NYT: pressure to change UK clocks (no change yet)

Marshall Eubanks tme at americafree.tv
Fri Jan 21 15:11:30 UTC 2011

Off List.

Here it is.


Scots Tell London, Hands Off Our Clocks

Andrew Testa for The New York Times
Inverness, Scotland, at 8 a.m. Thursday. A change to year-round daylight time in Britain would make winter sunrise as late as 10 a.m. in the north.
Published: January 20, 2011

INVERNESS, Scotland — The question was time, and whether to support legislative efforts in London to move it around in order to bring more light to the afternoons. The answer was no, said Jean Kaka, 67, a resident of this city far to the north.
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Andrew Testa for The New York Times
Robin MacDonald would rather not have to reset his clocks twice a year.

The New York Times
Inverness is about 700 miles farther north than Montreal.
Scots may suffer from afternoon gloom, but at least it’s Scottish gloom, Mrs. Kaka said recently, her words seeming to fade as the feeble midafternoon light (it was not yet 3 p.m.) receded around her, like color being leeched from a painting.

“They’re trying to tamper with our time,” she said. “England is a different country than we are, and they’re imposing this on us.”

Horological management may seem like small potatoes next to things like terrorism, global warming and who will design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, but it causes tempers to run hot up here.

For more than a century, non-Scottish politicians have been campaigning to put Britain’s clocks forward an hour all year round — essentially, taking an hour of light from the morning and adding it to the afternoon. Proponentssay the measure would save energy and reduce traffic accidents, while making afternoons less oppressive for commuters, schoolchildren and people in whom early darkness provokes anomie and existential listlessness.

The new bill would require the government merely to study the financial implications of such a change, paving the way for a pilot project that could lead to permanent clock resetting. Its supporters include groups representing cricket players, people with seasonal affective disorder, pub owners, dog breeders and environmentalists.

Opposing it are many Scots and a smattering of other groups, as well as the government, which points out that an earlier experiment in clock-shifting about 40 years ago failed miserably, after people complained about the hideousness of the pitch-black mornings.

Britain currently sets its clocks at Greenwich Mean Time in fall and an hour ahead of that in spring. (New York is generally five hours behind Britain; Western Europe is an hour ahead).

The problem is that while a clock change might bring afternoon joy to London, it would condemn Inverness in the far reaches of Scotland — in relative terms, about 700 miles north of Montreal — to long, dark winter mornings with sunrises as late as 10 a.m.

Even worse, many Scots feel, it would mean giving in to English politicians. Though the devolution of British politics has given Scotland its own legislature and responsibility for many of its own affairs, the clock is still controlled by Parliament in London.

“Certainly the people in London don’t have any real concept of the effects further north,” said Anthony Billington, 64, who was strolling through town recently. “I’m much more of a morning person, anyway.”

The Daily Mail, the populist newspaper, also opposes the plan, arguing that changing the clocks would require abandoning Greenwich Mean Time and capitulating to foreign countries with famously sinister motives, namely Germany.

In a recent column titled, “Don’t Let Them Force You to Live Your Life on Berlin Time,” the Mail columnist Peter Hitchens argued that ever since Kaiser Wilhelm II arrogantly made everyone in the expansionist German Empire change their clocks in the 19th century, “German power has been forcing its ideas of time on the rest of the Continent.”

The prospect of further erosion of British sovereignty has indeed proved dismaying to many Daily Mail readers.

“Greenwich Mean Time is part of our inheritance, and we should remain loyal to our past, which has shaped our history and is respected worldwide,” a reader wrote on The Mail’s Web site. Another said: “I wonder what the German people would say to moving their time an hour forward, if it is such a good idea?”

The measure was debated last month in the House of Commons, with legislators musing on topics like the joys of late-night summer barbecues, the irritation of cricket matches’ ending abruptly because of bad light and the sadness of seeing Scottish schoolchildren waiting for buses in the dark.

They also discussed whether dark mornings or dark afternoons were more depressing; whether we control time, or it controls us; why “The Waste of Daylight,” the 1907 pamphlet by the daylight-saving pioneer William Willett, was a seminal work; and whether Scotland should just go ahead and get its own time zone, already.

