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STEM: a Labour of love for Corbyn? 18.09.15

Jeremy Corbyn Takes The Lead In The Labour Leadership Race

 

While the rest of the political world is still dusting itself off from the first (nearly) full week of Jeremy Corby’s premiership of the Labour Party, here at Proof we’ve been doing a bit of digging into where he stands on the subjects close to our heart: STEM. Many of our clients, past and present, can be impacted by shifts in the political wind towards these industries, both positively and negatively, so an understanding of where Corbyn stands on these issues can be crucial to their success.

What do we know so far? This may be playing it safe, but his vision in this area is a little blurry. If I was to be a glass-half-full type of person, I would look towards his letter to Scientists for Labour. He references a lack of investment in STEM and describes an “ecology of support structures” that he says will encourage funding in science and industry, going so far as to talk of a national investment bank. Whether there is a lack of investment is not for me to say, but anything that gets more money into STEM is a plus in my book.

This focus on investment extends beyond the financial, with a “life-long national education service” making it as one of his core manifesto policies. Elsewhere he has written that this is to “build and expand the sectors of the future, with the skilled workforce that requires”; again, an admirable goal and one that I’m sure the STEM community looks upon favourably.

But what if my glass was half empty? While he is eager to support the sciences, the much-reported signing of a motion expressing dismay at the lack of investigation into homeopathy does raise questions, most glaringly in his scientific literacy. Having a passion to develop scientific industry is great, but he needs to be able to understand how inventions and technologies work and, also, why they work. If Corbyn is not interested in getting involved with the proof and understanding that underpin scientific discovery and innovation, he will only be able to do so much. But, again, there are examples that show him to be humble enough to weigh up the evidence and alter his opinions based on new information (a very rare thing among politicos these days, it would seem).

So, in keeping with scientific method and accuracy, it is easy to see why Proof is sitting firmly on the fence. There are positive noises but also disquieting ones, a feeling that many share about a huge range of his opinions, not just those he holds about STEM. While we wait for him to reveal his true colours on the matter, let’s at least be glad that, as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, we have a champion of the digital and technology industries in Tom Watson. If Corbyn does fulfill the Conservative dream and become a swivel-eyed loon, then at least Watson should do a passable job at protecting our industry.

I guess that makes me a glass half full kind of guy.

If you have any questions or fancy starting a debate on this, you can email me on david.cohen@proofcommunication.com