I am delighted to be able to write a short piece for the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) on the importance of Science and Engineering for my Constituency of Thirsk and Malton.
Author Archives: Alan Avery, Labour PPC
One of the great myths about the Green Party is that it is opposed to technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply opposed to risky and dangerous technology and strongly in favour of investing in sustainable technology, useful new discoveries and pure research.
The UK has been leading the world in science and innovation for centuries – it is one of our proudest records and greatest assets. And as we face challenges like climate change and energy security, antibiotic resistance and a growing world population, science is also our biggest hope.
The UK has a world class reputation for excellence in science and innovation. We have some of the best scientists in the world working in the best institutions in the world. I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics & Maths to A level & qualified in Medicine, so I fully understand the importance of science & scientific research. The advances in my own field of cancer have been incredible over the last 30 years & it is now likely that within a few years, we will move to a system of personalised treatment of all cancers, based on the genetic profile. But it’s not just cancer where improvements in prevention & treatment are needed. Arthritis, dementia, motor neurone disease, mental health & chronic disease management are all areas where further progress is needed to reduce long-term morbidity & reduce the need for expensive inpatient care. Investment in scientific research is therefore crucial, not just in medicine, but all areas of science & technology.
When I talk to people outside of Hastings & Rye they normally say to me; ‘Oh, arrow in the eye, tapestry, invasion by Normans.’ They’re far less likely to know about building components for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, high-powered lasers or high vacuum technology. Still less likely are people to mention that Hastings is the high tech hub of South-East England. Read More
The other Green Party candidates have contributed articles to www.sciencecampaign.org.uk around our policies, which are great. These left me thinking about the public view and understanding of science. It’s close to my heart, because I believe if public understanding of scientific issues were increased, support for the changes we need to make urgently towards living within the boundaries of one planet living would be increased too. Read More
Innovation and quality are the drivers of economic success, so the need for science and engineering is surely not open to question. A major problem for the UK is that we produce far too few engineers. According to the BBC we produce only around 23,000 engineering graduates a year. Meantime India produces eight times as many, and China twenty times. Read More
I have been involved in scientific activity for much of my working life. While I studied Geography at University I led, as a student, a successful expedition to the Band-i-Amir lakes in the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan to study limestone tufa deposition. This involved scientific measurements and led to a published booklet of findings.
Why science and engineering is important to the UK and how I would support this as a Member of Parliament
My name is Scott Nicholson and I am Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in Perth and North Perthshire. When I am not knocking on doors and writing letters like this, I work as a Scientist. I graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences. I went to work in the NHS as a Medical Laboratory Assistant, then Trainee Biomedical Scientist, Biomedical Scientist and then Specialist Biomedical Scientist, specialising in diagnostic medical microbiology. The NHS funded my MSc in Biomedical Sciences (Medical Microbiology) and I was able to start undertaking research on the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile, as a Research Technician at the University of Leeds. I felt I still had a lot more to contribute as a Scientist so moved to the University of the West of Scotland where I am currently a PhD student researching the role of proteinase activated receptor 2 on B cells in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
I’m the Head of Physics in a high performing school in the South East of England and so, of course, Science and Engineering are very important to me personally. The Physics Department I run is amongst the top performing departments in the school, and we regularly have 25-30% of all of the 6th form students here taking A level Physics – a very high proportion I’m sure you will agree. Last year 75% of our U6th Physicists left with an A* or A grade and many went on to study Physics, Engineering or other Science subjects at top British Universities. As a school, we are doing a very good job in educating the next generation of Scientists and Engineers, and this is something that all of the teaching staff are justifiably very proud of.
The UK has massive potential to embrace renewable energy (surrounded by sea as well as wind and sun). If there was the political will, we could be world leaders in these technologies. Sustainable building and renovation is another area we could focus on to be really useful. Unfortunately, however, this country seems to be enmeshed in a worn out political paradigm which says that the money markets and short term ‘growth’ are top dog. In other words, we have chosen the jolly (but uneven) path of the inveterate gambler rather than the thorny road of purposeful scientific advance. Perhaps this has something to do with our traditional lack of respect for academe. Our culture seems to be predominantly one of dependence on trading (‘a nation of shopkeepers’) rather than thoughtful inventive progress.
An economy that truly values science and engineering is the key to growing the number of skilled, secure and well-paid jobs that Britain desperately needs. After five years of the Tory-led Coalition government, the country is awash with poorly paid jobs in the service sector, with a record number only offering zero-hours contracts with little opportunity for training or progression.
I heartily approve of the work of the Campaign for Science and Engineering and endorse everything you say, but there are two particular areas where I would go further. Read More
As a young man I did not have to travel far from home to find work. I was fortunate to have begun my career when the UK was a world leader in engineering: we were a nation of researchers, inventors, builders, designers. Not only did we have the skills to do the job but we also had the ingenuity to seek out solutions and the application to deliver exactly what was required. It was a well-deserved reputation from a long-ago era.
I am delighted to have been asked to engage with the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and as the Member of Parliament for Cleethorpes I would be doing everything I could to help UK science and engineering.
Science, Technology and Engineering have transformed the world over the last century and Harold Wilson recognised that trend 50 years ago with his ‘White Heat of Technology’ speech. There are unfortunately some bad examples of their effect on society but these are far outweighed by the benefits. Improvements to our health, security, welfare and standard of living over the period have been tremendous. More people now have the opportunity to live longer, healthier and more interesting lives, especially if the benefits are shared with everyone in society.
Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the OrbisEnergy centre in Lowestoft, a hub for technology companies seeking to harness the potential of what has been called our ‘Energy Coast’. It was an exciting glimpse into what the future of this country could look like if we take seriously the need for transformation of our economy and our society through technological innovation.
It’s excellent news that Sir James Dyson is doubling the size of his base in Malmesbury and along with it the number of engineers he employs. But he reckons we need at least 87,000 engineers a year to meet demand. According to Engineering UK, by the time today’s primary school pupils are of working age, we will require over two million or our economy will suffer devastating repercussions. If those positions aren’t filled here, the work (like manufacturing) will be sourced elsewhere. Read More
The basic aim of Green Party Science and Technology policy is to encourage and promote research, development and application of science and technology that will:
- Increase knowledge and understanding.
- Help to understand and address the major environmental threats such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity losses.
- Contribute to a better quality of life for all the inhabitants of the world.
After a career in construction I have seen many changes, not all for the better, but also the fact that the general conception of the population at large has changed very little over the years and most seem to have little idea about what we do. The following is a brief summary of my thoughts on the issue :-