With the Euoprean Parliament elections tomorrow (or rather later today, as I’m a little late in posting this) I had planned to take a look at where all the major parties fielding candidates stand on science. Fellow bloggers Frank Swain of SciencePunk and Martin Robbins of Lay Scientist have gone one better though, and submitted nine questions to UKIP, Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party. They also have an editorial in the Guardian. You can check out their sites for the full details, but I thought I’d pick out some interesting points.
The questions cover a range of topics, from the obvious (climate change) to the more politically niche (open access). The three main parties gave predictable, fairly non-committal answers to many questions, but also failed completely to answer some. Perhaps more interesting was the response from the smaller Green and UKIP parties. Polls suggest that many people are thinking of casting their lot in with these parties as a protest vote, both their approach to science is quite worrying.
UKIP dismissed the importance of action on climate change, say that we already do enough already in terms of GDP spending. The Greens are of course very environmentally friendly, but would seek an EU wide ban on embryonic stem cell research whilst also supporting alternative medicine like homoeopathy. Bizarrely, they also want to make zoos illegal.
Clearly, science is just one of many issues that you should consider at the ballot box tomorrow, and with expenses claims and the future of the European Union at the front of most voter’s minds it would be easy to ignore science all together. If you are considering a protest vote with one of the smaller parties though, I would urge caution and to read the manifesto small print. If you care about science, you might regret your vote.