Brown faced with student protests

first_imgHe said, “some say that now is not the time to invest, but the bottom line is that the downturn is no time to slow down our investment in science but to build more vigorously for the future. And so we will not allow science to become a victim of the recession – but rather focus on developing it as a key element of our path to recovery.”Brown also highlighted the importance of quality science education. He said, “one of the biggest stumbling blocks in science education is that in the comprehensive sector only a minority of schools offer three separate sciences as opposed to combined science qualifications.” He added that the government’s aim is to double the number of pupils in the state schools taking triple science by 2014.Krisztina Csortea, an Exeter student, commented, “overall it was an interesting hour, made even more so by the mounted police and the protesters outside. I think it was very appropriate to talk about science, as we were celebrating Darwin just a few weeks ago, and this topic was much less controversial than Gaza. He also made the speech even more relevant by mentioning the credit crunch or animal testing.”Annabelle Chapman, a first year PPE student said, “I think the lecture showed Gordon Brown in a positive light; he looked better than on television, and though unremarkable, the speech was delivered naturally and sometimes filled the Sheldonian with polite laughter. At the same time, there was a sense of ”don’t mention the Economics-word,” let’s talk about mixing chemicals in a test tube – at least that works.”She added, “I was a bit disappointed by the choice of topic; it would have been more appropriate for a Nobel Prize winner, who could have shared his insight. A politician, who knows nothing about the reality of being a scientist, was bound to give the standard answer of ‘pride in our scientific heritage,’ followed by a pledge to maintain it via ‘investment’ and ‘innovation’.”Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics and Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford welcomed the Prime Minister’s policies. He added, “I personally was really interested in what he had to say about scientists rising to the challenge of communicating their ideas and discoveries. I know my colleagues at Oxford are already doing an enormous amount of work in this area – something that is crucial if we are to ensure that people are equipped to take part in debates in which the role of science is central.”Prior to the lecture, the Prime Minister visited Oxford’s new Biochemistry building, where he met scientists from across the University for a roundtable discussion. After the lecture, he joined various members of the University at a reception in the Divinity Schools. Gordon Brown’s speech in the Sheldonian was marred by protests, as demonstrators chanted audibly outside while the Prime Minister lectured on the importance of scientific research.The protesters gathered to express anger at government bank bail outs and UK foreign policy. They chanted, “free, free Iraq” and “education for the masses, not just for the ruling classes” throughout the lecture.Emily Dreyfus, one of the protesters, said, “given that in our very own city 850 auto workers lost their jobs last week at Cowley Mini plant due to the current government’s catastrophic role in and mishandling of the global economic crisis, it was ironic that Gordon Brown felt qualified to give a lecture on the economy.“BMW Mini’s profits have in fact increased this year, therefore they have no justification for firing these people, but rather were simply acting in an opportunistic manner to cut corners and reduce costs at a time when they could claim it was necessary because of the credit crunch.”She added, “I’m sure Gordon Brown could hear that we were protesting, and it was important too for the people on the street to be aware that we care about these domestic and international issues. We will take action to protest against war criminals such as Gordon Brown who are responsible and demand they change their policies to reflect the opinions of their electorate.”Dominic Williams, one of the protesters, said, “we got no response from Brown or officials other than requests to be quieter and a mixed reaction from people passing by.”But he hailed the demonstration as a success, “we were loud and noisy so a lot of people knew we were there including Gordon Brown, apparently we were audible during his speech. “Brown’s speech stressed the importance of scientific research as a route out of the current economic crisis. He pledged to make long-term science funding a “national priority” and to increase the status of science in education. last_img read more