Skeptical Voter Questionnaire
In March 2011, in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament general election, Smith was sent a copy of the Skeptical Voter Survey Questions. His responses:
- 1. Should Homeopathy and other forms of complimentary and alternative medicine receive funding from the Scottish NHS?
- No I generally wouldn’t support that, although, where evidence exists for benefit from remedies which have not been developed by the pharmaceutical industry then I would support further research and availability when/if proven to be of benefit.
- 2. Scotland has declared itself GMO free – do you welcome this or do you worry it could have an impact on our world class life sciences research?
- I believe that this has majority support in Scotland at present and would not necessarily argue for a change at this time. However, I would generally like to see policy in this area proceed carefully on the basis of scientific evidence rather than fear.
- 3. What would you propose as a “Scottish Solution” for funding our universities? Should we take similar steps regarding fees as England and Wales? Should we introduce a graduate tax? How can we ensure that Scotlands Universities continue to be world class?
- I personally do not and have never supported tuition fees. The Scottish Labour Party has committed to no fees within the next term of the Scottish Parliament, I support this position. In the future there may be further debate about whether graduates should make a contribution to the cost of education such as was previously provide by the Graduate Endowment. My personal preference would remain for any contribution to be paid for through progressive taxation. On a related issue, I remain concerned about student support and believe that arguments around fees and contributions should not obscure the need for real help for students who do, or are likely to, need it if they are to have the benefit of getting to, and completing, further or higher education. For these reasons, Scottish Labour are also committing to reform of college bursaries, a review of how institutions are funded in the future and further investment in apprenticeships for those who are looking for training rather than further or higher education.
- 4. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
- 5. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
- I would like to further minimise the use of animal testing and desire that this be closely regulated with animal welfare in mind.
- However, I continue to accept that animal testing should be possible where the benefits can lead to better protection or extension of human life.
- 6. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive? What steps should policy makers take to evaluate claims and seek evidence?
- Politicians can only be expected to weigh competing evidence and arguments in the balance of their own judgement, in a democracy we can expect no more. It is our role as citizens to advocate our own views and to scrutinise the judgement of those who seek to make decisions for us.
- 7. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
- Yes, subject to what I have said in the previous answer about science and judgement. I support a women’s right to choose and I think judgements around time limits would be best informed by regard for medical evidence, rather than, for example, the moral or religious views of either ourselves or others in society.
- 8. Do you support gay adoption? Do you believe certain adoption agencies should be able to reject individuals based on sexuality?
- Yes and No.
- 9. Would you retain European Human rights legislation or seek to replace it if elected?
- I broadly support the current framework of European human rights legislation. That said, I would certainly be open to extending its provisions, particularly to ensure more progressive rights at work, if such an opportunity arose. I would not support reneging on our current commitments as a party to ECHR, nor would I support replacement if I believed that the replacement being pursued was primarily an attempt to wreck rather than improve.
- 10. What are your views on nuclear power and green energy?
- I support a mixed energy policy but with an emphasis on investment in renewable energy, and green jobs.
- 11. What public services would you retain/scrap in Scotland if elected?
- I don’t believe that to be a necessary question, public services are relied upon by millions of Scots and the public sector is an important driver of the Scottish economy. I have no doubt that savings can be found in areas of expenditure for example through service redesign and high pay at the top but on the whole, I regard Scottish public services to be efficient and vital and I would approach questions of spending priority from that starting point.
Why not help us expand this page with more details of this politician's positions on skeptical issues?
- E-Mail them to ask for their opinions (and tell us about it by editing this page!)
- Check the information at the External Links listed above.
- Search the media for mentions of them and their positions on issues.
- Use your own brilliant ideas - but make sure you can back them up with a citation!