Lord Giddens as “Blair guru”

I occasionally run across stories involving Anthony Giddens, well-known sociologist, speaking about political issues in Britain. Here is another example of the actions of the “Blair guru”:

Labour peer Lord Giddens, who brought the debate on 13 October entitled Universities: Impact of Government Policy, said ministers appeared to be pursuing policies of “ill-considered, untutored radicalism” that were not based in proper research and had “imponderable outcomes”.

The academic, who advised former prime minister Tony Blair and is professor of sociology at LSE, said the reforms would leave England as a “global outrider” with one of the lowest levels of public support for higher education in the industrialised world.

He said the “ideological thrust” of the Browne Review should have been rejected and instead tuition fees only gradually raised alongside the maintenance of direct public support for universities, due to their “massive” beneficial impact on society.

“Universities are not a sort of supermarket where education can be chosen like a washing powder off the shelf. Students are not simply consumers, making day-to-day purchasing decisions. They will make a one-off decision,” he said.

Reading these stories, it seems like Giddens has more political clout than most sociologists. Is this simply a function of having been close to Tony Blair, did Giddens do specific work/research that put him in contact with politicians, or does Britain simply have a different culture regarding public intellectuals and how sociologists can be involved in social and government life?

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