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An ugly, venomous toad…with no precious jewel in his head

Posted on April 30, 2019

ToadSweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head       As You Like It

Who would win the prize for missing the point about the climate change protesters? I know that he’s far too easy a target, but the answer in beyond challenge. Toby Young.

I read recently that Young has disabled the facility that alerts him when he’s been mentioned on any sort of media – social or mainstream. For any normal person, aggrieved, distressed or even intimidated by the spasmodic ramblings of those who feel they must be heard, that might be a very sensible thing to do. But for Toby, we’re talking about pulling out the lifeline.

That’s because Toby is the very model of the modern public figure. The veneer isn’t the top show, maybe plastering over the shallow or even providing merited gloss on a heap of accomplishment. In his case, what you see is all there is. This amounts to a driving desire to be noticed and a false notion of himself as the outspoken iconoclast, articulating what others only dare to think. The fact that we’re beleaguered by these fine fellows – Piers Morgan, Farage, Littlejohn, Melanie Phillips (yes, I know she’s not a bloke) – all puffing themselves out so daringly, might be testament to many things. But however many factors contribute to their infamy, two things are constant: a complete absence of any introspection and a startling indifference to the gap between their ambition and their abilities.

Toby’s beef is with Greta Thunberg. Somehow he has confected a line between some supposed privilege in her upbringing and her current status as spokesperson for a justifiably frightened generation.

Where to start? Are we asked to believe that  Greta’s mother’s fleeting fame as a Eurovision contestant has propelled her daughter into the public spotlight more quickly than if she had not graced that most prestigious of international events? After she’d finished warbling for a comatose, drink-dulled Saturday night audience, did Ma Thunberg take little Greta aside and furnish her with the tricks of the trade about being an international star? Where is the line of thought here?

Apart from her being privileged, Toby wants to ‘call her out’ because no-one has the temerity to challenge her on the fact that the West is doing something. Really. Honest. She’s just not being fair, so let’s ‘call her out’. Yeah. Go on, big guy. Fill your boots. How does anyone look at themselves in the mirror after coming out with that sort of flatulent, embarrassing bluster?

Maybe Toby’s reaction is bred of pure, old-fashioned jealousy. You see, people like Greta. She’s unpretentious, clear in her speech, passionate without being shrill or strident and has a wonderful knack of getting people to listen to her and take her seriously. No-one in their right mind thinks she has the full blueprint for a better society tucked up her jumper, but what she does say chimes with people’s fears and concerns. She’s popular.

By contrast, Toby is Midas in reverse. Whether he’s starting up free schools and then jacking it in because, who knew, it was all a bit more difficult than it looked. Or starting his PhD but finding it was too hard for him (seen a pattern?).  Or wheedling his way into heading up the Office for Students and getting the elbow within hours. Or Trump-like, tweeting that he liked ladies’ boobies, or snuggling up with eugenicists, Toby can find more ways of cheesing people off than should be open to any sentient being. Little wonder that a crowd chanting ‘We Love You’ at Greta in Marble Arch gets his goat.

And yet……as a reward for achieving absolutely nothing of any note other than going to Oxford because his dad wrote him a note, Toby has not only set himself up as a heroic foghorn for the fusty right, but has convinced any number of editors and programme commissioners that he’s worth the gig. I suppose it’s nice work if you can get it, but if the price of notoriety is the requirement to always expose the thinness of your soul and the grime around your heart, Toby’s welcome to it!

And there’s the rub. The reason that Toby wants to ‘call out’ Greta isn’t because she’s got it wrong on climate change. It’s because she’s sixteen, brave, clear-headed and concerned about things other than herself. That’s why people listen to her and like her, Toby.

Think about it.

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