Target: Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister
Goal: Commend the United Kingdom for protecting the free speech rights of academics from an anti-lobbying clause in government grant agreements.
Fears that scientists in the U.K. would be silenced by the federal government’s new anti-lobbying measures have been assuaged. Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has announced that the controversial clause, which would appear to bar government-sponsored researchers from lobbying for specific policies, will not apply to the academic community. This will ensure that scientists at universities across the U.K. will still be allowed to speak publicly about the conclusions they draw from work conducted with the help of government funds.
Pushback against the policy has bubbled up on a number of fronts, from this ForceChange petition to statements released by various academics and activists alike. In response to these frustrations, the proposed anti-lobbying section of government grant agreements has officially been put on hold while other groups, like non-profit organizations such as Voice4Change England and The Charity Finance Group, continue to express their concerns. Overall, this is a good sign for researchers in both the academic and non-profit sectors.
It is imperative that research done with the aid of government funds remains uninhibited by Draconian free speech restrictions. Evidence-based policies for issues ranging from lack of housing to climate change are desperately needed in the U.K. Preventing those working on these issues from speaking publicly about their ideas simply because they have been awarded government grants would greatly stifle the intellectual atmosphere of England.
Minister Johnson’s announcement thankfully reflects an increased appreciation for the free speech rights of academics. It is important for government officials to respond swiftly to the concerns of their citizens, and Johnson’s decision to protect scientists from anti-lobbying measures is an important step in that direction. Sign the petition below to thank Minister Johnson for protecting academics from anti-lobbying clauses in government grant agreements.
Dear Minister Johnson,
I am writing to thank you for announcing that scientists in the U.K. will be protected from the federal government’s anti-lobbying clause in grant agreements. Measures that restrict the ability of researches to speak publicly about conclusions they draw from their own work have no place in the 21st century.
There has been immediate pushback against the proposed anti-lobbying measures and for good reason. Evidence based policies are an integral part of the solution when it comes to pressing issues such as lack of housing and climate change. Preventing those who do research on these problems from influencing government policy simply because they have been awarded federal grants would be a grave mistake.
The voices of researchers need to be heard by the public and by government officials. Your announcement has validated this point. Thank you once again for protecting scientists from the federal government’s anti-lobbying clause.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jeremy Selwyn