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Promotion of British Science

Comment 5th July 2010

We should enact special tax provision to ensure science is brought to the forefront of life in Britain where currently it is sidelined into an also-ran role for geeks.

The way we can do this is by providing science (and engineering) with special tax privelages for those individuals and companies actively 'doing' it. All the way from the schools and colleges up to Nobel science prize-winners we need to support it.

E.G how about no college fees and free loans to physics and chemistry students to stimulate interest. When they take up employment in 'real' industry here in the UK (but not if they get spirited away to America), give them a lower tax rate for the duration to live and work for a British-owned company. Likewise preferential loan and tax rates for enginering companies. Its all very well making interesting TV programs about it, but you have to back it up with real financial incentives. By the same token we need to discourage the blue-sky, and 'humanities' -type subjects. We can't afford luxuries which don't create industrial strength or generate real wealth.

Why does this matter?

It shouldn't need to be stated, but here are the reasons:

Modern science has its very origins in Britain starting (argueably) with Sir Isaac Newton, because we are especially good at it. The British (and our emigre cousins in the USA ,19th through the 20th century) were, principally, the people behind every advance in science and engineering. Thats how we came to rule the world, after all. Political and military genius is all very well, but without the technical nuts and bolts to back you up?

We were ahead of the USA in science research and innovation right up to WW2, but of necessity had to hand our secrets over to the Americans so that the Nazis didn't got hold of them (also, Churchill was hoping the 'bribe' would would persuade them to join in. But no, they waited until Pearl Harbour in 1941. Not that I'm bitter or anything!).

Science is what made Britain 'Great' in the first place and is the means by which we can be restore our depleted industrial position in the world of nations. We have, ashamedly and alarmingly, slipped to 6th place in the world.

There was a pattern early on whereby Britain did the basic research and the Americans made most of the money out of it. Nowadays we still do a lot of the research, but now the whole world shares in the spoils of our efforts and we don't.

For example, MRI scanners etc. invented by Oxford professors, I believe, now made in Germany. How do I know? I saw the name SIEMENS on every bit of high tech radiography equipment at my local hospital. OK, bad example, since it was a German (Rontgen) in 1895 who originally discovered x-rays, but you know what I mean.

We are the people who invented and built railway locos for the whole world. So, why are we buying trains from Japan now? Ships, the same story. Practically everything we did – the same story. It was engineers from British Leyland who went over to Japan to teach them how to make cars (Thinks: perhaps Toyota need a revisit?).

OK , I know we had really stupid, childish industrial relations problems in the 1970s, at a critical time, but we are grown-ups now. We have to kick-start our industrial genius for engineering, otherwise we are truly finished as a nation. We've sold our souls to fly-boys and shysters in the finance world – and look at us now. Its not too late, we still have the DNA for innovation and science. Rolls Royce are still doing it, and how! What a fabulous collection of individuals. They were nearly sunk in 1970 after developing the RB211 engine, now they build the best Jet engines in the world – and have the order books to prove it. Britain at its very best.

We need many more shining examples like the boys in Derby. They deserve a special tax-break as a reward for showing the rest of Britain the way forward. We should reward these heroes of the industrial (r)evolution and their kind, instead of lining failed-bankers pockets and paying pen-pushers huge redundancies for doing nothing much but whinge.

C'mon CamClegg, get your priorites right – and do whats right by Britain.


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