Thursday, May 6, 2010

In search of the White Coat Vote

Is there such a thing as the science vote? We've heard of the green vote, the pink vote and so on, but do political parties take any notice of the White Coat Vote?

A recent survey of UK scientists by the science journal Nature, has shown that an overwhelming number of scientists surveyed think that the Liberal Democrats (31%) and Labour (33%) would give scientific research the best chance of thriving in the UK. Just 10% thought the Conservative Party would provide such a boost.

The survey of 262 scientists, the majority (64%) of whom worked in academia, also asked which party was most likely to use science or scientific advice to formulate their policies. The Lib Dem's were the clear winner on this point with 36% of scientists opting for them, 24% saying Labour and again, just 10% saying Conservative.

A massive 36% of respondents asserted that none of the main contenders for the PM job, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have any grasp of science.

And, with spending cuts high on the agenda, 71% of scientists polled thought the Conservatives most likely to cut science funding. Just 18% suggested Labour and 2% suggested the Lib Dem's. Given the reality of the economic situation in the UK and elsewhere, it seems odd that there was no "all of the above" option for this particular question.

The full results of the poll are available here.

Some citizen-scientists felt so let down by conventional parties that Michael Brooks and Sumit Paul-Choudhury founded The Science Party in April of this year and Brooks himself will contend the parliamentary election in the constituency of Bosworth.

Brooks has made clear who's seat he is aiming for - that of the Conservative David Tredinnick. According to The Science Party, Tredinnick has  little grasp of science and claimed more than £700 on MP's expenses for astrology software and training.

Tredinnick has also recently stood by a comment he made recently that those who rubbish facets of eastern medicine (including homeopathy and astrology) are being racist.

“David Tredinnick is the thick end of the wedge, but there are plenty of MPs who dismiss scientific results,” Brooks says. “When you are making decisions about what kind of healthcare our country can offer its people, that is potentially disastrous.”

Brooks is a writer and broadcaster who is a consultant with the well-known science magazine New Scientist.

In June of 2009, it emerged that Tredinnick had sought to claim expenses for his attendance at a seminar on how to "honour the female and also the male essence and the importance of each". The course was designed to teach those attending about "polarity and neutrality" and the "deep passions of our intimate relationships".
An official in the Commons fees office wrote to Mr Tredinnick to explain that "costs relating to Intimate Relationships courses do not fall within the remit of this allowance" and the claim was turned down.

***Update Friday 7th May***

With the results now becoming clearer, it seems that the scientists' choice for government (if the Nature poll is to believed), the Liberal Democrats, will not make anything like the gains which Nigel Clegg's popularity throughout the campaign suggested. The Science Party also performed badly, if the result from Bosworth (see below, via The Guardian) are anything to go by. So much for the White Coat Vote!


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