Parallel to the continuing rows over the STFC’s poor management of its finances and the disastrous cuts that resulted and the impending cuts imposed on the universities by Lord Mandelson, report after report has been flooding in saying the government is pointing the wrong way on this. These included reports on the economic contribution of the space industry to the UK, which is both considerable and grew during the recession.
Today, two more reports came out to add to the others. The Royal Society, science’s leading body in this country for three hundred and fifty years, put out a report suggesting ministers should invest. Now you may think “they would say that, wouldn’t they?”, but the report commissioned by the society was in fact written by business leaders and former science ministers from both the main parties. The report reminds ministers that all our main competitors are increasing funding and that innovation drives economies. The full report can be seen here.
Meanwhile, the Dyson report, commissioned by the Conservative party, has come to much the same conclusions with its target a full new economic model based on science and technology as drivers of a production economy rather than the managerial agent economy we have now. The full report can be downloaded from here.
It’s always encouraging to see the main party’s advisors saying they should invest in science, but it should also be noted that this isn’t a change in the advice they’ve been given for many years now. The fact that they still have to keep reiterating the message does not bode well.