Blair. Neuroscience.

Any of you think he'll actually go if he loses this vote?

Naaa, me neither. Although he claims he'd have to have a confidence vote. There'd be no need for one, but of course if he wants to win the rebels over, he has to have some stick to beat them with.

And Cambridge Uni isn't going to build that primate research centre. Well, that's a win for nobody - if it ends up at Porton (which seems to be the other site people are talking about) then the protesters will just have further to travel and much much more serious security to deal with.

Update - he got it. Majority of five.
The last reports I read gave the impression that most of the 'rebels' are rolling over and wanting their tummies tickled, so he might not even lose the vote.
Yes. Of course, if he'd made these concessions earlier, then he wouldn't be having this sticky vote. But he;s always so bold and decisive when he's wrong, and only timid when he's right.
Is there really no alternative to primate research?

What's it actually being used for?
I got the impression that a lot of it was behavioural stuff which is certainly interesting, but not exactly vital to human survival.
I think it's mainly nervous system research - brain and spinal injuries and degenerative diseases.

The MRC and Wellcome Trust were putting money in, and they're not interested in animal behaviour.
Okay... I think that qualifies as directly relevant to serious problems with human beings.

Actually, on a strict abstract moral level I feel I shouldn't approve of any experiments on higher animals at all.
However, pragmatically I know that I'm selfish enough that if my kids got BSE or anything like that I wouldn't really care how many chimps had been tortured to find a cure.

Next question, I guess, is whether there are other ways of achieving the same results?
Surely any vertebrate would have the same sort of brain and spinal system, and degenerative diseases are generally sufficiently unsubtle that they can be observed in any sort of animal?

And what about the possibility of using human cell cultures instead of live animals? Or even human volunteers who suffer from the diseases?
You can use all of these things to some extent, and they're cheaper too.

However, what you can't do then is look at the functioning of the complete nervous system (as damaged/diseased) in the same sort of detail. It's a complex system with many different cell types and a very fine structure which I'd be very surprised to find replicated in a lab. Degenerative diseases, as far as I can tell, mainly develop in long-lived animals, which counts out all of the easy ones to work with. And, of course, the results are most obvious and useful with our closer relatives, both in recognising and interpreting them and using the knowledge afterwards.

So the alternatives aren't, at the moment, a complete solution. The choice is between using the limited range of available alternatives or going ahead using primates now.
Ah. Serious moral dilemmas then.

I expect, as usual, the devil is in the detail.
There might be sufficient justification - it depends on exactly where the line is being drawn and what specific benefits are gained by using primates in addition to the other methods.