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Science policy from Thatcher to Johnson

Image: The Royal Society [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Increased funding can end the longstanding political struggle between pure and applied, says David Willetts

In September 1988, then prime minister Margaret Thatcher gave a speech to the Royal Society in which she set out a significant shift in UK science policy. Support for near-market research and industrial R&D would be cut, and previously unloved exercises in curiosity-driven science such as the European nuclear physics laboratory Cern were embraced. 

“The commercial development of scientific principles should mainly be the task of industry,” said Thatcher.

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