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Willetts and the AHRC: Big Society or Big Brother?

In response to the  Observer article which claimed that “the AHRC was told that research into the “big society” was non-negotiable if it wished to maintain its funding at £100m a year“, the AHRC has been embarrassed into posting an ‘Important Statement’ in which it ‘unconditionally and absolutely refutes the allegations reported in the Observer’.

The refutation is in fact only a denial. The denial consists in asserting that they “were NOT instructed, pressured or otherwise coerced by BIS or anyone else into support for this initiative”. They offer little evidence for this assertion, apart fromthe fact that the “Big Society’ initiative connects up with the Connected Communities Research Programme they have been running since 2008. They also point out that the Observer offers no evidence for its assertion either. This is true, but then the Observer would be unlikely to disclose its sources, if they are appropriately placed in Government or the Research Council, and thus credible.

So which account is true? For they surely cannot both be.

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