with the most powerful forces in the educational establishment with nothing to defend himself with apart from his ready wit and his skills as a debater. (To read more, click here.)


Sunday 13th July 2014

If John Bercow were any taller he wouldn't be such a big deal

Unlike 99 per cent of my colleagues, I was quite touched by John Bercow’s comment about how fed up he is with jokes about his height. “Whereas nobody these days would regard it as acceptable to criticise someone on grounds of race or creed or disability or sexual orientation, somehow it seems to be acceptable to comment on someone’s height, or lack of it,” he said.

Okay, maybe taking the mickey out of someone for being short isn’t quite on the same level as, say, murdering them for being black or homosexual, but I think he has a point. I say this for two reasons. The first, obviously, is because I hope to become an MP one day and have a vested interest in sucking up to the Speaker. The second, though, is because I’m a bit of a short arse myself. (To read more, click here.)


Sunday 6th July 2014

Tristram Hunt refuses to condemn teachers' strikes

Tristram Hunt, Labour's shadow education secretary, refused to condemn next week's teachers' strikes on the Andrew Marr Show earlier today. Instead, he said that trades unions were an important part of "civil society" and, as such, their decisions should be respected. "I want all teachers in the schools, teaching their, teaching the young people, but, you know, we have independent trades unions in this country and that is an important part of civil society," he said.

I don't suppose that argument will cut much ice with parents next Thursday when tens of thousands of schools are forced to close as a result of the National Union of Teachers' day of action. Christine Blower, the NUT's General Secretary, claims the union's decision to strike is a "last resort", but that's hard to believe given the union's reputation as a hotbed of Left-wing activists. "Nowadays, references to strike action are spread through the NUT conference agenda like confetti, often on issues unconnected with pay and conditions," says Fred Jarvis, the NUT's ex-general secretary who has drawn attention to the Trotskyist infiltration of his old union. In a book published last week, he condemned the influence of the "ultra Left" on the NUT's executive, pointing out that Blower stood as a candidate for the London Socialist Alliance in 2000, a hard-Left sect controlled by the Socialist Workers' Party. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 3rd July 2014

It's official – private schools are a waste of money

A new study by the Social Market Foundation shows that children educated privately earn more than those educated at state schools – an average of £193,700 more between the ages of 26 and 42, to be precise. This has been reported almost everywhere as yet more evidence of the advantage conferred on children who attend private schools (see this article on BBC News, for instance.)

But buried within the detail of the study – as the Telegraph has noticed – is the fact that this premium falls to just £57,653 once family background and cognitive ability are taken into account. That is to say, if you take two children from identical backgrounds and with exactly the same level of intelligence and send one to a private school and the other to a state school, the one educated privately will earn £57,653 more between the ages of 26 and 42 than the one who went to a state school. That's an average pay difference of £3,600 a year, which is considerably less than the average private school fees – £12,153 for a day school and £27,600 for a boarding school. Even if you send your child to a day school for seven years, the cumulative cost will be £85,071.

So it's official. Educating your child at a private school is a waste of money – a colossal waste of money if you send them to a boarding school. Your child would be better off if you sent them to the local state school, invested the money you would have spent on school fees in low-risk bonds and handed them a lump sum at the age of 18. If you were thinking of sending them to Eton, they might even be able to afford the deposit on a flat in Shepherd's Bush. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 3rd July 2014

Forget about Cool Britannia parties. Tories aren't cool and never have been. We shouldn't care

The Times headline on Tuesday was rather cruel: “Stars turn down No 10 invitation.” This was a reference to the party the press dubbed “Cool Britannia II”, David Cameron’s attempt to recreate the glamour of Tony Blair’s star-studded Downing Street reception in 1997. “They wanted Daniel Craig and Benedict Cumberbatch,” said the Times. “They got Ronnie Corbett and Bruce Forsyth.”

To be fair, the guests also included Helena Bonham-Carter, Claudia Winkleman, Harvey Weinstein, Richard Curtis, Roger Daltrey, Eliza Doolittle and Kirstie Allsopp. But according to Fleet Street’s finest, who were milling about outside with their noses pressed up against the windows, it still compared unfavourably with Blair’s bash. “Seen bigger stars on ITV2 at 1.30am,” tweeted one embittered journalist.

