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Tony Blair and University College London: a sad alliance

War and peacePosted by john sloboda Wed, November 07, 2012 08:49:28
Tony Blair is to be the keynote speaker at the inaugural conference of University College London's Institute of Security and Reslience Studies next week (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isrs/events/isrsconference). This is my letter to UCL about this. I will post here any reply I receive.

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Professor Malcolm Grant
President and Provost
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

7th November 2012


Dear Professor Grant,

Tony Blair and the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies

I am an alumnus of UCL (PhD in Psychology 1974) and I have always worn my UCL affiliation with pride. I hope I can continue to do.

It is a matter of some concern to me that Tony Blair has been listed as the top invited speaker at the inaugural conference of UCL’s Institute for Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS) on 13th November.

Many people in Britain, and around the world, would consider that Tony Blair has done more to undermine our security and resilience than any other living British politician. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently withdrew from a Leadership summit after discovering that Blair was on the platform, he was appropriately expressing global public opinion.

It is also a matter of concern that, as far as the UCL website informs the world, the leadership of the ISRS does not reside in the outstanding scholars and researchers on which UCL’s international reputation rests. Rather, it is staffed and advised mainly by people whose major experience has been within the Military, Government, and the Defence Industries.

Allied to this, it is of concern that two major defence multinationals (EADS and Ultra Electronics) are listed on the home page of the Institute, without any clear explanation of their role. The natural conclusion to be drawn is that they fund and determine the policy and direction of this Institute, exploiting and undermining UCL’s intellectual and moral independence.

I very much hope that the senior management of UCL will pay careful attention to internal and external concerns raised by this Institute and its activities, which are substantial and growing, and will issue a public statement on this matter.

Yours sincerely,






John Sloboda, FBA
Research Professor, Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Keele University

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Posted by John Sloboda Fri, May 03, 2013 23:38:18

I have now received a reply from a member of the UCL management. It was actually sent in December 2012, and for some reason, did not arrive with me at that time. I am currently seeking agreement to publish this reply here.

Posted by john sloboda Mon, March 25, 2013 16:05:36

Update, 24th March 2013. As of today I have received no acknowledgment of my letter from the Provost or from another member of the senior management that I copied it to. However, the Institution's website has had an update since I wrote, and there is a FAQ section which suggests that there has been quite a lot of concern about accountability and independence which the College has needed to respond to. See: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isrs/faqs