Policy Lunchbox Begins: Engaging the Opposition

Science policy professionals met in London today for the first ‘Policy Lunchbox’ seminar, organised by the Biochemical and the British Ecological Societies. Nick Dusic, Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), led a discussion on ‘How to engage with the opposition and with manifesto development in the run up to the 2010 election?’

CaSE has canvassed major and minor political parties alike in the run up to the European Elections on 4 June, asking them to provide details of their science and technology policies. The organisation plan to do the same over the next few months, trying to ensure that science, engineering and technology are a key part of each party’s manifesto in the run-up to the general election expected in spring 2010.

Nick urged the learned societies and academies represented around the table to work together to influence the development of party manifestos, creating a clear statement about what science and technology policy should aim to deliver over the coming years. The election offers an opportunity to engage new people with science policy: and one which the scientific community can sieze adequately only by working together.

Hustings featuring the spokespeople for the major political parties could offer one means for the scientific community to openly question politicians about their parties’ policies on research and development, science education and skills needs. Nick singled out the ‘Science ’08” debate, called for by the science academies and universities in America during the US Presidential Election, as an effective way to raise the profile of science, engineering and technology and to encourage candidates to make their positions clear.

Overall, Nick encouraged the science community to work together – and work with CaSE – to make sure that whichever party is called on to form a new Government in 2010 demonstrates a strong commitment to science, engineering and technology.

Policy Lunchbox is an informal network of individuals working in science policy. Find out more about the network and future events we have planned.