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HEPI in the News: The Haldane Principle and the 2015 election

  • 24 September 2014

The Director of HEPI, Nick Hillman, has an article published today on the Guardian’s Higher Education Network website about Liam Byrne’s claim that the Coalition Government are subverting the Haldane Principle.

One of the arguments in the piece is that the approach of David Willetts (science minister until July) and Liam Byrne is somewhat closer than either would be prepared to admit, especially during this frenetic pre-election party conference season.

For example, both Willetts and Byrne are keen on closer links to China, but the challenge any science minister faces in balancing scientific and political priorities were neatly summed up by the former last year:

The Haldane Principle matters a lot, but when you have the Chinese Industry or Science Minister saying to you, we really want to cooperate with you, we’re worried about ocean acidification, how about a joint programme of research on ocean acidification, you put in £25 million and we put in £25 million, you then have slightly awkwardly to explain how that isn’t quite how science funding works in the UK. The gap between the international appetite for co-operation and any kind of acceptable arrangements in which we make that happen with any of steer I think is another dilemma that I wrestle with on an almost daily basis. (Source:


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