Changing the clocks

Posted by on Oct 31, 2011 in Commentary | 3 Comments

Once again I became briefly agitated about the changing of the clocks at the end of British Summer Time. This year, however, it seems that the views represented in the media are more in favour of your-round British Summer Time than is usually the case. It seems that the English are waking up to the fact that the current arrangements squander their evening light and deprive them of opportunities for outdoor recreation. A number of voices in the media expressed the opinion that the clocks were changed purely for the benefit of the Scots, but even here I think people are waking up to the idea. It has been reported that the Scottish Government would have a veto, and it seems depressingly likely that they might be willing to use it. Year-round BST would be one thing that I wouldn’t mind having foisted upon me by our unelected Westminster government.

I wrote this last year. My views on the topic haven’t changed.

I don’t object in any way to the changing of the seasons or the shortening of the days. What I do object to is having the natural flow of the seasons interrupted by the entirely senseless transition between British Summer Time (BST) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Every year a small minority propose that we should in fact stay in BST all year, perhaps with the option of advancing a further hour in the spring to GMT+2. Each and every year these visionaries are shouted down by dogma-peddling dimwits and dullards who trot out the same Tired Old Reasons as to why our evenings from now until the end of March should be plunged unnecessarily and prematurely into darkness.

Tired Old Reason Number 1: We change clocks for the benefit of the farmers, it is dangerous for farmers to start work in the dark. This is utter  nonsense. I know because I grew up and worked on a farm. Farmers work long hours and it is therefore inevitable that they will start and finish their work in the dark for many months of the year, no matter how we fiddle with the clocks. This reason is doubly spurious because farmers, not being bound by 9 to 5 convention, can start work at any hour of their choosing.

Tired Old Reason Number 2: In some places in Scotland it wouldn’t be light until 1000 hrs. Is having darkness until 1000 for a couple of weeks really that much worse than having it until the already pretty late hour of 0900? It is simply very dark in midwinter and any morning-related gains made under the current  arrangement would be comfortably offset by the increased quantity of evening daylight gained under year-round BST

Tired Old Reason Number 3: We change clocks for the benefit of the children. Children would be mown down in droves every morning if they had to walk to school in the dark. This is absolute nonsense.   The popularity of this Tired Old Reason illustrates the wrong-headedness of the pro-GMT lobby perfectly. Not only is it demonstrably false – a trial of year-round BST between 1968 and 1971 resulted in less, not more, road casualties –  children would actually benefit  from the additional opportunity to play outside in daylight after school.

All of us would benefit enormously from additional evening daylight during the winter months, from the ability to go for a walk, a run or a bicycle ride and feel the evening sun on our faces. So support the campaign:  join the Facebook group;  rant to your colleagues and family members. It would be great if common sense prevailed eventually. One year -maybe even next year – I might be spared the pain  of listening to some unthinking automaton reciting the three  Tired Old Reasons above.


  1. Anonymous
    November 1, 2011

    Good points – and quite right – the arguments against are totally spurious. I too am from a farming background. Even now my day starts when there’s work to do and finishes when it’s done, regardless of whether it’s light or dark outside.

    If Scotland wants to maintain it’s own time zone, then it can. In Europe neighbouring countries can be in different times zones, and in the US and Canada there are several time zones, and they all seem to cope ok.

  2. muddytracks
    November 1, 2011

    I think I am the exact opposite of you. I hate it when the clocks change, but I would like us to stay in GMT and not go into BST next spring. My reason: winter light is very precious to me, but I’d prefer my morning’s to be lighter and am prepared to sacrifice my evening light for this. A 10am sunrise really sounds hideous to me (it would be 9.30am if the clocks stayed forward where I live).

    Of course, my perfect solution would be to hibernate until spring

  3. Zed
    November 1, 2011

    Why was the earlier experiment with Standard Time abandoned? I was told that it was because of increased numbers of car crashes, which makes sense as we would spend more hours driving on ice. Now, on the coldest days, ice has an hour longer to melt than it would if we had British Summer Time all year round.


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