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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 29th June 2014

Do people really hate free schools – or do they just hate me?

This isn’t a headline I was expecting to read: “Free schools could be a bigger negative for the Tories than EdM is for Labour.” Given that Miliband’s net satisfaction ratings are -39, that was quite a shock. Do the people who disapprove of free schools really outweigh the people who approve of them by a bigger margin than that?

Well, no, they don’t, obviously. The headline, which appeared on the blog of Mike Smithson, a Left-wing gadfly, was a reference to a YouGov poll on June 20. Respondents were asked whether they supported or opposed the creation of free schools and 23% were in favour, 53% opposed and 24% undecided. So that’s an approving rating of -30, not quite in Miliband territory. But not good, definitely not good. (To read more, click here.)


Sunday 29th June 2014

Cameron isn't to blame for the collapse of the hacking trial

I'm sorry, but the notion that David Cameron has been "humiliated" by the judge in the hacking trial, following the dismissal of the jury before it had rendered its verdicts on all three counts against Andy Coulson, is just plain wrong.

First of all, Mr Justice Saunders, the judge in the trial, decided not to grant the defence's application to discharge the jury this morning in light of the comments that the Prime Minister, Ed Miliband and George Osborne made yesterday about Coulson. True, he did decide to discharge them early this afternoon, but that was because they'd failed to reach a verdict and, in his view, had no realistic chance of doing so. It wasn't because he felt the jury been tainted by those comments. (To read more, click here.)


Friday 20th June 2014

To defeat the Left, the Right must embrace equality

I was on a panel yesterday at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty organised by the Centre for Policy Studies to discuss whether "the other side has won" and, if it had, whether "liberty and popular capitalism" could "fight back".

My fellow panellists were John Howard, the former Prime Minister of Australia, and Jason Kenney, a Minister in the current Canadian government, and they were both fairly optimistic, not least because of the electoral successes of their respective political parties.

I was less sanguine. As I've written in my Spectator column this week, I'm concerned that the enemies of the free enterprise system are gaining the upper hand. In part, this is due to the global financial crisis of 2007-08. Curiously, it had almost no impact on the 2009 European elections, as I wrote about here, but its aftershocks did have an impact on last month's elections, with populist, Right-wing parties doing well in Britain and France and radical, Left-wing parties doing well in Europe's crisis-hit southern states. Anti-capitalists at both ends of the political spectrum have succeeded in popularising the idea that the free flow of capital and labour causes an unacceptable level of social upheaval. In particular, it leads to ever-increasing inequality, with the top one per cent amassing more and more wealth as the remaining 99 per cent struggle to make ends meet. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 19th June 2014

What it's like for a lifelong Zionist to be accused of anti-Semitism

At the age of 17, after failing all my O-levels, my father suggested I spend some time on a kibbutz. One of the reasons I had done so badly was because I'd spent the previous three years in a permanent haze of marijuana smoke and I think my father was canny enough to realise that, in Israel, with its heavily guarded borders, illegal drugs would be harder to come by.

Or perhaps he just thought it would be good for me to get away from my rather unsavoury group of friends. At any rate, it turned out to be a masterstroke. Israel was the making of me.

Not smoking the wacky backy was a big help. My brain had been frozen in a state of adolescent befuddlement and, as the fog began to clear, I experienced a kind of awakening. I found myself becoming passionately interested in politics and read the Jerusalem Post every morning from cover to cover.

I moved between different kibbutzes - Ein Gedi, Degania Alef, Misgav Am - and quickly began to learn the history of Israel. I remember working on the date groves in Degania Alef and hearing about the Yom Kippur War from my supervisor. He described the dogfights he'd witnessed right above where we were standing. I also remember hurrying into a bomb shelter in Misgav Am as Katyusha rockets were fired over the border from Lebanon.

I don't know whether it was my age or the fact that my mind had finally been "switched on", but I fell in love with Israel. I loved the fact that it had the first female Prime Minister long before Margaret Thatcher, that it had no qualms about gays and lesbians serving in the military, that it had a free press in spite of being on a permanent war footing. I was captivated by the idea of a small state doing its best to remain true to its democratic values while being surrounded by enemies. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 19th June 2014

It's time to face down the greatest intellectual threat of our era (oh, and Ed Miliband)

As you’re reading this, I will still be recovering from the dinner I’m due to attend this week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Centre for Policy Studies, the think tank founded by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher. Earlier the same day, I’m due to appear on a panel with various conservative grandees to discuss whether the other side has won. Classical liberals emerged victorious from the battle of ideas in the 1980s, thanks in part to the work of the CPS, but it’s beginning to look as though we’ll have to have the same arguments all over again.

One reason for concern is the hard left turn taken by the Labour Party. It has often been said that Thatcher’s greatest victory was converting her socialist opponents to economic liberalism. The arguments that she and others made in favour of free enterprise, deregulation and lower taxes were accepted by Tony Blair and -- more grudgingly -- by his successor.

The same cannot be said of Ed Miliband. As the date of the election draws near, it’s becoming clear that he rejects this consensus. He plans to resuscitate price controls, confiscate undeveloped land and impose a swinging property tax. He’s even started to talk about re-nationalising the railways. (To read more, click here.)


