An encouraging 40% of nearly 200 Finance Directors polled by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland chose David Cameron out of anybody as who they wanted to be Prime Minister. It’s not clear whether the respondents were all Scottish, but Gordon Brown got only 27%, Menzies Campbell 4.9% (the same as Tony Blair!) and Alex Salmond 2.1%. The editor of ICAS’ magazine told the Scotsman:
"They are fairly disenchanted with politicians overall, but Cameron is perceived as the best of a bad lot. FDs would probably give their votes more wholeheartedly to any
candidate who had a credible programme for reducing red tape and easing
the burdens on business."
Imagine the lead if the Conservatives did unveil such a programme.
Meanwhile, the Conservative STEM taskforce (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have published an interim paper today advocating "innovation prizes". The idea takes inspiration from the 1714 Longitude Act – which offered the equivalent
of £30 million for a way of measuring longitude accurately – and gives the modern example of a £10,000 prize to develop a new way of wave-produced electricity.
Instead of subsidising firms to develop technologies, the taskforce (headed by former Conservative Science Minister Ian Taylor) believes government departments could offer a contract for the end product and leave it to companies to seek their own funding.
People often hearken back to the innovative Victorian days, perhaps this kind of incentive-driven rather than grant-funded research is the way forward.