Its the day before the election and to be completely honest I am REALLY excited. An election appeals for my geeky love of numbers and stats. I am loving reading the many articles and Internet tools devised to determine how much your vote would count, who you are most like and my favourite Facebook group ' We got Rage against the machine to number 1, we can get the Lib Dem's into office' !. My favourite election 'tool' by far is votemach, matching your views to the party policies. Simple!
The big topic is how each party is going to cut the budget deficit without harming the economy.. all parties will need to save money somehow whilst still making sure that the country doesn't come to a standstill. So what does that mean for science? Luckily politicians seem to take the view that science seems to be a hot area for investment (quite rightly). The Lib Dems, Labour and Conservative all pledge to continue investment in science - so that is good news.
I had a read of the three manifestos and there is just one thing that stood out for me. The Lib Dems are the only party in their manifesto to dedicate a whole section to science (The Conservatives do have a section on 'Making Britain the leading high tech exporter in Europe' but its not nearly as explanatory as the Lib Dems).
The Lib Dems promise funding in science (as do the other two) but they go further, pledging that they will use independent advice to create science policy and safeguard academic freedom, so that advisers are able to provide advice without fear of bullying or mistreatment. They also support open access academic publication, so everyone can see the results of state funded research. I think it says something about the Lib Dems that they make a point of drawing these out in their manifestos - where the opposing parties are staying relatively vague.
I think another difficulty when it comes to science and politics is that so few politicians understand important topics in science and so understandably feel somewhat uncomfortable discussing them aaaaaaaaaaaand swiftly moving on to another stat... 110 of 645 MPs have a BSc (about 17%) you may say the number is quite high, but that includes many social science graduates and arts degrees that carry a BSc. According to the article, the number of MPs with a background in science is likely to fall after this election. I do not think that Parliament should be run by scientists and I know that a lot of people think 'What's the point in science?'. But as key player in the UK economy and a growing field I think its only right to suggest that all political departments should have a scientific advisor on hand (you never know when a killer virus crisis could strike).
Anyway, enough about that, it all comes down to tomorrow night... I will be watching the numbers come in whilst flicking over to Channel 4's Come Dine With Me Election special which I am equally excited about!!