The AHRC is now maintaining that they were NOT blackmailed into identifying The Big Society (a Tory campaign slogan) as a research priority, but that they decided on it all by themselves, with no government pressure. (I know something’s wrong in the world when I find myself deeply disappointed to find out that blackmail didn’t take place.)
It also emerges that they have produced documentation on this “research theme” which reads (and looks) like party political propaganda. For non-UK readers, the Big Society idea is that government should withdraw from funding essential services as far as possible and that the spirit of volunteerism should take its place. Think Bush Senior’s “1000 points of light” on steroids: volunteers should fill in for police, rubbish collectors, doctors. Of course– it goes almost without saying– they should take the place of services to families. What is the world envisioned by this? The AHRC document helpfully illustrates with a photo of 1950s housewives chatting over the fence.
There are calls for a boycott of the AHRC by those currently doing the work of reviewing applications, etc.
I feel ill.