Controversial journalist Toby Young has stepped down from his recently appointed role to the Office For Students after facing a huge backlash.
Young, who the Conservative Government appointed to the board of the OfS to help uphold standards at universities, had caused great offence among students and beyond for past Tweets and comments which many viewed to take aim at the disabled and working class – along with various statements which were viewed as misogynistic. A petition to oust him as Universities Regulator hit 200,000 signatures this week.
“My appointment has become a distraction from its vital work of broadening access to higher education and defending academic freedom,” he said in a statement to The Spectator. “The caricature drawn of me in the last seven days, particularly on social media, has been unrecognisable to anyone who knows me”.
Young added: “Some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.”
“Serious cleavage behind @Ed_Miliband’s head,” Young Tweeted during Prime Minister’s Questions in 2012. “Anyone know who it belongs to?” He had a history of Tweeting about various women’s breast size.
One of his more controversial statements was about inclusivity in schools and wheelchair access.
“Inclusive. It’s one of those ghastly, politically correct words that have survived the demise of New Labour,” Young once wrote for the Spectator. “Schools have got to be ‘inclusive’ these days. That means wheelchair ramps, the complete works of Alice Walker in the school library (though no Mark Twain) and a Special Educational Needs Department that can cope with everything from dyslexia to Münchausen syndrome by proxy.
“If [then education secretary, Michael] Gove is serious about wanting to bring back O-levels, the government will have to repeal the Equalities Act because any exam that isn’t ‘accessible’ to a functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six will be judged to be ‘elitist’ and therefore forbidden by Harman’s Law.
In 1988 book ‘The Oxford Myth’, he wrote of working class students at the university: “It was as if all the meritocratic fantasies of every 1960s educationalist had come true and all Harold Wilson’s children had been let in at the gate … Small, vaguely deformed undergraduates would scuttle across the quad as if carrying mobile homes on their backs.
“Replete with acne and anoraks, they would peer up through thick pebble-glasses, pausing only to blow their noses.”
On The Andrew Marr show on Sunday (where she was trolled by Franz Ferdinand), Theresa May praised Young’s “exceedingly good work in relation to free schools” but warned that if he continued with such offensive comments, he’d find himself “no longer … in public office”.
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