There are several things to be said about this. (To read more, click here.)


Sunday 29th June 2014

Schools should be able to fine parents who take their children on holiday without permission

Michael Gove won't have welcomed the news this morning that a parent is mounting a legal challenge to new rules about taking children out of school during term time, but he couldn't have asked for a better opponent. The parent in question is an American investment banker whose children missed the first six days of spring term at their primary school because he took them to America. This was after the headteacher had explicitly told him not to do it. Admittedly, he wanted to take the children to America to attend their great-grandfather's memorial service, but is that a good excuse? If he felt it was essential to fly his children to America to attend the memorial service of such a distant relative, couldn't he have taken them out of school for a couple of days rather than six? (To read more, click here.)


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Twitter RT @spectator: Port Eliot: A festival of child neglect, says @toadmeister link  (18 hours ago)


In defence of free schools by Toby Young -
Right to sleep with children was a "civil liberty" supported by the NCCL by Andrew Gilligan -
Woody Allen allegations: Not so fast by Bob Weide -
That's it. If the BBC don't don't want me on I'm boycotting them by Dan Hodges -
Boris Johnson says Tristram Hunt should resign -
In defence of my sister by Dominic Lawson - Daily Mail
Data briefing: free schools by the numbers -
Malcolm Gladwell's books are books are analgesics for those who seek temporary relief from abiding anxiety by John Gray -
Bring back the National Liberal Party by Nick Boles -
The hypocrisy of Mehdi Hasan by Guido Fawkes -
Ed Miliband is a copper-bottomed loser by the New York Times -
I'm a proud Yid, even if I hate Spurs by Anshel Pfeffer -
Pro-BBC article in the Mail shock! - Daily Mail
Ed Miliband is no leader. He's a vulture by David Aaronovitch -
21 more middle class problems -
Intolerance of humanists who attack faith schools by Brendan O'Neill -
Glenn Greenwald's dishonesty by Louise Mensch -
Arrest of journalist's partner price worth paying for national security by Dan Hodges -
The 13 Most Guardian Headlines Ever -
Twitter troll hysteria is a classic moral panic by Brendan O'Neill -
MC Gove in da house by Michael Deacon -
The criminalisation of journalism by Mick Hume -
Michael Gove gives Sir Humphrey lessons in letter-writing by James Forsyth - Daily Mail
Why educationalists hate Michael Gove by Frank Furedi -
Ed Miliband is the new Neil Kinnock by Trevor Kavanagh -
Check my privilege? B****cks to that by Louise Mensch -
Wind farms are a waste of space by top climate scientist - Daily Mail
Profile of Nigel Farage by Edward Docx -
Win a Leveson love birds holiday in Santorini! -
Far-Left teachers hijacking protests against Gove -
Margaret Thatcher: The softer side by Andrew Roberts -
Margaret Thatcher: Warrior by Matthew Parris -
Margaret Thatcher: Punk savior by Niall Ferguson -
The truth about Hacked Off by Andrew Gilligan -
David Miliband was a morally corrupt profiteer by Peter Oborne -
Hard left credentials of Gove's "academic" critics by the Daily Mail - Daily Mail
Muslims infected by virus of anti-Semitism by Mehdi Hasan -
Britain's draconian new press regulations will stifle freedom of speech by the New York Times -
The politicians' revenge on the press by Quentin Letts - Daily Mail
The press is the last bastion of free thinking by Melanie Phillips - Daily Mail
May Day, May Day by Matthew Norman - The Independent
Mila Kunis interviewed by hapless Radio 1 DJ -
Postmodern Tories by Roger Scruton -
Profile of Michael Gove - Daily Mail
David Cameron is a man of principle among pygmies - Daily Mail
The mafia links of a former Hollywood mogul by Bryan Borrough - Vanity Fair
The Wired magazine article that inspired Argo by Joshuah Bearman -
Panic! The anatomy of a political crisis by Dan Hodges -
The British intelligentsia's libel against Israel by Melanie Phillips -
Review of Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Zöe Heller -
Is Esquire's interview with Megan Fox the worst piece ever written? by Jamie Lee Curtis Taite -
