Yesterday I argued that with growth rising to the top of the political agenda, scientists, hi-tech industries and other parts of the knowledge economy have a lot more political leverage than they realise. Today, thanks to Stian Westlake over at NESTA, I have some evidence.
Here are a few slides on “innovation” taken from some attitudinal polling compiled by Frank Lunz – Republican strategist, frequent guest on Fox news and a man who advised the Bushes to emphasise the “lack of scientific certainty” in the climate change debate. The report is based on polling done in the US in 2007 for state governors, so its relevance to the UK is suggestive rather than compelling. Nonetheless, its suggestions are striking.
1. Is innovation important to voters when they think about the economy?
2. Is the government responsible for innovation?
Note: the Federal government was not an option respondents had.
3. Do voters support increased spending on innovation?
4. How does spending on innovation compare with other pro-growth policy options in voters minds?
So this – ahem, US polling from 2007 – suggests that yes, innovation does resonate with the voters. Even before growth became such a big deal.
Thanks also to the Timess Mark Henderson for pointing me at this report from Rachel Griffiths at our own Institute for Fiscal Studies which echoes the strongly pro-knowledge economy themes that have been appearing at the OECD and elsewhere. Look out for Marks book “The Geek Manifesto” next year, which will cover some of this territory.