Greens and Science

At the time of the European election last year, there was some debate in the blogosphere about the Green Party’s attitude to science. Holfordwatch picked up on a report which said that the Greens supported the continued use of “alternative medicine” in the NHS. Rational people, of course, gave up all idea of voting for them.

To their credit, the Greens responded to this by clarifying (and, actually, seeming to completely drop) some of these policies. In this Q&A in the Guardian, their press officer, Scott Redding, was asked:

If the balance of evidence suggests that a treatment does not perform any better than placebo, should it be supported by the NHS?

He replied:

The short answer is No. Our policy is that any medicine or treatment available on the NHS should be backed up by scientific evidence. Some new treatments, and some currently available on the NHS, will pass this test, others will not.

Of course, you might well think that it doesn’t matter what the Green Party thinks on this as they’ll never have the power to enact their policies. And you’d be right to think that.

But they do have an MP now. Caroline Lucas is the MP for Brighton Pavilion. And whilst she’s not exactly driving government policy, she does have the same ways to make her views known as all other MPs, including signing Early Day Motions.

So, given the clear direction indicated by Scott Redding, it’s disappointing to see the she has signed one of David Tredinnick’s nonsense EDMs on homeopathy (as discussed previously on this blog).

On one hand, the Greens clearly say that they won’t support medical treatments without scientific evidence to support them. And then their first ever MP goes and gives her support to something that is on a the same level as witchcraft. If I was one of the enlightened people who voted for her back in May, I’d be feeling pretty pissed off about now.

I had hoped that, at least, the Green Party would prove themselves to be above the lies and spin that characterise so much of British politics. I’m really disappointed to see those hopes dashed.

Update: Lucas has received a lot of comment over this on Twitter in the last few hours. She has posted what I can only assume is supposed to be an explanation for her actions:

EDM is about lack of BMA’s consultation & argues that local NHS better placed to know patient needs, based on objective clinical assessment

It’s nonsense of course. Tredinnick is a well-known parliamentary advocate for homeopathy. His EDM is purely about supporting the provision of quackery on the NHS. Tredinnick is deliberately inventing scientific controversy where none exists. The science is settled. Homeopathy does not work.

If patients have been told that homeopathy is worth investigating, then their doctors should make it clear to them that they have been misled. Doctors should not be encouraging this delusion.

2 replies on “Greens and Science”

I notice that that EDM was also signed by MPs from the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Scottish National parties. Does that mean that rational people shouldn’t vote for any of those parties either?[But yes, as a Green Party member I’m not very happy about Caroline signing that EDM.]

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