A Reply from Julian Sturdy: Science Is Vital.

My MP Julian Sturdy replied to my letter concerning the Science Is Vital campaign

Houseofcommons

An apology: I’ve just found Julian Sturdy’s reply to me dated 30th September – (it had worked its way under the shoerack), so it is not true that he did not respond to my earlier letters. I am sorry if I gave the impression he was unresponsive. Nonetheless I stand by the case I made in my earlier letters, and I was pretty polite etc. I am happy to set the record straight. Fair play to him – he wrote back.

It is important that constituency MPs read and respond to correspondence; you can’t always expect an individual response. In this case the letter (a good two pages) is almost word for word the same as one he sent to a colleague Dr Pam Blundell from the University of Leeds, who lives in the same consituency. More worryingly, it is remarkably similar to a letter sent by a different MP, Ed Vaizey to one of his constituents and another that Home Secretary Theresa May sent to one of hers. From the similarity of wording, we know that Mr Sturdy is following a well worked out party line and has made liberal use of the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V keys in preparing his reply. As I said in my video letter – I think it is important for MP’s to think for themselves on this.

Nevertheless, it is a reasonably balanced answer that at least recognizes the value of science, but argues that we need to do more with less. I think this (mirroring Vince Cable’s original announcement) misses the point that British science is already world class and highly efficient, points that I’ve tried to make in my own – lovingly and individually-crafted missives. The letter mentions some specific areas where the government considers UK is a world leader, but this is a very patchy selection of already successful research, overlooking the huge range of disciplines where we make a world leading contribution far out of proportion to our population or the proportion of GDP we spend on science. It also misses the point that the new ideas we’ll need to fuel growth in the 21st century will almost certainly come from new lines of inquiry. Investing in already proven ideas will not be enough to generate the breakthroughs that will keep Britain ahead of the game.

So it’s a very qualified thumbs up for Julian Sturdy MP; I still hope he is persuaded to think beyond the coalition line and join his colleagues in supporting EDM 767. There’s nothing left-wing about opposing cuts in science – indeed the long-term economic productivity of science ought to appeal to the Tory ideals of growth through innovation and entrepreneurism. Science is not a party political football, and while we all understand that cuts are needed in public spending, we should recognize that in some areas spending now will drive growth tomorrow – cutting these areas is akin to eating the seedcorn. In my view, science is special.

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