I am grateful to Ivan Horrocks for drawing my attention to an article in the Guardian on Sunday. As Ivan noted:
There’ll be a lot less academics being communicators come this May unless the Cabinet Office rule that will stop any academic who receives government funding from speaking out is implemented. As The Observer notes:
The proposal – announced by the Cabinet Office earlier this month – would block researchers who receive government grants from using their results to lobby for changes to laws or regulations.
‘For example, an academic whose government-funded research showed that new regulations were proving particularly harmful to the homeless would not be able to call for policy change.
Similarly, ecologists who found out that new planning laws were harming wildlife would not be able to raise the issue in public, while climate scientists whose findings undermined government energy policy could have work suppressed.’
As Ivan goes on to note:
I’d have to add that given the complete lack of interest our government has in compromising on any form of policy this will be “law” very shortly.
This is profoundly worrying. Let me take a simple example. My department at City University organised a public discussion last Thursday on Labour’s world view. It would be impossible to argue that this was not publicly funded: at the very least it took place in publicly funded premises. Some criticisms of government policy were made. Would this now be illegal?
The impression that we are heading for a single party, totalitarian state where dissent is not allowed grows by the day.