Editor's Notes: In public life, as in the City, boards should be diverse institutions, bitcoin bubble is driven by blokes and Angela Rayner's honest assessment

 
Christian May
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Toby Young has caused controversy with a board appointment this week (Source: Getty)

The left has always been better than the right when it comes to filling public appointments.

The Tory grassroots website ConservativeHome is trying to address this by promoting opportunities to apply for public roles to its readership, but it will be some time (if indeed it ever happens) before the boards of quangos and public bodies are balanced, let alone right-leaning.

In this context, much of the criticism that met the appointment of conservative journalist and free school founder Toby Young to the board of the new Office for Students was lost in a sea of hypocrisy. Young is one of 15 independent directors who will oversee the work of the new university regulator, and for much of this past week left-wing activists and academics have been howling with rage at his appointment.

The criticism covers three main areas: that he is unqualified, that he is inappropriate, and that he only got the gig because he’s a Tory. Taking these in turn, his qualifications seem, to me, to be perfectly respectable. He has a track record of working to improve access to education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has opened several state schools that seem to be doing very well.

Read more: National Audit Office criticises universities for "mis-selling" courses

The charge that he is inappropriate is more difficult to bat away, given that it’s based on the emergence of a string of lewd and distasteful tweets that date back to 2009. But as for the accusation of nepotism, I refer to my opening point: Conservative governments ought to be appointing conservatives.

If a left-winger was denied a seat at a public institution on the grounds that they were chummy with Labour ministers there wouldn’t be anyone working at our quangos. So while Young deserves criticism for his off-colour tweets, he should be given a chance to prove his worth on this new board. In public bodies as in business, boards should be diverse and home to a range of backgrounds.

Royal wedding economic boost

Let the bells ring out! Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle could provide a £500m boost to Britain’s economy, according to brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance. When William and Kate tied the knot an extra 350,000 visitors flocked to bask in the fairytale. This time around, analysts expect £200m to be generated by tourism, £150m spent on parties and £50m on commemorative items with £100m worth of free advertising for brand Britain. Get the bunting out!

Read more: Sorry... there's no Bank Holiday for the Royal wedding

Bitcoin bubble driven by blokes

“Market bubbles may be a male phenomenon” – so says Cambridge academic John Coates following the revelation that 95 per cent of all bitcoin investors are men. Deloitte found that the bitcoin trend is being driven almost entirely by the Y chromosome. Deloitte’s Duncan Stewart says “I cannot think of any security, currency or asset class in history that shows that extreme gender divide and has been sustainable.” Stewart cites the previous tech stock bubble and burst. What is it with nerdy men who have too much cash?

Read more: Here's what analysts say could happen to bitcoin and other cryptos in 2018

Trader's Ocado oops

Sometimes it’s corporate brands that deliver the best moments on Twitter. Earlier this week a trader tweeted that he’d just shorted Ocado, labelling it “overvalued.” Whoever was manning the Ocado twitter account did their best to offer some customer service, replying: “We’re sorry to hear this, please DM [direct message] us... in order for us to look into this further.” Apparently the delivery firm uses the term “shorted” to mean missing items in a delivery – which would be the least of their worries if this investor is correct.

Read more: Ocado isn't worrying about those takeover rumours

Angela Rayner opts for honesty

Full marks for honesty are awarded to Labour’s rising star, Angela Rayner, who has described her party’s economic policy (which involves borrowing £500bn for additional spending) as “a bit of a shit-or-bust strategy”. Rayner tells the Spectator that Labour’s plans are “high-risk” but says the time has come for a radical overhaul of the economy, adding that “all of Britain’s great advancements in the past have been because we’ve had the gumption to take a risk”. The Tories will have fun with this.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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