How Moore, Burchill and Featherstone all had a lovely bitch fight by Rod Liddle - The Spectator
Julie Burchill's censored article on the trans lobby -
The great aid mystery by Jonathan Foreman - The Spectator
How Les Mis taught me how to hate again by Matt Walsh -
Fairness is at the heart of Osborne's strategy by Matthew d'Ancona -
Jim Dowd MP v the Spectator by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
The Guardian has become the Vichy Evening News by Dan Hodges -
Spectator would defy new state regulator by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
The Leveson Inquiry is the Left's chance to avenge itself on the Right by Benedict Brogan -
Daily Mail investigation into the Leveson Inquiry - Daily Mail
The hight-minded, Left-wing paedo hunters by Frank Furedi -
Britain's press must remain free by Tim Luckhurst -
Obit of a legendary Labour whip by Nick Robinson -
Referring to students as "learners" is infantilizing by Denis Hayes
Toby Young for Prime Minister by Jake Wallis Simons -
Ed Miliband's house is worth £2.3m! - Daily Mail
The election that never was by Damian McBride -
JK Rowling despises everyone poorer than her by Charles Moore -
JK Rowling's new novel is boring, Left-wing agitprop by Jan Moir - Daily Mail
Getting rid of Cameron would be electoral suicide by Simon Heffer - Daily Mail
Naomi Wolf: Dotty and Dim by Zöe Heller -
Gove Levels - Daily Mail
The End of Men? by Hanna Rosin -
Posh-bashing is usually hypocritical balls by Hannah Betts - Guardian
Five conservative messages smuggled into Dark Knight Rises by John Boot -
Multiculturalism? Nonsense. The Olympics are a victory for patriotism and common British values by Dan Hannan - Daily Mail
Dissenters are cast out in the name of "inclusion" by Melanie Phillips - Daily Mail
Martin Durkin's dyspeptic view of the Olympics opening ceremony -
Batman: The ultimate conservative hero by Robert Colville -
Why the Tories need to grow a pair by Dan Hodges -
The day Gordon Brown came to power by Damian McBride -
Owen Jones *is* Justin Beiber by Dan Hodges -
Why Britain shouldn't be part of a European super-state by Charles Moore -
Fixing Britain's character flaws by Anthony Seldon -
The shame of Britain's public school elite by Matthew Norman -
In defence of Murdoch by John O'Sullivan -
In politics, you're either up or down by John Kampfner - The Independent
James Lovelock recants - Daily Mail
Let's give Polly Toynbee the Britain she wants by Tim Worstall -
Why Labour should support free schools by Andrew Adonis -
Free schools are breaking down barrier to decent education for all by Charles Moore -
Arrest of Sun journalists poses threat to press freedom -
The anti-academies campaign is led by Trots, says Michael Gove -
Lasagne-gate - Daily Mail
Profit need not be a dirty word in education by Fraser Nelson -
Osbornism by Matthew D'Ancona -
Can Michael Gove save Britain's schools? by Simon Heffer - Daily Mail
The Magnificent Victory at Cardinal Vaughan by Charles Moore -
Michael Gove and the nest of vipers by Ian Birrell - Daily Mail
Academies policy has been rapidly vindicated by Fraser Nelson - The Spectator
Mossbourne Academy's outstanding A-level results - Guardian
I blame therapy culture for the riots by Dennis Hayes -
Phone-hacking rage is Caliban raging at his own reflection by Dominic Lawson - The Independent
Why I'm a Conservative by Toby Young -
The Government must crack the teaching unions by His Grace -
"Ideological" is Labour's empty insult by Dominic Lawson - The Independent
There is an alternative to the cuts – deeper and faster cuts -
Leader of UK Uncut is middle class Oxford graduate - Daily Mail
Stephen Glover on the real magnitude of the cuts: Just 3% in real terms in the lifetime of this Parliament - Daily Mail
Peter Sissons dissects the BBC's leftwing bias - Daily Mail
Student protester privately-educated Cambridge undergraduate with father worth £78m - Daily Mail
Ed Balls gave £600,000 of taxpayers' money to the football team he supports - Daily Mail
Dominic Sandbrook on the rise of the Political Class - Daily Mail
Interview with Toby Young in Attain magazine -
Topic of Cancer by Christopher Hitchens - Vanity Fair
The perils of being a freelance journalist by Richard Morgan -
Profile of David Cameron by Matthew D'Ancona -


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