A rant about GMT

Posted by on Nov 2, 2010 in Commentary | 3 Comments

Every year at this time I briefly become agitated about the changing of the clocks at the end of British Summer Time. Usually I content myself with a brief rant to family members and work colleagues, however this year I am going to indulge myself in my first Official Blog Rant.

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.

There is always hope. As I type the Californians are voting on Proposition 19, a proposal to legalise the cultivation and sale of marijuana. A Yes vote would be a nail in the coffin of the War On Drugs, a clear statement  that the rest of the US – and the world – would find very difficult to ignore. Who knows, it may even eventually  lead to this country adopting a rational, evidence-based drug policy.


  1. BG!
    November 2, 2010

    I find myself in agreement with you, Gavin. From an amateur astronomer’s POV I’m averse to the notion of GMT+2 – having to wait another extra hour for total darkness in the summer would mean the loss of yet another hour between going out to observe and getting up for work or whatever.

    Going over to CET full-time (pardon the pun) is pitched as being good for those who trade with the Europeans. Trouble is, our trading capacity has been hobbled by various influences (Govt., economic downturn etc.) so even that’s becoming a “Tired Old Reason”.

    Maybe it’s time that the powers-that-be in these lands actually listened to AND acted upon the wishes of those rightfully-resident in these lands.

    Can the Scottish Parliament not pull Scotland out of GB’s Daylight-Saving unilaterally and set up something more suited to its electorate?

  2. Gavin Macfie
    November 3, 2010

    Unfortunately the SNP administration are one of the parties guilty of ignoring both evidence and public opinion and trotting out these tired old excuses!

  3. Robert Craig
    November 8, 2010

    It shouldn’t make any difference either way as clocks are for human convenience, we still get exactly the same amount of daylight.

    However I prefer to cycle to work at dawn in winter knowing it will be dark in the evening, rather than the other way around. Also, it being light earlier in summer makes sense for hillwalking. As most people aren’t up and around till 9am, if you can drag yourself out your pit on a glorious summer morning, you can have the roads and hills all to yourself for longer.

    I suppose I’m arguing from an early risers point of view for GMT all year round…


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