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Science role for Halcro Johnston after Conservative reshuffle

By Alan Beresford

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HIGHLANDS and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has been appointed the Scottish Conservatives’ new spokesman on science following the party’s reshuffle at Holyrood.

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP, the Scottish Conservatives' new spokesman on science.
Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP, the Scottish Conservatives' new spokesman on science.

Mr Halcro Johnston remains a Shadow Education Minister, but will focus on colleges and universities, with science an addition to his responsibilities.

Mr Halcro Johnston said: “Scotland has a proud record in science, research and innovation.

“Whether it’s the discovery of penicillin, the development of the television or cloning and Dolly the sheep, many of the giants of science, and the great scientific leaps forward, are the result of work done here in Scotland or by Scots abroad.

“And Scotland’s education has been the bedrock of that success, supporting much of our contribution to the advancement of knowledge.

“Success in this area is also fundamental to our economy, with science and engineering businesses supporting thousands of jobs and generating major revenue.

“However, the sector undoubtedly faces challenges post-Covid, as our relationship with the EU changes and with the Scottish Government clearly focused on pushing for another independence referendum.

“What we must be focusing on is building on Scotland’s world-leading scientific reputation and ensuring the firm educational bedrock that it requires is in place. We have to get this right.

“I’m look forward to working with our colleges, universities, employers and other stakeholders to ensure we give people the opportunity to make their contribution in science as previous generations of Scots have done.”

Mr Halcro Johnston added that as well as building on Scotland’s reputation, he wanted to promote efforts to widen participation in science.

“I come from a family of scientists. My grandfather was a mathematician and my great uncle, Henry Halcro Johnston, who I spoke about at last year’s Orkney Science Festival, was a botanist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

“But more importantly, my family has always been one where women have been actively involved in science.

“My grandmother, Marjorie Freeth, was an electrical engineer who, working for General Electric, was part of the team which developed the first photocell. And her sister, Grace, was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

“To ensure science careers are as accessible as possible, it’s vital that we also ensure the widest possible participation in STEM subjects.

“No one should feel a career in science is not open to them based on their gender or background”.

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