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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Thursday 4th September 2014

The lesson of the young men fighting for Isis: evil is in all of us

I had an interesting discussion with my friend Aidan Hartley earlier this week about whether the young men fighting for the Islamic State are psychopaths. (This was before the news broke of Steven Sotloff’s beheading.) Aidan is better placed than most to answer this question, having worked as a war correspondent for many years and written a classic book on the subject called The Zanzibar Chest.

His view is that the Islamic radicals attracted to IS are not run-of-the-mill Jihadis, but a particularly nasty sub-species. Without in any way trying to defend the activities of terrorist groups like al-Shabaab, whose handiwork he’s witnessed close up, he thinks of them as being more like the IRA. That is, their adherents are motivated by a toxic cocktail of political and religious ideology which sanctions the murder of innocent civilians as a means to an end. The members of IS, by contrast, aren’t ideological fanatics, so much as bloodthirsty savages. They’ve travelled from places like Sydney and Manchester to Iraq purely because they want to chop people’s heads off. Their talk about wanting to reverse the Sykes-Picot agreement and create a caliphate joining Iraq and Syria is just so much rhetoric. In reality, they’re evil predators who’ve flocked to the killing fields so they can indulge their sick, sadistic fantasies. (To read more, click here.)


Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Interview in The Times

There's an interview with me in today's Times, mainly to talk about What Every Parent Needs to Know. You can read it here.


Sunday 31st August 2014

What Every Parent Needs to Know

The Telegraph has published an extract from What Every Parent Needs to Know in today's paper. You can read it here.


Thursday 28th August 2014

What Michael Rosen and I have in common

I first locked horns with Michael Rosen, the former Children’s Laureate, on Sky News about four years ago. We were debating the merits of trying to teach all children the best that’s been thought and said and quickly got on to the subject of whether the grammar school education we’d received would be appropriate for everyone, or just those who passed the eleven plus. My view, then and now, is that it would. His view, if I remember it correctly, is that grammar schools aren’t suitable for anyone, gifted or otherwise. He had only survived his by the skin of his teeth.

Since then we’ve clashed a few times. He’s been an energetic critic of the Coalition’s education reforms, writing a monthly column in the Guardian entitled ‘Dear Mr Gove’. I’ve always found it slightly irksome that he’s introduced as an expert on primary education when, in fact, his reason for opposing the government is because he’s a militant socialist. Not just a Guardianista, but a regular contributor to Socialist Worker. But to be fair, he doesn’t make any attempt to disguise his radical politics. In every debate he participates in, it’s only a matter of time before the bug-eyed, left-wing zealot emerges from beneath the woolly-jumpered, kids TV presenter exterior.

Coincidentally, we’ve both just written books on the same subject – what parents can do to help educate their children. Mine is called ‘What Every Parent Needs to Know’ (co-written with Miranda Thomas), while his is called ‘Good Ideas’. What’s remarkable about the two books, given that we’re at opposite ends of the political spectrum, is how similar they are. (To read more, click here.)


Friday 22nd August 2014

The self-delusion that makes people go to festivals – me included

I wouldn’t describe myself as a veteran of the summer festival circuit, but I’ve been to enough to have a theory about them. Or, rather, discuss someone else’s – in this case the theory of Matthew Taylor, the head of the RSA.

For those readers who’ve never been to a festival, I will begin with a short primer. They usually take place in a muddy field over a long weekend, often in the grounds of a stately home or similar, and cost upwards of £200 to attend. There is nearly always an adjoining campsite, where many of the festivalgoers stay for the duration, although the sanitary arrangements are invariably poor. The festivals usually feature second-tier rock-and-roll bands and a random collection of authors and journalists – these are the “performers” you’re paying to see, although many of them are people you’d cross the street to avoid. Towards the end of the evening, disc jockeys take over and play loud, repetitive music until 4am, making it impossible to sleep. Perhaps for that reason, a large number of festivalgoers will stay up and dance all night, even though the very same people have often brought their children with them. The upshot is that nearly every festival features a “lost and found” tent that fills up with abandoned toddlers after Midnight. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 21st August 2014

The school that proves Michael Gove is right

Success has many fathers and on Twitter the fight to claim credit for the results at King Solomon Academy has already begun. KSA is an all-through school in London, Paddington sponsored by ARK and its results are breathtaking.

