There’s another election coming up and, whatever the outcome, we’ll all (hopefully) still be doing our jobs and waiting for the situation to improve.
Something the government could do to lay foundations for education, industries and economic growth in the UK is to fund science. Over the last 2 decades, they’ve really let this slide. Enter #TellThemSiV, the new campaign from Science is Vital, to do just that…
Tell Them Science is Vital
In just a few weeks, Britain goes to the polls to vote in a new government. This is obviously a crucial time for science funding and policy.
That is why Science Is Vital needs you to contact your MP or parliamentary candidate.
Since 2010, the science budget, despite having been protected from the worst of the austerity measures by the ring-fence we fought for, will nevertheless have shrunk in real terms by up to 20%.
In fact, it has now dropped below 0.5% of GDP for the first time in 20 years. If we don’t act now, it could take generations to recover.
In parallel, near-sighted policies on immigration, and inaction on the precariousness of the scientific career structure, threaten the day-to-day business of science, and those who depend on it.
Since 2013, Science is Vital has been campaigning to get the UK to increase the science budget to the G8 average of 0.8% of GDP.
Head to the Scienceogram to find out more about how the science budget squares up to other public spending in the UK, and how it relates to the problems we are trying to solve and our performance in relation to other countries.
What can we do?
To coincide with British Science Week, Science is Vital is proposing we Tell Them Science is Vital. During this week, tell everyone you know—your colleagues, your friends and family, your social media contacts—to write to their MP and parliamentary candidates.
Writing to your MP is one of the most powerful things you can do as a citizen. MPs take letters from their constituents very seriously, especially if they concern local issues and arrive in great numbers!
Old-fashioned written letters might be somewhat more effective than emails, but emails are still better than nothing if you’re pushed for time.
Will it really make a difference?
But don’t stop there: you don’t have to be a working scientist, or a patient desperate for a cure, to think science is vital or to get involved. This week, tell everyone you know — colleagues, friends, family, on social media…
Tell a story; share your passion!
- If you’re a scientist, describe why your research is important
- If there is a local research institute in your constituency, explain how important it is to your local economy (how many people does it employ, for example)
- If you’re a patient or someone carer or have lost someone special, say how important you think research into their condition is
- Use our handy cheatsheet to let your MP know just how little we spend on science compared with other developed nations.
- There are also posters you can download and print out and display at work, student hall… wherever!
- Ask them to endorse our campaign to increase public funding of science to 0.8% of GDP
- And don’t forget to stress the economic and human benefits of maintaining a strong scientific base
Do let SiV know what you said by copying and pasting your letter in the comments on the website, or by cc’ing any emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet with the hashtag #TellThemSiV.
Nuts and bolts
Use the Parliament website to find out who your MP is, and how to contact them. Again, MPs pay attention to emails from their constituents, but good old-fashioned letters carry more weight. You can reach any standing MP by writing to them at:
(name of MP) MP
House of Commons
You can also reach the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000.
NB: Dissolution of Parliament will be on 30 March 2015; there will then be no MPs until after the election, and you will have to write to your parliamentary candidates.
Who are my candidates?
Enter your postcode into the pink box at About My Vote and it will give you the contact details of your local elections office—they should be able to let you know who is standing for election and how to contact them.
The campaigning leaflets that come through your letterbox will also tell you how to get in touch with parliamentary candidates.
Yes! If you have time, you could go along to one of your MP’s surgeries. These should be regular events, and will give you the opportunity to grill them in person.
Remember to quiz candidates on their attitude towards science!
Last but not least, please spread the word. Contact your friends, colleagues and anyone else on your radar – reblog! – with a link to this page. Have a letter-writing party – everything to support UK science!
Guardian – “UK research funding slumps below 0.5% GDP – putting us last in the G8”
THE – “Public research spending ‘falls below 0.5% of GDP’”
The Scienceogram – delve into UK’s science spend in detail
Prof Peter Coles, In The Dark – “Science is Vital, so don’t let it be strangled”