POLITICS
08/01/2018 18:06 GMT | Updated 11/01/2018 10:53 GMT

Disabled Tory MP Calls Toby Young 'Dark And Dangerous' In Plea To Ministers To Act

Fellow Tory Sarah Wollaston said Young's offensive 'jokes' were "indicative of an underlying character" and he had to go.

A Tory MP begged ministers to rethink the appointment of Toby Young, citing the education advisor’s “dark and very dangerous” views on eugenics, disabilities and working class people.

Young was named as a board member of the Office for Students, but there has been widespread public outcry at the move by ministers. 

Robert Halfon, the influential chair of the Education Select Committee, joined a chorus of voices, including that of his Conservative colleague Dr Sarah Wollaston, calling for the Government to sack him on Monday.

Halfon, who has cerebral palsy and osteoarthritis, told Universities Minister Jo Johnson, who was answering an Urgent Question in the House of Commons from Labour on the issue, “things have gone badly wrong”. 

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Toby Young's appointment has shocked many 

He set aside numerous sexist tweets Young had posted and hastily deleted, and picked out an an article on eugenics from 2015. 

In it, Young proposed that poorer people should be helped to choose which embryos were allowed to develop, based on intelligence.

Halfon said: “And I’m not talking about the things he has done on Twitter. What I’m more concerned about is some quite dark articles, when he talks about the disabled, when he talks about the working classes are much more significant, in 2015. 

“And I have the article here on what he calls ‘progressive eugenics’. I find this incredibly dark and very dangerous stuff. 

“I suggest to my Hon Friend that he looks again at this appointment because I don’t think it will put confidence in students.” 

Countless deeply offensive remarks have been made by Young and a petition against the appointment has more than 200,000 signatures. 

It points out the free schools champion once referred to children with learning difficulties as “illiterate troglodytes” and complained about “ghastly” political correctness which meant schools being forced to have wheelchair ramps. 

Young also once referred to state school undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge as “stains”.

A particularly offensive post saw Young ‘joke’ about masturbating over photographs of refugees during Comic Relief. 

Wollaston later said Young’s comments “do cross a line” and were “indicative of an underlying character”. 

Dr Sarah Wollaston
Dr Sarah Wollaston in the House of Commons

“I do feel that he should withdraw or at least as we all do when we apply for jobs we say whether or not there is anything in our past that could cause embarrassment - if that question was asked and he answered ‘no’ then there is a case for the board revisiting and asking him to step down,” she said. 

Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Equalities, condemned the appointment and comments by Johnson’s brother, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, saying Young was the “ideal man for the job”.

She said: “Is it just simply a case of the jobs for boys?

“Boris Johnson, the minister’s brother, has declared that he has caustic wit, which makes him the ideal man for the job,” she said. “If boasting of masturbating over pictures of dying and starving children is caustic wit, then I have most definitely lost my sense of humour.”

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and his brother Jo Johnson, Universities Minister, have both defended Young 

Labour former minister Yvette Cooper, meanwhile called for Jo Johnson to stand side by side with women across the globe “who are saying to men like this their time is up”.

She added: “The problem is that this man thought it was okay to publicly leer at women’s bodies while they’re in the work place.

“Including tweeting repeatedly about women, about their knockers, their breasts, their boobs, their baps, on and on.

“What does it say to women across the country and young girls across the country that a Government Minister is defending them?”

She added: “Why won’t he instead stand with women across the world and across the globe who are saying to men like this their time is up?”

Fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy said Young “deserves to stay on Twitter, not in teaching”.

She added: “The minister asks us to judge Mr Young by what he does.

“As one of the many women who have had personal, repeated and recent experiences of his ability to lose friends and alienate people I say to the minister an undergraduate student would know this is not evidence enough of a change in behaviour, for someone simply when they have been caught out to say sorry.”

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Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Yvette Cooper

The Universities Minister defended the appointment, claiming Young would provide scrutiny from outside the sector as well as praising his work on free schools.

Johnson also called Young “an eloquent advocate of free speech”.

The minister said: “It is of course right that Mr Young has apologised unreservedly to the Office for Students’ board.

“It is also right that he has said he regrets the comments and has given an undertaking that the kind of remarks made in the past will not be repeated.

“Be in no doubt, if he or any board member were to make these kind of inappropriate comments in the future, they would be dismissed.”

Johnson also attempted to defend Young’s views on disabled people, telling Halfon: “He has been a champion of students, of children with disabilities 

“He has a brother with learning disabilities and he is patron of the residential care home, in which his brother, who has learning difficulties lived.”