The issue of the London School of Economics' links to Libya has received a lot of coverage in the UK and some of the world's press. Various decisions have led to the resignation of its Director Sir Howard Davies. There has also been strong intellectual criticism of his predecessor as Director, Tony Giddens, now a 'Lord Professor', for meeting Colonel Gaddafi, and his measured encomium of him as a fellow progressive whose 'Green Book' could be considered as a clumsy but promising effort to embrace the insights of Giddens and Blair's own 'Third Way'.
Within the School one voice, that of Fred Halliday, consistently argued against the LSE being drawn by the lure of Libyan gold into being positioned into a formal relationship with the regime - while always seeking to exercise academic and scholarly assistance to those governed by it. In various ways Halliday's consistent opposition has been denied or misrepresented, while other reports have quoted selectively from the memo he submitted to the Council of the LSE on October 4th 2009 when it made its final consideration on whether to approve the £1.5 million grant from the Qaddafi Foundation.
As Fred Halliday was a long-time and now much missed columnist for openDemocracy, whose collection of his columns Political Journeys is about to be published by Saqi books, we publish his memo below in full.
Memorandum to LSE Council
- As senior academic and administrative colleagues are aware, I have, since visiting Libya in 2002 as part of a British Council delegation, had serious misgivings about some of the School’s dealings with that country. These I have expressed on numerous occasions, in writing and verbally, to senior colleagues. While I am in favour of British government and business attempts to develop links with Libya, and support LSE work that is of a consultancy and advisory character, and while encouraging personal contact with whatever Libyan officials we meet, I have repeatedly expressed reservations about formal educational and funding links with that country. Most recently, upon hearing that Council had approved a grant of £1.5m. from the Qaddafi Foundation, and prior to the signature of the agreement between the School and the QF, I wrote to senior administrative staff (the Director, Pro-Director for Research and External Relations) and to Professor David Held, the leading proponent of our accepting this grant, expressing my misgivings. Subsequently, on September 8, I had an extensive meeting with Professor Held, and with two officials of ODAR, at which our disagreements were aired. The following is a summary of my main concerns, ones anterior to, but reinforced by, developments over the summer in regard to the Lockerbie affair. I understand, indeed, that Council is intending to re-examine this matter, and hope that the following comments will be off assistance in that regard.
- Major Concerns
Professor Fred Halliday, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, LSE; Academic Governor 1994-1998; Founding Chairman of Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE 2001-2002; Director-Designate, LSE Middle East Centre, 2006-2008.