Some time last year I asked what scientists might want from the political parties.

A few days ago Jennifer Nickel drew my attention to an article on idealog, which calls for ’an independent body to cost, and analyse, the policy platforms of parties at the start of the election cycle.’

This is suggestion is in similar vein to my suggestion of NZ Science Party and the advisory groups present in the English system. For science policy, the English have the Science Advisory Council; over organisations cover various areas of medicine and so on.

One thought I shared privately at that time was that it might help if the political parties standing for election were obliged to deposit key policies* at some set time ahead of the election, say 6 weeks before election day. The aim would be to give sufficient time that the policies could be throughly examined and to encourage that election ‘debate’ be over the understanding of the policies.

It would hopefully also encourage policies to be based on substance.

Currently we see parties offer promises; they’re even called that. Politicians try out-compete each other over these promises, but they’re a bit meaningless unless you can deconstruct them.

Call me a cynic, but you’d swear some election promises are withheld as long as possible, not only to try trump their opposition late in the election cycle, but perhaps also so that they might not be examined too closely before election day!

Sound examination of policy takes time. Enabling time for those with appropriate expertise to dig in an examine what is being offered and raise in public any issues with the offering might encourage the run up to elections to be based more on substance and less on showmanship.

I don’t doubt that this solution is idealistic, but the issue is real enough.


* Health, Education, etc.

Other articles on Code for life:

Especially for sunny days

What do scientists want from politicians?

When is a scientific paper political campaigning?

Homeopathy — practical remedies to address it?

Haemophilia — towards a cure using genetic engineering

Aww, crap.