Letter writing

Yesterday I wrote to my MP, which is something I’ve not done before. The axe is about to fall on public spending in the UK, and science is at grave threat. My letter was based on the template that the ‘Science is Vital‘ campaign provide, but I embellished it with some personal experiences that I hope make it stronger. Here it is:

Dear Mr Mearns,

I am one of your constituents. I would like you to:
– sign EDM 767 – Science is Vital (http://bit.ly/edm767)
– sign the Science is Vital petition – (http://scienceisvital.org.uk/sign-the-petition)
– and attend a lobby in Parliament on 12 October (15.30, Committee Room 10).
The evidence is clear that investing in research brings a range of economic and social benefits, and that severe cuts at the very moment that our competitor nations are investing more could jeopardize the future of UK science:
1. Cuts will harm the economy
2. Cuts will waste the investment already made in facilities and people
3. Cuts will hurt world-class research, not eliminate waste
As a scientist working at Newcastle University, I am all too aware of the potential economic impact that so-called ‘blue skies’ research has. I am currently involved in setting up a collaboration with a pharmaceutical company as the result of a project I am involved with; a collaboration that was entirely unexpected given the work that was funded, and that has arisen as a natural evolution of the research process. Without the public money from a research council, the basic science that led to this collaboration with the private sector would never have been done, the partnership with industry that successive governments have been so keen on would not have been possible, and so would never, and could never occur. This is just one of countless projects that has potential economic impact beyond that which even those applying for funding could have envisaged. How politicians, disconnected from the process of science, can presume to make the same judgements even further upstream is beyond me.
The Science is Vital [http://scienceisvital.org.uk/] coalition, along with the Campaign for Science and Engineering [http://www.sciencecampaign.org.uk], are calling upon the Government to set out a supportive strategy, including public investment goals above or at least in step with economic growth. Without such investment and commitment the UK risks its international reputation, its market share of high-tech manufacturing and services, the ability to respond to urgent and long-term national scientific challenges, and the economic recovery.
I have signed the petition at http://scienceisvital.org.uk/sign-the-petition/. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
Simon Cockell
I’ll post any reply I receive. I wrote about science funding in the light of the financial crisis 18 months ago, my feelings haven’t changed since then. If those in science don’t act to save it, who else will? Sign the petition, and write to your own MP.

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