Winner 2021

Toby Young, a journalist, author and social commentator, who has championed the importance of freedom of speech, won the 2021 Contrarian Prize.

Young established the Free Speech Union in 2020 in response to the pervasive threat, as he sees it, to open discourse. The Union helps individuals fight back if they have been no-platformed on university campuses, fired for expressing their views, or rounded on by mobs on twitter.

He believes that the term “hate speech” has been weaponised by political activists to silence their opponents. The current malaise, in his view, is down to the rise of post-modernist Marxist ideology in the humanities and social sciences which, he argues, advocates particular lines of thought. 

Toby Young - biography

Toby Young is the general secretary of the Free Speech Union, a non-partisan, mass membership public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members. He co-founded the West London Free School, the first free school to sign a funding agreement with the British government, and is the author of four books, the best known of which is How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2001).

His teaching experience includes working as a teaching fellow at Harvard and a teaching assistant at Cambridge. He is an associate editor of the Spectator, where he’s written a weekly column since 1998. Most recently, he set up a blog called that has received over 40 million page views.