Theresa May needs to show backbone over sexist Toby Young appointment

Nepotism is known to be common in politics.

But we could see it particularly clearly last week when right-wing commentator Toby Young was given a position with the UK Government as a board member of a new universities regulator.

Boris Johnson – when he was editor of The Spectator – commissioned Young to write for the magazine.

Fast-forward a few years and Boris’s brother Jo, a Cabinet Minister, gives Young a job in Government.

Boris, who is now also a member of the Cabinet as Foreign Secretary, endorses the appointment, saying Young will bring “caustic wit” to the role.

However, what may be caustic wit to Boris is, to most people, clear sexism and homophobia.

Young was known for his obscene articles, comments and tweets – a lot of which could not be repeated in the Daily Record.

He spends a significant amount of his time tweeting about women’s breasts – including, on one particular occasion, about a minor.

In fact, following the uproar after his appointment, Young deleted 50,000 tweets he thought would potentially be inappropriate.

He describes himself as a “maverick” when, in fact, he is a man with dangerous and damaging views who hasn’t hesitated to share them with the wider world.

The sexual harassment scandal which engulfed Westminster at the end of last year is not yet over.

The Prime Minister’s No1 colleague Damian Green was sacked just as Parliament ended before Christmas because of his inappropriate behaviour and the committee set up to deal with the staff complaints in Westminster are not yet fully up and running.

So, how could memories be so short? How could Young have been appointed when his vile views and tendency to share them with the wider public have been overlooked?

Theresa May is endorsing the behaviour she has previously claimed to be determined to eradicate.

If the UK Government are serious about creating a shift in society – where sexual harassment and misogyny is not the norm, and not the status quo in Westminster – men who spout vile views as part of their day job should not be gifted Government positions of responsibility. By conceding the appointment, May is showing how weak she is.

She has spoken of her “distaste” for Young’s comments and views, as if she has no authority over the issue.

On yesterday’s Andrew Marr Show, the PM said she was unaware of his previous comments until last week – and he’s essentially safe in his job until he acts inappropriately again. But this is inconsistent with the other dismissals in her Cabinet in recent weeks.

There is a public petition against the appointment, which has more than 12,000 signatures. I hope May gets a backbone and sacks Young.