Monday, 24 March 2008

Why Gordon Brown should NOT allow a free vote on the 'Frankenstein Bill'.

Opposition to the bill has been more about political theatre than moral or scientific debate.

As an MP you are elected to represent the best wishes of the people who elect you. You are not elected to pursue a religious crusade against the pursuit of science and medicine

In fact, if we wanted to be run by the will of Popes and Monarchs then the House of Commons would never have been built and democracy would never have been sought.

So if members of the cabinet want to resign over this bill then they should do so. If the creeds in their Bibles are more important than the future of their people, then they should do the honourable thing and remove themselves from politics.

Because despite what Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Co may believe, this country is not a land under god, but a people under their own collective will. We have spent centuries removing our country from the grip of religion and we are not about to surrender it now.

But at least these fundamentalists have the excuse of faith. Free market small-staters such as Paul Staines are also pretending outrage at this bill. Outrage at legislation which could extend hugely benificial and profitable scientific developments to our country. 

Future generations will not care about their hypocrisy and opportunism, nor the political difficulties of the present government. But they will care for the science and medicine that killing off this bill would delay.

So if Gordon Brown has any courage he should stand up to his cabinet, stand up to the fundamentalists and stand up to the Luddites. Because while religion has allayed the miseries of famine and disease for millennia, it is only with science that these evils can be truly matched.


tory boys never grow up said...

I agree that we shouldn't allow religion, and other mumbo-jumbo, to take precedence over science, but we do need to be conscious that the history of science is full of scientists promising wonderful benefits and hiding error behind complexity which us mere mortals are unable to understand.

When something doesn't feel natural (e.g. putting human genes in animal eggs) past experience (e.g with feeding cows to cows) - I do feel that the hurdle needs to be raised for scientists in explaining why what they propose is safe to the general public. And I'm afraid I'm not hearing such clear explanations from scientists at present. For example - when the stem cells are produced from the hybrid embryos how can we be sure that some of genetic material from the animal eggs are not carried through into the stem cells and ultimately the end recipient.

I was always told that if someone cannot explain clearly what they were doing - it was usually because they didn't know what they were doing - and if you look at the great scientists this was not usually an insurmountable barrier. I don't want to stand in the way of science - but on this one I still remain to be convinced.

The Tory Troll said...

You make some interesting points, but the history of science is full of accidental discoveries and unexpected results.

My own view is that on the whole experimentation is a good in and of itself. Sometimes there are good results and sometimes bad, but i think it is wrong to prevent discovery just because the results are unclear in advance.

There are exceptions of course, experimentation which causes obvious adverse harm and pain should be prevented. However, I don't think that this is the case here.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

This bill is of grave concern to the disabled community, it is opening the door to a policy of eugenics (IMHO) What's equally disturbing is the lack of debate about that side of the bill.
There is an ever increasing desire to eradicate disease/disability with a seeming lack of understanding that nature makes its own mistakes for its own reasons. To attempt to eradicate as opposed to ameliorate is wrong.
Bendy Girl

The Tory Troll said...

Again you make an interesting point, but the bill is very far from endorsing eugenics. The problem with the 'thin end of the wedge' argument is that all benefits are removed for the sake of avoiding future problems.

Besides, this science will be developed regardless of whether Britain has a hand in it. At least if we are at the forefront of it here then we can oversee it in a way that would not be possible in other countries.

Overall though I agree that there are big difficulties that potentially lie ahead (genetic profiling etc) but I don't believe that we should run away from them. Like nuclear science and genetically modified crops, these developments are going to occur whether we like them or not. In my own view it is better to deal with them and protect ourselves from the possible negatives openly, rather than passing the buck to others.