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  • Writer's pictureAvesta Afshari-Mehr

Scientists for Labour 2022 Parliamentary Event (by Avesta Afshari-Mehr/Izzy Creed)

Last month, Scientists for Labour had the honour to host an event in Parliament with a variety of excellent talks on a range of fascinating topics - kindly supported by Chi Onwurah and her office; Ian Murray; and Stella Creasy.

The day began with a meet and greet of Scientists for Labour Executive Committee members with a number of prominent MPs. This session ended with a talk by Chi on Labours Science policy including Labour promise of 3% GDP spend on R&D, Conservatives distorting the figures of their current R&D spend, and the issues of the UK currently being out of European funding sources.

Chi’s talk was followed by a thought provoking session on ‘delivering economic security from future pandemics’ chaired by SfL Executive Committee member Sanjush Dalmia. SfL was kindly joined by three leading experts Dr Tom Gardiner, Sophie Rose and Matthew Burnett, alongside Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central. Hilary Benn shared his experience as a frontbench MP, including at a pandemic planning exercise for a Spanish flu like pandemic.

The session was followed by a talk on ‘Nature based solutions to climate change’ chaired by Connor. We were kindly joined by three experts in the field: Alexandre Chausson, Will Prescott, Chris Sandom. The discussion included a discussion on the British agriculture industry, the inevitable discussion on the controversies of rewilding in Scotland, as well as why nature based solutions are integral to the UK ability to tackle climate change.

The afternoon session started with a discussion on ‘Science Education from Early Years to Higher/Further Education’. Dr Liz Hind shared her experience working for the British Science Association on a project called the STEM Clubs Network, whose funding was cut by the coalition government. She shared her experience for starting outreach and access projects early, and the importance of developing a child’s interest in KS3, and local connections. Juna Sathian and Izzy Creed then shared their experience of working on access projects within several higher education institutes.

The day then went on to a discussion on how we can increase equality and diversity in science and were joined by Siân Tohill-Martin. We discussed how access was not the only reason for a lack of diversity, and how culture within certain areas was a huge issue to tackle. We also received comments from the audience on the lack of equality/diversity in certain institutions and universities.

Finally we discussed the issues with current research funding especially post-Brexit. Gurpreet shared his experience as a British researcher at CERN struggling to find grants following the UK’s exit from the EU common market.

Throughout the day we had a number of Parliamentary Labour Party members attend sessions, e.g. Lord Davies of Brixton; and Bill Esterson MP. Many parliamentary staffers also came, including staffers from Tan Dhesi’s office.

Overall, it was a fantastic event, and we intend to hold many more of such events in the future.

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