No Bite in the Bark

Sir Howard Davies was given an easy time this morning by rottweiler Humph.
Sir Howard’s resignation may have been a noble selfless thing for the sake of that fandabbydozy institution the LSE, but I felt we never got to the nitty gritty.
What about the influence this dosh from despots might have on the teaching? Humph did ask, but he let Sir Howard get away with a distinctly cavalier denial. Where was Humph’s terrier-like dog-with-a-bone tenacity that we have grown to love and hate?

It may well be a good thing that Gaddafi’s elite are well trained and taught how to do things properly, and it may well be desirable for reputable universities to become global villages at the heart of London even if it means they risk sacrificing their independence, and it may well be necessary to engage with bad people. But must this fearsome, penetrating interviewer accept it all with little more than a murmur ?
Would everyone who might utter: “I’ve made two ‘errors of judgement’ but they weren’t my fault” or: “the government made me make some bad decisions” be let off as lightly?
What made the old dog lie down and let these important questions go, not with a bang but a whimper?

Stephen Pollard, in the Telegraph, wonders about the university funding question too. He is worried about the money that has gone to Islamic study centres.

“A study of five years of politics lectures at the Middle Eastern Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford, found that 70 per cent were “implacably hostile” to the West and Israel. A friend of mine, a former Oxford academic, felt that his time was largely spent battling a cadre of academics overwhelmingly hostile to the West, in an ambience in which students – from both Britain and abroad – were presented a world-view that was almost exclusively anti-Western. “

Apart from the Oxbridge universities he mentions – for another example I give you Exeter University, the one that has recently announced its decision to charge the maximum tuition fee. It’s the home of a major Saudi-funded Islamic study centre, and it boasts revisionist historian Ilan Pappé and the fragrant Palestinian activist Ghada Karmi as members of its teaching staff. I find this alarming.

These are the things that I want John Humphrys to consider, and I’d like him to savage all intractable interviewees, whatever their politics, in the same ferocious manner presently reserved uniquely for those he disagrees with.