First, the context. Twelve per cent of the children at the school have special educational needs, 51.1 per cent are on free school meals and 65.2 per cent don't speak English as their first language. So a challenging cohort, the sort of pupils that critics of Michael Gove's education reforms claim simply cannot manage to get five GCSEs at grade C or above, including maths and English, let alone do well in the EBacc subjects. Expecting children from such deprived backgrounds to study the same curriculum and sit the same exams as children at Eton or Westminster is "elitist". They're bound to do badly and that, in turn, will damage their "self esteem". Much better to teach working class children useful "life skills", such as how to walk (an actual recommendation made by the deputy general secretary of the ATL). Forcing them to do traditional subjects like History and Geography is "totalitarian".

Okay, so how did they do, these lumpen proles written off as too thick to tackle academically rigorous GCSEs by the teaching unions? (To read more, click here.)


Friday 15th August 2014

Don't let the left destroy Michael Gove's legacy

Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, was uncharacteristically silent yesterday following the publication of this year’s A-level results. Earlier in the week, he claimed that Michael Gove’s A-level reforms would “close the window of opportunity for many young people wanting to go to university”.

In fact, the percentage of students getting A* and A grades has only declined by a tiny amount – from 26.3 per cent to 26 per cent – and a record number of young people are likely to go to university this year.

Must try harder, Tristram. Once again, the floppy-haired ex-public schoolboy has proved he was born with a silver foot in his mouth. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 14th August 2014

Mark Simmonds was just saying what a lot of MPs think

I feel some sympathy for Mark Simmonds, the Conservative MP who’s resigned as a minister and is stepping down at the end of this Parliament because he can’t support his family. His announcement has been greeted with scorn and derision by the chattering classes – how dare he complain that an MP’s salary isn’t enough to live on? – even though most of them are earning far more than him. Any politician who utters a murmur of dissent about the terms and conditions of his or her employment is an instant pariah.

In fact, if you can be bothered to read beyond the headlines, Simmonds’s complaint seems pretty reasonable. His constituency is in Lincolnshire and under the new expenses regime he isn’t entitled to claim for the cost of renting a flat in London large enough to accommodate his family, just a hotel room. If he had a flat, his wife and three children could spend the weekdays with him and the weekends in his constituency, but as things stand he is forced to spend four nights a week sleeping alone in some seedy Westminster hotel. “Any parent would hate that – and I do,” he said. (To read more, click here.)


Saturday 9th August 2014

What's the point of being faithful if I can't feel morally superior?

I’m due to speak at an Intelligence Squared debate on Saturday and I’m worried that I might be on the wrong side. The motion is ‘Monogamy equals monotony’ and I’m opening the batting for the opposition. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly happy to make the case for monogamy. But the problem with framing the debate in this way is that it invites those of us opposing the motion to argue that, in fact, being faithful to one person is every bit as exciting as sleeping with whomever we choose.

Not only is that a difficult argument to win, but if we base the case for fidelity on those grounds, we deny ourselves one of the main pleasures of being in a monogamous relationship — namely, the sense of superiority you have over those who are too shallow to commit themselves to one person or too weak to keep their promises. When I compare myself with my unfaithful married friends, I don’t want the difference between us to consist in their failure to appreciate just how stimulating monogamy can be. Rather, I want to feel morally superior. I know that being unfaithful would probably be more fun, but I’ve chosen not to because I think keeping my marital vows is more important than massaging my ego via an endless series of sexual conquests. (To read more, click here.)


Saturday 9th August 2014

The five obstacles that stand between Boris and the Iron Throne

I think it’s fantastic news that Boris has announced he'll stand for Parliament in 2015, and not just because I think it will enhance the Conservatives chances of winning the next election. There’s also the small matter of my £15,000 wager with Nigella Lawson. Back in 2003, I bet her Boris would become party leader by 2018. I was too drunk to ask for odds at the time – it was an act of blind loyalty – and for a long time it seemed like a terrible bet. But as 2018 edges closer, it’s beginning to look more and more prescient.

Nevertheless, I still think Nigella’s money is safer than mine. By my reckoning, there are five major obstacles standing between Boris and the Iron Throne. (To read more, click here.)


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Twitter About to host the link conference in Leeds. Looking forward to meeting @sophia4sheffs, who I’ll be on a panel with at 2pm  (6 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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