Lord Rees on the Threat to UK Science

In case you missed the comments by Lord Rees on Newsnight in the wake of the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prizes for Physics, here is a video.

Martin is always impeccably polite but I sense he must have been outraged by the statements made by Home Secretary Amber Rudd at the Conservative Party Conference this week, some of which seem to have been taking directly from Mein Kampf. Prior to this interview, the most extreme word I’ve ever hard Martin use was “reprehensible” – and that on an occasion when he was clearly angry. His use of the word “deplorable” here is very significant.

Quite apart the threat to science, I have to admit I’m extremely worried about the direction this country is taking. Perhaps someone should tell Prime Minister Theresa May that the referendum wasn’t about leaving the League of Nations and that this isn’t 1933. The parallels with Germany are striking. In that case it didn’t end with the identification and deportation of foreign workers. Yesterday Theresa May stated that anyone who describes themselves as a “Citizen of the World” is really a “Citizen of Nowhere”. I’ve never felt less at home in my own country than I do now.

A few days before the referendum a wrote a post that included this:

Of course I’m not saying that all those who want the UK to Leave the EU are fascists. Far from it. Many – indeed the majority – are reasonable, civilised people. But like it or not, if you vote Leave you’re voting the way the far right want you to vote. I for one will not take a single step in that direction. Fascism only needs a foot in the door. I fear that the domestic political consequences of BrExit will give it far more than that. Once they get hold of it, we’ll never get our country back.

My fear is even more real now than it was then.


7 Responses to “Lord Rees on the Threat to UK Science”

  1. The Tory party conference rattled a lot of people (myself included). I’ve never really been afraid for the political future of the country before now.

  2. Adrian Burd Says:

    Theresa May is starting to slowly reveal her true colours. Over here in the US we are little more fortunate in that Trump is not intelligent enough to mask his true intentions, but sadly he is making his vile views “acceptable” and “main stream” and paving the way for someone like May to be a viable contender in 4 years time.

  3. There is an interview on the Nobel site with one of the chemistry laureates where he says that he left the UK because of the emphasis on impact and applied research and less respect and support for basic research.

    • When conducting an encore for the Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle’s standing joke was to play a piece by the well known English composer Händel. 🙂

      More seriously, someone (I forget who), using Händel as an example, said that if a person is referred to by nationality, then would make more sense to refer to the country of death, not of birth, especially in the case of someone like Händel who voluntarily spent most of his career abroad.

      • telescoper Says:

        Indeed, and by choosing to live in England Händel undoubtedly enriched our culture.

      • To some extent, musicians at that time were like scientists today, spending careers in several countries, following the money, fame, or at least reasonably good jobs. Händel went from Germany to Italy to Germany to England (simplified version). Of course, the English kings at the time were also German. This is how Herschel (originally a musician) ended up in England.

  4. I wrote about this to our MP a few days ago. We seem to be reliving the 1930’s (perhaps not accidentally, after another financial crisis). The Rudd statement on reporting on foreigners could have come from the 1933 Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. It is easy to start off hatred of people who are perceived a different. It is far more difficult to end it.

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