Unhealthy claim

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Brian Wilson (Perspective, 
19 July) enters what might safely be called the realm of propaganda when he writes: “An impressive 93 per cent of our leading medical academics have said that medical research in Scotland would suffer from independence.” His claim is based on a “poll” of 106 Scotland-dwelling Fellows of the London-based Academy of Medical Sciences. Of the 76 respondents, 73 indicated their preference for remaining in the UK, hence the 93 per cent claim.

However, who funds this academy and what are its aims? Borrowing from the diligent detective work of a certain Scottish NHS doctor Neil Alexander MacAskill, who comprehensively debunked the No campaign’s representation of the same poll, we discover that these Fellows are members of an organisation that is funded to a large extent by donations from big pharma, and whose aims include influencing policy decisions.

For Brian Wilson to present such survey results as “impressive” evidence to support his anti-independence position is not worthy of an experienced journalist and politician.

What is impressive is the growing body of academics in Scotland who appreciate that the real threat to medical research stems from continuing Westminster austerity. On the one hand, we have the UK and England contexts of cuts in research and science funding, high student fees with unsustainable loan funding, an immigration policy that is a barrier to international student recruitment, and the prospect of an exit from the European Union and its research funding.

By contrast, we have a Scottish Government committed to research funding, free university access for residents and to attracting international students. A Yes vote will protect Scotland’s universities and allow appropriate research priorities to be determined.

Dr Stephen J Watson

Founder and chair of 
Academics for Yes