Thursday 19th June 2014

Thatcher's descendants are in danger of losing the culture war

I feel honoured to have been invited to speak at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty on Wednesday. This is a one-day conference to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Centre for Policy Studies, the think tank founded by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher that has played such an important part in making the case for economic liberalism.

I’m on a panel with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard to discuss whether the other side has won. With so many forces ranged against classical liberalism – the BBC, the civil service, the trades unions, the voluntary sector, the Blob – it sometimes feels as if the left’s long march through the institutions is complete. Our side won the economic argument in the 1980s, a victory complemented by the collapse of the Soviet Union, but we’re in danger of losing the culture war.

This was brought home to me last week by the reaction to the news that six schools in Birmingham had been taken over by Muslim extremists. I naively expected this story to lead to an urgent national debate about the threat posed to our way of life by Islamic Fundamentalism. Surely, with the military success of ISIS in Iraq, we all now recognise that this toxic combination of anti-Western ideology and religious fanaticism has replaced Communism as the greatest danger to freedom and democracy?

Apparently not. (To read more, click here.)


Friday 13th June 2014

Islamophobic and anti-Semitic? I'm starting to feel like Jeremy Clarkson

I expect all of us have said something we regret at one time or another, but not everyone does so in front of 1.5 million people. That was my misfortune when I was caught off guard by an interviewer for ITN on my way out of a television studio in Westminster on Sunday.

I’d just done a review of the morning’s papers for Murnaghan and was feeling rather chipper on account of the exchange I’d just had with Diane Abbott about Labour’s electoral chances. Live on air, I offered to bet her £100 that Ed Miliband wouldn’t win the election and, to my delight, she refused to take it. “I never bet,” she said. Not exactly a vote of confidence from someone who, until recently, was a key member of Miliband’s shadow leadership team.

Anyway, I was feeling quite relaxed when the woman from ITN asked if I could give her a few words about the recent bust-up between Gove and May. (To read more, click here.)


Wednesday 11th June 2014

Imagine if the religious sect at the centre of the Trojan Horse plot were Christian...

Imagine for a second that the Birmingham schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse plot were being run by a Christian sect. Suppose that instead of organising trips to Saudi Arabia that non-Muslim schoolchildren were excluded from, this sect organised a trip to Bethlehem that Muslims weren't allowed to go on. That instead of organising school assemblies in which Western women were described as "white prostitutes", it organised assemblies where African-Caribbean men were labelled "black pimps". That instead of encouraging children to chant anti-Christian slogans, it got them to chant anti-Islamic slogans. That instead of a non-Muslim head teacher asking Ofsted to meet her in a car park because she felt "intimidated" by her Muslim governing body, it was a Muslim head teacher who was living in fear of an all-Christian body. Finally, suppose that the attitude of this Christian group towards women was absolutely identical to that of the Islamic sect that has infiltrated these Birmingham schools. That is, girls were forced to sit at the back of the class, they weren't taught anything about sex and if any were seen chatting to boys a religious zealot would go to their homes and warn their parents that they were in danger of becoming "sluts".

I think it's a safe bet that the Left would now be united in condemnation of this group. The Equality and Human Rights Commission would justifiably be angry that children as young as seven are being discriminated against on religious (and, arguably, ethnic) grounds. Feminists like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would be up in arms about the fact that female students are being treated as second-class citizens, instead of defending the schools as part of the rich tapestry of "multicultural Britain". The Guardian would be leading the charge against these schools, and rightly so, instead of publishing article after article dismissing their critics as racists and excusing these discriminatory practises on the grounds that the pupils concerned are "overwhelmingly Muslim". The Labour MP Diane Abbott would be shouting about this from the rooftops, instead of accusing me of conflating all Muslims with terrorists, as she did on Murnaghan on Sunday when I described this particular Islamic sect as "medieval". (To read more, click here.)


Friday 6th June 2014

Nietzschean superman no more

In The Wolf of Wall Street, there’s a poignant shot towards the end in which we see an FBI agent going home on the subway. This law enforcement officer – Agent Patrick Denham – will eventually bring about the downfall of Jordan Belfort, the film’s main character, and the fact that he uses public transport is supposed to be evidence of his integrity. He’s an honest, hard-working taxpayer who plays by the rules.

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but in the past 25 years I’ve gone from being an international party boy to a kind of FBI Agent. Admittedly, I’ve never plumbed the depths of debauchery that Jordan Belfort does in the film. Even in my New York heyday, I was more of a Mouse of Madison Avenue than a Wolf of Wall Street. But I aspired to be that guy. I dreamed about being whisked from party to party in a white limousine with a blonde on each arm – “cufflinks,” as Frank Sinatra used to say. A sort of WASP Puff Daddy. (To read more, click here.)


Wednesday 4th June 2014

Five things you need to know about Theresa May's row with Michael Gove

1. Theresa May is desperate to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. She knows that her best chance of achieving this will be if Labour wins the next general election and David Cameron resigns. In that scenario, she'll have no serious rivals, a point underlined by yesterday's poll in ConservativeHome showing her as the clear front runner. That explains why she has absolutely no qualms about aggressively briefing against Michael Gove this morning in spite of the fact that it torpedoed Downing Street's hopes of getting some good PR from today's Queen's Speech and comes on the eve of a critical by-election. (To read more, click here.)


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