‘Geek the vote’ and the battle of Bosworth

Scientists are being urged to take their prospective parliamentary can­didates to task over the next fortnight to ensure that they are taking science seriously as an elec­tion issue.

April 22, 2010

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) is among several organisations and individuals pushing the issue as part of a campaign dubbed “geek the vote”.

Three ministerial debates have been held, and the campaign is even fielding a parlia­mentary candidate. Michael Brooks, a consultant for New Scientist magazine, is standing in Bosworth, Leicestershire, under the auspices of the Science Party, which launched its manifesto this week.

The seat was chosen because the incumbent MP, Conservative David Tredinnick, is a supporter of complementary and alternative medicine, with a penchant for astrology.

Dr Brooks accused Mr Tredinnick of being “a ring­leader in rubbishing the scientific process”, but the Tory MP, who has held the seat for 23 years, responded in kind.

He said Dr Brooks “represents the worst kind of rigid-thinking scientist”, adding that it was “a great compliment” that he and his supporters “feel so threatened by some­one who supports… acupuncture and homeopathy”.

Nick Dusic, director of CaSE, urged scientists to raise “local and national issues relevant to science” with candidates in the run-up to the election on 6 May. “Ask them about con­ditions in your labs or invite them to see what sort of research is being done in their constit­uency,” he said.

He added that the campaign, which has as its mainstay a New Scientist blog, “The S-Word: The science of politics and vice versa”, had pushed science up the political agenda.

“Science is an election issue,” he said. “It is coming to prominence more than before, and we have seen a lot more detail and commitment in the main parties’ manifestos than we have in the past.”

He added that CaSE would shortly publish letters from each of the three main parties setting out their science policies in detail. He said that the Liberal Democrats and Labour had also pledged to release mini-manifestos on science.


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