Yesterday, the Green Party manifesto was launched. Last year I remarked (in passing and via a Times article) that the Green Party are not that hot on science/research in their manifesto for the European elections. This year in their general election video, the story is not that different, with some of the same pledges coming out to play. I have already blogged on the main parties manifesto commitments to science and education, but coming later than the other parties, and being sufficiently, well, interesting, I’ll dedicate a whole post to their pledges.
Firstly, I should mention that the word “science” doesn’t appear at all in the manifesto. However, they do have some pretty far reaching science pledges, such as this one. (emphasis throughout is all theirs.)
Immediately ban causing harm to animals (including but not only primates) in research, testing and education, and invest in the development of alternatives to animal experiments.
I’m not entirely sure I have the words to describe what I think of this pledge. Use of animals in research is clearly necessary for progress in medical research (as are humans and human tissue), despite being a fairly terrible reality. I think the BBC sums up the arguments in both directions quite well, particularly the quote from William DH Carey in a letter to the BMJ. This pledge would halt some aspects of medical research; killing people and disadvantaging us as a nation. To me this alone means I could not vote for a Green candidate. Strong regulation is one thing, but an outright ban is preposterous.
Next an onslaught again genetic modification (GM).
work for a complete ban on genetically modified food in Europe.
Here we have a technology that could help end some of the more dubious farming methods that their manifesto also discusses at length, and yet the Green Party are against it. The mind boggles.
Finally, they have this beauty on CAM.
Make available on the NHS complementary medicines that are cost-effective and have been shown to work.
Another “words fail me” moment. Cost-effective and proven to work, yes. We call that evidence-based medicine, though, not complementary. I think Tim Minchin says this best in Storm:
You know what they call “alternative medicine”
That’s been proved to work?
In the interest of balance, I tried to find some science policies that I thought were positive, but alas there were none. Education is at least slightly better.
Move towards ending the need for private education by creating a programme of voluntary assimilation of private schools into the state sector. Schools that remain in the private sector would have charitable status removed and would pay all relevant taxes, such as VAT.
Finally, something I agree on. I feel strongly that education should be provided on a merit-based system, so that the brightest, not the wealthiest, get the best education. It is both best for the best individuals to be well-educated and for society who will eventually reap their benefit from the output of our brightest. Making it hard for private schools to operate is a step in the right direction.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great things in the Green Party manifesto to be excited about such as pledges on:
- ban sale of eggs from battery hens
- maintain and extend blood sports ban
- increase spend on waste management and recycling
and other both predictable and laudable pledges that you would expect from the Green Party. Sadly just not in the areas that are strongest to me.
Overall: Pitiful on science, a party I could not vote for.