Is Toby Young a eugenicist? Young has been riding high on the news cycle ever since we was given a job at the Office for Students (OfS). People held up Young’s offensive tweets and, depending on your prejudices, either hounded him from a job he was well-equipped to perform or exposed a pervert who benefitted from friends and family in high places to score a job he was unfit for. Under pressure, Young resigned from the position.
Prejudice has played a part in Young’s undoing, of course. Labour MP Angela Rayner wanted Young banned from the OfS for his “historical comments”. That’s the same Rayner who supported her fellow Labour MP Jared O’Mara, the charmer who labelled his fellow humans “sexy little slags”, “poofters” and “fudge-packers”. Angela Rayner told the BBC’s Today Programme: “I am happy to sit alongside him, because he made those comments 15 years ago… People do change their views…it is important that they recognise that and apologise and correct that behaviour.”
And what of Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who called Tory MP Esther McVey a “stain on humanity”? He mused: “Why aren’t we lynching the bastard?” Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, has described Mr Young – who apologised “unreservedly” for previous “ill-judged” comments – as “horrible”. Appearing on BBC Radio 5Live, Thornberry was asked if she believed Mr McDonnell should apologise. “I think that those who remember what it was that she [McVey] said around the time that she was cutting benefits to disabled people will be horrified to hear that she is now the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.”
Isn’t that, you know, victim blaming?
What of the death threats aimed at McVey that followed McDonnell’s attack? “Well, that is wrong but what she needs to do is she needs to ensure that she educates herself properly about what the effects of cuts to benefits have on real people on a day to day basis,” said Thornberry, who saw no need for McDonnell to apologise.
And there’s more. On the BBC’s Question Time last night, the matter of Young’s attendance at a get together called the London Conference on Intelligence (LCI) at UCL was raised. The London Student Coop site highlights some of the matters discussed there: “The London Conference on Intelligence, is dominated by a secretive group of white supremacists with neo-Nazi links.,, Among the speakers and attendees over the last four years are a self-taught geneticist who argues in favour of child rape, multiple white supremacists, and ex-board member of the Office for Students Toby Young.”
Private Eye says the conference “serves as a rendezvous for academic racists and their sympathisers”.
Yes, I heard some people express some pretty odd views. But I don’t accept that listening to someone putting forward an idea constitutes tacit acceptance or approval of that idea, however unpalatable. That’s the kind of reasoning that leads to people being no-platformed on university campuses.
Fair point, no? If attending equates to approval, what of woking for the Iranian regime? Nick Cohen noted:
Jeremy Corbyn has been paid £20,000 to appear five times on the totalitarian Iranian regime’s propaganda channel, which was banned in the UK for its role in filming the tortured forced-confession of Iranian liberal journalist Maziar Bahari… Iranian democracy campaigner Maziar Bahari’s own thoughts on Corbyn, who he describes as ‘a useful idiot’, and goes on to say:
People who present programmes for Press TV and get paid for it should be really ashamed of themselves — especially if they call themselves liberals and people who are interested in human rights.
The Iranian regime executes gay people, democracy activists, Kurds, and orders the rape of female prisoners. But Corbyn is happy to take their money and aid their propaganda campaign. Watch the end of this clip as Jeremy hosts a caller who describes the BBC as having hosted ‘Zionist liars’.
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.
Double standards? Of course. That much is certain.
And as for eugenics being, as Question Time panelist comedian Nish Kumar called it “some dark Nazi shit”, well, not all eugenicists are Nazis. There’s Marie Stopes, the family-planning pioneer, who in a book called Radiant Motherhood denounced any society that “allows the diseased, the racially negligent, the thriftless, the careless, the feeble-minded, the very lowest and worst members of the community to produce innumerable tens of thousands of stunted, warped and inferior infants.” Helen Keller said that allowing a “defective” child to die was simply a “weeding of the human garden that shows a sincere love of true life.” In 1910, ardent socialist George Bernard Shaw’s lecture to the Eugenics Education Society was reported in the Daily Express: “A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.”
Polly Tonybee, who like Bernard Shaw did, writes for the Guardian, also forgets history. Does she forget that the Fabian society once advocated eugenics? The Fabian Society, as the Guardian notes, “joined with the trade unions to found the Labour party”. Says Tonybee in that paper:
Despite the non-emergence of an “intelligence gene” and the predominant importance of environment over heredity, the far right’s search for reasons why the poor are inferior has a long history. Steve Jones, renowned geneticist, puts it this way: he points out that wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. He says moving to affluence increases a working-class child’s IQ by 15 points. As for super-breeding, Darwin asked a racing dog breeder how he succeeded: “I breed many and I hang many,” was his reply. Not so easy with humans.
Young’s New Schools Network is an odd beast, a charity drawing £2m, 90% of its income, from the state, to advocate and help people set up new schools. But there haven’t been any successful applications since before the 2015 election.
The closing date for the renewed contract to the NSN is 19 January – though it has always gone to the same outfit. Toby Young earns some £90,000 per year as its head. There is, in the tender, no mention of applicants being fit and proper – or non-eugenicists.
Is it a “witch-hunt” as Young says it is?
Brendan O’Neill says it is. He sees a cull:
…the worst thing about this days-long, now successful demand for a metaphorical head on a platter is that it will intensify one of the nastiest strains in British politics right now: the urge to purify public life; the thirst for harrying and hectoring and shaming out of polite and political society anyone who isn’t fully au fait with PC-speak, who isn’t completely versed in the new and prudish sexual strictures, who doesn’t believe that men can become women, who thinks it’s okay to make jokes about things, and who isn’t an obedient bower and scraper before the worldview of a staggeringly narrow but sadly influential section of society. Toby Young’s fate confirms the intellectual straitjacketing of public life, and the borderline criminalisation of eccentric, daring or simply daft thought and speech.
If we’re all being judged all the time, and are found wanting, can we please hurry up with those robots…