MPs respond to The Geek Manifesto

Over the past few weeks, it’s been great to see so many positive responses from MPs who’ve received a copy of The Geek Manifesto from a constituent. A fair number are reading it already, with others looking to do so over the summer recess.

Here are a few I’ve gathered already. I’ll also post a collection of letters sent to Dave Watts, who started the Pledgebank campaign.

Please do add more in comments.

First up is Jenny Willott MP, who highlighted the book as her summer reading on The World at One. Listen here.

Barry Sheerman (@bsheermanmp) tweeted that he was already enjoying the book:

Just getting in to The Geek Manifesto- Why Science Matters good stuff so far @GuardianEdu
Sent 20 hours ago
Twitter for iPad

Hilary Minor heard back from Jeremy Hunt:

I’ve had such a great reply from Jeremy Hunt, M.P. He said:

Dear Hilary,
Following yesterday’s email the book has now landed on my desk As the Minister responsible for technology, I am sometimes called a geek myself! So I will read the Geek Manifesto with great interest. Thank you for so kindly sending it to me.

Best wishes,
Hilary Minor

Richard Chiswell heard from Damian Green:

Letter received from Damian Green MP:

Thank you very much for sending me a copy of The Geek Manifesto.

I have had this recommended by friends of mine and I will read it with great interest.
Richard Chiswell

My editor, Susanna Wadeson, heard from Philip Dunne:

Letter received from Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, thanking me for his copy of the book: ‘I agree that knowledge of good science has been under represented in parliament in recent years. As the Government Whip to the Education Dept, I can reassure you that the Government is seeking to reinvigorate teaching and our examination system, and the good news is that more students are already seeking to undertake the three sciences at GCSE that in recent years’. I’ll write back to explain that it is not simply a matter of improving the scientific education available but also about bringing the scientific method to bear on policy-making. He needs to read the book. Good that he took the trouble to reply though.
Susanna Wadeson

Jane Ellison MP wrote to Dave Cross:

Today I got a really nice handwritten letter from my MP, Jane Ellison (Com, Battersea).

She thanked me very much for the letter and said that she already has one self-described “hardline rationalist” working in her office.

She said that she planned to take the book home to read over the weekend.

I’ve had a lot of contact with her in the two years since she became my MP, but this is the first time she has taken the time to write a letter by hand.
Dave Cross

Sean Ellis (@sean_t_ellis) tweeted:

Nice letter this morning from @JDjanogly MP thanking me for copy of The Geek Manifesto by @markgfh. Something to read during recess, he says
Sent 3 days ago
Twitter for Android

Iain Duncan Smith was less interested:

My MP, Iain Duncan Smith, acknowledged receipt of the book (well, his staff did…!), but has turned down the offer of a meeting to discuss it owing to being a busy Minister…

Just sayin’…
Prateek Buch

And finally Martin Horwood MP, who introduced me at the Cheltenham Science Festival, wrote a nice piece in his local newspaper column:

WAS I ambushed by the Science Festival? In a good way, yes.

I was introducing Mark Henderson, author of The Geek Manifesto which argues for a closer and better relationship between science and politics. He suggests not only that politicians need better understanding of matters scientific, but that the scientific method itself – evidence-based, keen on testing and flexible when presented with evidence of error – could improve policymaking no end.

It’s an important message and, of course, I was the target as well as the warm-up act. What about all the other MPs? Only one is actually a working scientist – Cambridge Lib Dem Dr Julian Huppert, with whom I shared an office for several months. He used to have unintelligible phone conversations about genetics and the sex lives of fruit flies.

The rest of us are all to receive a copy of Mr Henderson’s book, each one paid for by a science-friendly constituent. Mine is in the post, courtesy of one Maggie Cunliffe. Thank you, wherever you are.

About markgfh

Mark Henderson is Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health by supporting the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Geek Manifesto contains his personal views, not those of the Wellcome Trust. Before joining the Trust in January 2012, Mark was Science Editor of The Times, where he built a reputation as one of Britain's foremost science journalists and commentators. Mark's first book, 50 Genetics Ideas You Really Need to Know, was published in 2009 by Quercus
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5 Responses to MPs respond to The Geek Manifesto

  1. Dave says:

    Compare the above with Nick Brown MP. Sent the book on 20th June with a covering note – no response. Sent an email with additional questions on the 3rd July to be met with silence. Decided to call in to his surgery on the 14th July (Nick: “I don’t understand what you want me to do”, me: Just answer my email”) and sent another copy then. As of today, no prizes for guessing, still utter silence from my MP. What more can I do to get him to engage?

  2. I think my MP ( Chris White ) deserves some praise for his response. I called him out on twitter when he was slow to acknowledge receipt of my posted book. However his response that followed not only acknowledged the book but was also an invitation to a meeting to discuss it. As I am “merely” an average scientist such a meeting did not guarantee any PR points. I thus am willing to assume he met me for genuine reasons and think he deserves credit for this.

  3. Matt Maddock says:

    I read this book over summer and it made me think that maybe some politicians would read it and and they might ask their parties to be more careful. Now we have a Health Secretary who believes in homoeopathy… Maybe there should be a geek lobbying company…

  4. I tweeted Julian Huppert a while back about Lords Reform, I wanted a more meritocratic Lords as oppossed to the more democratic one proposed by the Lib Dems. He linked me to a paper showing that Commons actually had more specialists in certain areas than Lords, but I still couldn’t see how new party-politicians would be better than say more field-experts for overseeing legislation.

    I am only now finding out this book exists and will be swiftly buying it as it sounds like the mantra of my political beliefs!

  5. Hi folks,
    So far very good response to trying a similar project on the MLAs in Stormont (Northern Ireland). We have 108 MLAs, 56 people signed up, and a FaceBook group to get the whole thing running. Sure come along and join in! – the more the merrier, and in Northern Ireland the potential to do something amazing is so strong.

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