Not much about Beeston here I’m afraid, and not in my next two posts either that will deal with 1) My claim for a baronetcy 2) cats, evil. But as the Tory party conference chugs along in earnest, making Birmingham the least attractive city in Europe to be in right now (although it also held that title last week, sans the tories), and the knives are out for anything that dares touch the tax-take.
I’m not going to argue about the level of radicalism when it comes to deficit reductions, or the speed, or the callousness. I’ll leave that to the better informed, and those who can write polemic without falling off the cliff of reason and into the seas of spluttering, floundering rage. None of that, just a bafflement about one decision, a decision that makes so little sense either Gideon hasn’t twigged, or has, and is even more of a malignent turd than I previously suspected.
Britain lost its manufacturing base years ago, as cheaper exports and the free market made it too expensive to produce goods at a competitive rate. Thatcher finished off in the eighties, when she sensed that Sheffield steel workers, Tyneside ship builders and Northern coal miners were strongly unionised, predominantly left- leaning and therefore The Enemy to the society-free, individualistic right wing utopia she and Keith Joseph dreamed of. All are now as good as dead, eastern european coals do indeed go to Newcastle, and the branding MADE IN ENGLAND is an anachronism now only seen on artisan breads and Lambrini.
What does prop us up then? Where do we punch well above our weight? What do we do well that makes the rest of the world doff its baseball cap/beret/fez? Knowledge, thats what. We live in the Information Age, where Google, Facebook and Twitter do nothing other than provide a platform for thoughts, often crap ones, often useless ones, but often ones that are changing the world at an incredible rate…all the same, such companies are massively loaded, pouring billions into coffers with the resultant taxes.
Britain, with a mere one percent of the worlds population, yet kicks out 10% of global scientific output. Which is quite a staggering statistic. Heres another. Today, two British based scientists won the Nobel Prize for Physics due to their research in a staggeringly incredible material called graphene, which is now the most expensive material on earth: a square centimetre would set you back around $100,000,000. Its uses could revolutionise electronics, solar cells and biomedical materials. Its great. Its a material that couldn’t have been developed in Britain if it wasn’t for EPSRC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: funded directly and entirely dependant on government money.
Yesterday, a British scientist won the Nobel Prize for Medecine for perfecting the techniques that made IVF possible; and thus enabled millions of infertile couples to have children. He promptly got told off by the Vatican (which must be a great validation for a scientist after their stance on Galileo).
Tomorrow, there might be a hat trick, and by the time you read this you’ll know who. Even if we dont do the whitewash, bagging two out of three of the greatest prizes in science is quite an achievement for Britain, akin to England winning the World Cup AND European Cup not just once, but every tournament, by seven goals of such beauty, skill and grace they make Pele look like Thora Hird. Yet we take it for granted, and even now I imagine winning a friendly 1-0 against Andorra would provoke more national pride. This isn’t a fluke year, by no meands: this tiny island has a record of achievement in the Nobles, and less glam research prizes that makes us look like the pulsating brains of the world, kicking out ideas, inventions, discovering stuff of such amazing importance we should pat ourselves firmly on the back and perhaps crack open that dusty bottle of Chateau De Pape Neuf we were saving for a special day.
But what we are doing is not quite like that. Nope. We’re sitting back and watching as Cable, Call Me Dave and Gideon decide to take their shears and look like snipping 25% off scientific research and development budgets across the government funded science sector, predominantly in Higher Education. This is madness, as every pound put into such funding pops out the other end at least 30% shinier than it was when inserted. Its the Golden Goose, and cuts, with the resultant brain drain, would be incredibly suicidal if we want to keep our fragile economy in the running for recovery. The thinking is we can’t hamer certain institutions-predominantly in the financial sector- too harshly as this would be detrimental to the economy after the first budget sheet is drawn up. If this argument is used for banks, then it is illogical to stop watering the roots of a sector we should be massively grateful for. Unscientific, in many senses of the word.
So, what to do? How can YOU stop this silliness? You dont have to do an awful lot. Due to the wonders of, errrr, science, simply click :http://scienceisvital.org.uk/sign-the-petition/ and then sign the petition. Write to your MP, you’ll find a template somewhere on the site; even if said MP is Soubry; spam this article on Twitter, Facebook, and wherever, just make sure we don’t intellectually castrate ourselves after the imminent spending review. Its easy. Its not rocket science. Arf.