Science is becoming a major election battleground with scientists mobilising in support of the budget ring fencing Labour Party while the Conservatives are suspected of planning ‘deep cuts.’
Or is it?
One of the debates that has been taking place recently is over the nature of science and how to stimulate its value to the economy. Should it be driven by economic or strategic need or do we take a chance on basic research coming up with the goods? Obviously we need both, and in the right proportion.
However science isn’t very important to politicians unless you are the science minister, and is even less important to ordinary voters. If you ask non scientists questions such as What is more important, a free at point of care health service or science? Should public sector pay be cut to improve science funding? Should we spend money on foreign aid or science? then you soon see the magnitude of the problem.
While science ministers from all parties will be pledging increased funding and talking up the importance of science to the economy, the reality is that science is invisible to most people and in an almost bankrupt UK it can and probably will have its budget hacked to bits without anyone noticing (for a few years anyway).
UK politicians are not as enlightened as their Korean counterparts, and the political battleground is to do with ordinary people in marginal constituencies, not the minority that toil in laboratories, nor the majority that will benefit from their toil in ten years time.
Smart science administrators will be preparing a new streamlined and efficient research environment, whoever wins the next election.