Weeks spent at loggerheads with Charles Clarke, the education secretary, over the higher education bill seem to have taken their toll on Labour MP Ian Gibson. Ten minutes after arriving at the Institute of Biology's annual meeting last week, he was whispering anxiously to Gill Samuels, Pfizer's director of science policy: "There is going to be wine afterwards isn't there?"
His speech, "Would you let your child become a science researcher?" (aka "Why I think the higher education bill debate was pathetic") was a hit with an audience worried about endless short-term contracts. But with no easy solutions, the Merlot was calling. "I think," he concluded after 15 minutes of debate, "that it's time to have that drink."