Commenting on the result of the election, Professor Sir Pete Downes, President of the Biochemical Society said:
“The Biochemical Society would like to congratulate new and returning MPs and looks forward to championing the molecular biosciences with the new Parliament. It was encouraging to hear the Prime Minister reference “colossal” investment in science in his victory speech on Friday morning, echoing messages seen throughout the campaign. We welcome these messages and, as a society with 6,500 members and broad networks across the science community, we look forward to contributing to policy developments needed to achieve these aspirations.
We believe science, research and innovation are global endeavours, and were pleased that the Conservative manifesto mentioned international collaboration and EU Horizon research funding. We will continue to work across the sector to make the case for full association with forthcoming “Horizon Europe” research and innovation funding programme and to maintain an open, welcoming and thriving science base in the UK.”
Science policy issues in the campaign
There is an enormous amount of information around for the UK General Election with all parties vying for your vote.
Here are some of the policy issues that might affect the molecular biosciences, and the broader research and higher education sectors. You may want to consider the different parties’ positions on these issues in their manifestos. You can also contact your local parliamentary candidates or attend hustings events to ask about these or any other issues relevant to you.
- Research funding: investment into science is key for continued innovation, discoveries and development. In recent years, most major parties have committed to a large uplift in R&D spending. You may wish to review their commitments to a funding increase, and the balance of where funding will be allocated (discovery vs applied research for example) and for any indication of participation in EU funding frameworks.
- Immigration: science is inherently international. Parties’ immigration policies may indicate whether there is support to make it easy for talented scientists of all career stages to come to the UK for meetings, collaboration or to work.
- Education: You may find it useful to look at plans relating to schools, higher education, further education, technical education and lifelong learning. Science education is the foundation both for a scientifically literate society and ensuring the pipeline for future molecular bioscientists. As education is a devolved issue, make sure to consult regional party manifestos for policies on education in devolved regions.
- Regulatory alignment: plans for regulation particularly following the UK’s exit from the European Union may impact a variety of areas relevant to the molecular biosciences. These may include: drug development and medicine regulation, use of genetic technologies and use of animals in research.
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We have linked to manifestos of larger parties that were freely available online at the time this page was published. A full list of all parties standing in the 2019 General Election can be found here.
Get involved with the debate
There are rules during the ‘pre-election period’ (sometimes referred to as ‘purdah’) which limit some activities of the civil service, some government agencies and charities. These rules are in place to prevent government agencies from influencing the election.
Previously, there has been some concern that these rules may apply to academics and researchers that work with government, or are funded by the research councils. We wanted to remind you that, as an individual researcher you are not restricted from providing independent commentary. Evidence and expertise are critical to shaping policy, and we would encourage you to use your expertise to discuss issues publicly ahead of this election.
For more information, read this piece by Fiona Fox from the Science Media Centre, published in Research Fortnight: “Purdah rules are a victory, but only if researchers use them”.
Register to vote
The deadline to register to vote in the General Election is midnight on 26 November.
The polls will be open on the 12 December from 07:00 until 22:00, so there’s plenty of time to vote. However, if you are unable to get to the polling station, you can vote by post or by proxy. To vote by post, you must register this option by 17:00 on 26 November. If you wish to vote by post or proxy from Northern Ireland, you must register by 17:00 on 21 November. You can apply for a proxy vote up until 17:00 on 4 December.
If you are a student, you may be able to register in both your home and term-time addresses. However, make sure you only vote in one location.
For more information see www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk.