Regular Just a Theory readers will remember our coverage of the furore surrounding Lord Drayson’s new jobs following the cabinet reshuffle last month. In her (very good!) article on the subject Jess Bland alluded to a debate between me and Lord Drayson on Twitter.
Jacob has asked me to bring you up to date with the story since then.
To recap, back in June 2009, the current UK government had a cabinet re-shuffle. One of the consequences of this re-shuffle was that Lord Drayson became simultaneously Minister of State for Science and Minister of State for Defence.
It struck me that this was perhaps an appointment that needed to be questioned, not on the grounds of Drayson’s abilities, but firstly on the matter of science being so closely politically twinned with defence, but moreover, science having only a part-time minister.
To this end I asked the question on social networking site Twitter:
“Anyone else worried that science and defence are now inextricably politically linked? with @lorddrayson doing both jobs!?”
From there several of my colleagues joined a discussion which eventually drew in Lord Drayson himself. Dr Stuart Lowe, an astronomer at The University of Manchester, has kindly aggregated the debate so you can see a tweet by tweet account of what went on.
During this debate UK magazine Times Higher Education (THE) asked Lord Drayson, via Twitter, whether he would be interested in penning an opinion piece in their pages justifying his position and countering our concerns. He duly obliged and you can read his article here.
Having sparked the debate in the first place I was anxious that my objections to Lord Drayson’s appointment, and subsequent policy announcements regarding pure science research, were also put to the readers of THE. I sent a speculative tweet to the magazine and they gave me 700 words to argue my corner the following week.
Following the publication of that piece on 9th July Lord Drayson got in touch with me, again via Twitter, and this is what he had to say:
@skyponderer Fair & good points u make. How do we continue the conversation now? Want to invite me to a live debate? Or stay tweeting?
How could I refuse!? The chance to grapple with one of the cabinet is surely a chance not to be missed.
So that is the current state of the Drayson debate. THE have offered to host our debate and are currently in contact with Lord Drayson’s people to make it happen.
I am busy collecting people’s views on the subject as I am very keen to use this chance to be a mouthpiece for the views of a wider community. It is not everyday we get a chance to debate the science minister in person, so I have setup a way you can let me know what you think.
Read the background articles above and whether you agree with Lord Drayson, or you agree with me, or you disagree with both of us, please visit my website and you’ll find a form where you can tell me what you think. I will be picking the best comments and putting them to the Lord himself when the time comes!
In addition, I hope to syndicate the debate right here on Just a Theory so watch this space!