Welcome to the Genomics Forum blog

Based at The University of Edinburgh, the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum is part of the ESRC Genomics Network and pioneers new ways to promote and communicate social research on the contemporary life sciences.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Getting our hands dirty

For nearly a year I’ve been planning the Genomics Network’s involvement in the Party Conferences – Green Party, Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservatives. I’m delighted to see this project coming to fruition with all four fringe events taking place in the next six weeks.

Getting the Network involved in the Party Conferences has been a personal goal for me since coming into post as the Forum’s Policy Research Fellow just over two years ago. Before joining the Forum I worked as a parliamentary researcher and political campaigner in Australia, as well as for a time in government policymaking. I strongly believe that influencing political parties is crucial if the Network is to make an impact on UK government policy across the full range of issues we work on – from agriculture, to pharmaceuticals, to bio-terrorism.

Why do I think reaching political parties is important? For a start, as we’ve seen so recently in the UK, governments change! With them, so does policy, especially on controversial issues. Having worked in government as well, I know only too well that political decisions can result in changes to policy that have little to do with the best advice of civil servants. Reaching government policymakers is certainly crucial in ensuring the impact of our research, but we also need to remember that policy is influenced (sometimes heavily) by politics.

It may seem very obvious, but all politicians – from ministers, to parliamentary committee members, to the humblest backbencher – have enormous personal influence over decisions that affect our everyday lives. Some may see engaging with political parties as ill-advised, if not unacceptable. I firmly believe it is not just acceptable, but essential.

The Genomics Network fringe events in the 2010 Party Conferences are as follows:

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