UK Election and #SciVote (1)

Just because I am a geek, I decided to do a little exercise of my ownm even before we even knew what the government in the UK will be. I tried to find out how many scientists were in the new Parliament!

First of all for “after-election” articles related to science vote from people that actually know about this topic please click here , here and here.

What I did is that I took the list of MPs published in the Eureka Zone Times paper by Mark Henderson last week. Given this list, I added next to each constituency the candidate that won. For those for whom there was information on science background in THAT list I kept this information.

You can find both the original list and the “after election” list here.

So there are 2 massive problems with this dataset:
1) not all 650 constituents are on there and
2) when we say that an MP has a science background as Mark Henderson mentioned

  1. “we don’t mean to suggest that you need to have a background in science to become an effective Commons advocate for it” and
  2. a background in science does not necessarily mean that an MP will be actively engaged in it, or promote it in Parliament.

So you could say “what is the point of all the graphs you made?”. As a scientist I do feel very awkward about the plots that I will show you, but because I have already spent too much time on this, and because I do not really have the time to go look in detail all the backgrounds of all 650 MPs, I decided to post them anyway. In addition, I am pretty sure that the people who are dealing with these issues (like the authors of the papers I mentioned above) will be doing this work anyway, so it will be a bit redundant if I did something like this. Especially since I do not have knowledge of the “political history” of each MP (e.g. what bills s/he voted and so on.

What I am saying is, I am aware that the following plots are not very well evidence-based and that they could lead to misinterpretation. If you are ok with this please read on, otherwise please leave this post (hopefully not the whole blog :P).

OK so here we go….

Out of 155 constituancies (I found a double in the list from the Times article), 70 had a “science background” and the last one for which right now we do not have the results is likely to be the 71st that is mentioned in the new article by Mark Henderson.

Out of the 70 MPs with “science background” 36 have degrees in the “hard sciences” i.e. physics, maths, chemistry, biology etc, 19 had degrees in engineering, 9 are medical doctors or dentists and for the rest it is not specified even though they are stated as having a “science background”. Most of these belong to the Science and Technology Committees or held science related roles in the past (correct me if I am wrong since once again I did not have the time to check this: Graham Stringer, Malcolm Wicks, Adam Afriyie, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Rob Flello).

So then I wanted to see what is the distribution of MPs in the different parties once they have been sorted according to background:

And then I looked at each party separately:

The results are not unexpected given all those articles I have been reading the last two weeks on which I will report soon (hopefully). LIBDEMs is the party who has more MPs with science background” than with “non-science or unknown background”. Labour has more or less equal proportions whereas the Conservatives (and other parties) have a higher proportion of MPs with non-science or unknown backgrounds.

So this is my little research. Of course any comments are MORE THAN WELCOME!!!
I repeat that the information I had was only for 155 constituencies out of 650 and that having a “science background” does not make you necessarily more likely to “defend science”. I am not claiming that this is a complete research.
But the results are interesting nevertheless! 🙂

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