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Toby Young
Friday 15th September 2017

Care about the poor? Then why not recommend the values that serve you and your friends so well?


Last month, two law professors named Amy Wax and Larry Alexander published a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer praising ‘bourgeois’ values. They argued that many of the social problems afflicting the American working class, such as the opioid epidemic, are partly due to the decline of these values and that reviving them might go some way to help. They summarised them as follows: ‘Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighbourly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.’

That is a fairly uncontroversial set of precepts and it’s hard to deny that those who follow them are more likely to lead happy, productive lives. The authors pointed out that most successful Americans, including those academics, writers, artists, actors and journalists who preach the gospel of personal liberation, tend to live by these values themselves. They accused the chattering classes of hypocrisy: they espouse an anti–bourgeois, hedonistic philosophy in public, while practising fidelity, abstinence, hard work etc, in private. It’s do as I say, not as I do, which is odd because the liberal intelligentsia claim to care about the least well-off. If they want to help them, why not recommend the values that serve them and their middle-class friends so well? (To read more, click here.)

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Friday 15th September 2017

Today's Terrorist Attack




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Friday 8th September 2017

Farewell Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair magazine’s very own Becky Sharp


Graydon Carter will be delighted by the amount of coverage his departure from Vanity Fair has received. Having edited the magazine for 25 years, he is leaving at the age of 68. The New York Times has devoted the amount of space to the story it would normally give to a departing Secretary of State.

It would be inaccurate to describe Graydon as the last of his kind — Anna Wintour is still at the helm of Vogue — but there are unlikely to be many more magazine editors like him. He has homes in New York and Connecticut, part-owns two restaurants, hosts the most glamorous party in Los Angeles on the night of the Oscars and has succeeded in crossing the threshold from cynical chronicler of the world of celebrity excess to eager participant. (To read more, click here.)

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Friday 8th September 2017

Prince George should be at a state school


I don’t want to come across like Dave Spart, but I am a bit disappointed that William and Kate have decided to send George to a private school. Nothing against Thomas’s Battersea, which is part of a successful, for-profit chain, but there’s no reason to think he will get a better education there than he would at a good state primary.

One obvious choice would have been Kensington Primary Academy, the latest addition to the free school chain I co-founded in 2011. Admittedly, it hasn’t been inspected by Ofsted yet, but the other two primaries in the chain have both been rated Outstanding. He would have received a rigorous, knowledge-based education and could have walked there in 10 minutes instead of facing a daily school run of at least 30 minutes. (To read more, click here.)

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Friday 8th September 2017

My 12-year-old is hooked on shooting and I want all four kids to learn


I spent Monday morning being taught how to use a shotgun at E.J. Churchill, a shooting ground in High Wycombe. If you’re a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds you probably won’t approve, but it gets worse. I was with my friend Merlin Wright and we had taken our 12-year-old sons with us so that they could learn how to shoot, too. Needless to say, after they’d hit a few clays they were completely hooked and couldn’t wait to take aim at the real thing.

Merlin brought his own gun and is an experienced shot, but I’m a bit of a novice. Until two years ago I’d never been on a proper grouse shoot. Its appeal was immediate. I don’t just mean the sheer sport of trying to hit a low-flying bird travelling at high speed in a wiggly line (the avian equivalent of a North Korean missile). There’s also the beauty of the moorland when the heather is in full bloom, the springy feeling of the grass underfoot, the abundant wildlife. (To read more, click here.)

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Friday 8th September 2017

Spare me the encomiums for John Le Carré


In Absolute Friends, one of John le Carré’s lesser works, the central character explains his rebirth as a left-wing firebrand, radicalised by Britain’s support for America’s invasion of Iraq. ‘It’s the old man’s impatience coming on early,’ he says. ‘It’s anger at seeing the show come round again one too many times.’ This is followed by a rant about ‘the death of empire’, our ‘dismally ill-managed country’ and ‘the renegade hyperpower that thinks it can treat the rest of the world as its allotment’ (not Russia, obviously, but the United States).

I felt a similar spurt of rage on learning that Le Carré’s most famous show — the seedy world of British intelligence, or ‘the Circus’, as he calls it — is about to come round again. Later this month, the 85-year-old author will publish A Legacy of Spies, which revisits the events of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and resurrects several of his long defunct characters, including George Smiley. Once again, the reader will be plunged into the slightly smelly, morally ambiguous universe of the Cold War and its psychologically damaged protagonists. Once again, Le Carré’s fans will be able to tell themselves how sophisticated they are for rising above the good-vs-evil simplicities of inferior espionage novelists. Once again, they’ll give themselves permission to enjoy what is, essentially, an airport thriller by reassuring themselves that Le Carré is really a literary writer who ‘transcends’ the limits of genre fiction. (To read more, click here.)

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Friday 25th August 2017

This year's GCSE and A level results show that free schools are flourishing – they are Michael Gove’s legacy


The GCSE results for free schools this year, like the A level results, are exceptionally good. I've written three blog posts about this, one for the TES, one for the Spectator and one for CapX.

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Friday 25th August 2017

Ignore the half-wit experts – the new GCSE marking system is as easy as 1,2,3...




The amount of nonsense being talked about the new GCSEs in English and maths, whereby exams have been graded 9-1 rather than A-G, is astonishing. The new grading system is ‘gibberish’ and will cost young people jobs, according to the Institute of Directors. The NSPCC thinks greater differentiation at the top end, with 9 being worth more than A, will take a terrible toll on children’s mental health, while Mary Bousted, the General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, says the new system is ‘inherently ridiculous’. ‘To put 1 at the lowest and 9 at the top when the grades go alphabetically in a different order from A* to G just seems to put the icing on the cake,’ she says.

Let us take these points in reverse order. There are two reasons why 9 is the highest grade and 1 the lowest. First, in most other countries that use a numerical system, 1 is the lowest grade so to do the opposite would create confusion. Second, it makes it easier to add higher grades in the future — a 10, for instance. If Ofqual, the exam regulator, had made 1 the highest grade it would effectively be saying that the most brilliant students of tomorrow can never be better than the most brilliant students of today, which is obviously nonsense. (To read more, click here.)

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Friday 25th August 2017

Thronescast: Season 7, Episode 6


Listen to James Delingpole and me kvetching

about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. My verdict: episode 6 exemplified the best and worst of season 7. Great spectacle, terrible plot.

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Friday 25th August 2017

Hunt-the-iPhone was the highlight of my summer holiday


For years, Caroline and I have been squabbling over where to spend our summer holidays. Her ideal is a family-friendly Mediterranean resort where she can lie on a beach reading a paperback, while mine involves renting a car and driving from place to place, staying in Airbnbs and packing in as many ‘fun’ activities as we can. Last year she got her way; this year it was my turn.

So we took an easyJet flight from Gatwick to Munich. Admittedly not perfect, given that we were going to Italy, but it was the cheapest deal I could find: £450 all-in, including the kids. A bargain, even factoring in a 6.25 a.m. departure and a return flight to Luton. We ended up sprinting to the departure lounge after I’d miscalculated how long it would take to get through security — the perfect adrenalin-fuelled start to the holiday as far as I was concerned, although Caroline took a different view. (To read more, click here.)

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