“We have a duty to every single one of the 60 million residents of the United Kingdom to ensure that when we set the time for them, we make the right choice,” said Rebecca Harris, the sponsor of the bill.

While Ben Bradshaw, a Labour member of Parliament, said that “no other piece of legislation has the potential to spread so much happiness across the United Kingdom,” Eilidh Whiteford, from the Scottish National Party, warned that the measure would bring “danger and misery for people who live in the north.”

“Dawn happens when dawn happens,” Angus MacNeil, another Scottish nationalist, pointed out. “The sleight of hand is that we are not moving the dawn about. We are actually moving ourselves by changing the clocks. Clocks, which started by measuring time, end up governing lives.”

Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative, tried to quell misgivings by noting that the bill’s backers “are not getting rid of sunshine in any form.”

The measure passed a preliminary vote and will go to a committee for review.

In 1752, so the story goes, there were riots in the streets and angry cries of “Give us back our 11 days!” from a distressed citizenry when Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar. The move required a philosophical leap of faith in that it summarily excised one-third of September, so that Sept. 2 was followed by Sept. 14.

Robin MacDonald, 63, who owns a television store in downtown Inverness, said that while Parliament’s efforts to jump time ahead hardly mean that time is literally being stolen from him, he could do without having to set and reset his clocks twice a year.

When he was a child in the rural north, he said, he traveled to and from school in conditions “as dark as the inside of your hat.” So he doesn’t care what time legislators decide it is, as long as they decide something.

“They should make up their mind,” Mr. MacDonald said, “and then they should leave it alone.”
On Jan 21, 2011, at 7:42 AM, Peter Ilieve wrote:

> Eliot Lear wrote:
>> New York Times reports Scottish opposition to a study to look at moving
>> clocks forward an hour in the UK.
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/world/europe/21inverness.html
> I haven't looked at that as it requires a login, but it's almost
> certainly about Rebecca Harris' Daylight Saving Bill 2010-11,
> a Private Members' Bill that is currently before the UK Parliament.
> I meant to send something about this Bill before now, but never
> got round to it.
> Unlike previous such Bills that attempt to change the clocks, this
> one goes about it indirectly. It would require the government to
> conduct a cross-departmental study into the costs and benefits
> of advancing the clocks by an hour. (The Bill mentions advancing
> the clocks for all or part of the year, but we are bound by EC
> Directive to continue having summer time so I can't see the part
> year option happening.) The government would then set up a commission
> to assess the results of the study. If the commission considers that
> changing the clocks is a good idea the government would introduce
> the change for a three year trial period. At the end of that period
> the government would either make the change permanent or explain
> why not.
> The Bill has got past its second reading, which is further than
> previous Bills have got. There does seem to be a larger head
> of steam behind the idea of change than there has been in
> previous years. My guess is that this Bill will still fail though,
> like all the others.
> The UK Parliament page about the Bill is at
> <http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/daylightsaving.html>.
> The second reading debate and the Bill itself are linked from there.
> There is also a Commons research paper behind the All Bill documents
> link.
> Rebecca Harris asked several questions about this last November.
> Search for "daylight" in the Hansard report at
> <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/chan63.pdf>.
> (A sample:
> Rebecca Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what
> assessment his Department has made of the likely effect on the rate of
> obesity of the introduction of daylight saving time throughout the year.
> Anne Milton: None.)
> The Policy Studies Institute produced a report last October about
> the implications of such a clock change for Scotland. This was
> reported at the time as saying opposition in Scotland isn't as
> strong as it was. That report is available at
> <http://www.psi.org.uk/pdf/2010/SCOTLAND_DAYLIGHT_FINAL_v4.pdf>.
> The PSI produced an earlier report about this in 1993, available at
> <http://www.psi.org.uk/mayerhillman/Time%20fora%20Change.pdf>.
> That was an update of an earlier 1988 report which I haven't
> found online.
> They also have a press release about the October report and Rebecca
> Harris' Bill at
> <http://www.psi.org.uk/news/pressrelease.asp?news_item_id=241>.
> 		Peter Ilieve		peter at aldie.co.uk

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