Perpetual summertime?

Last October, just as we were about to change the clocks in order to slip back into Greenwich Mean Time for the winter, I suggested that we might like to stop doing this and stay on summer time all year round. Now the whole thing may come on the agenda, as a British Conservative backbench MP, Rebecca Harris, has proposed that the British government ‘conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year’.

To be honest, I’m not altogether sure what she has in mind. The wording of her proposal could mean either that BST (British Summer Time) remains the official British time all year round, with no clock change at any time; or it could mean that the clocks will change as before, but that all year they will be one hour later than where they are now (which would mean that the UK will be in the same time zone as continental European countries); or it could mean something else I haven’t thought of (there is some reference in the report of ‘double summer time’, whatever on earth that means).

Leaving Ms Harris aside (which I can do easily enough, as until the other day I had never heard of her), I might declare that my own preference would be, as I said last year, to stop all this business of changing the clocks, and to stay on one time all year round, preferably on what is now BST (or whatever we call that in Ireland). Changing the clocks is actually quite expensive and, as far as I am concerned, not really beneficial. It used to be argued that changing the clocks back to GMT during the winter helped farmers and schoolchildren, but I suspect that this need not be such an issue now.

Apparently David Cameron is considering supporting Ms Harris – assuming he is better able to understand than I am what she actually wants. If the outcome of that is a new framework for the UK, Ireland will need to decide what to do, no doubt partly because the prospect might arise that Dublin and Belfast could be in different time zones. Or maybe the Irish government could even get into discussions with the British Prime Minister. If so, I say go for perpetual summer time. Why not?

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11 Comments on “Perpetual summertime?”

  1. Clare Coyle Says:

    I believe we call it IST. And perpetual summertime sounds likes the way forward!

  2. kevin denny Says:

    I think the ideal solution is for the UK & Ireland to adopt the same time as our Continental friends (maybe the latter won’t feel so cut off πŸ˜‰ ). Whether we should change if the Brits don’t is unclear to me. Some would argue that it would be very messy to have a different time from the UK especially for Northern Ireland. But lots of contiguous regions have different time zones: I imagine we would cope.


    • Sure, Kevin – but that would still have the clocks changing twice a year, which is what I would principally want to avoid!

      • kevin denny Says:

        I agree that changing clocks is a hassle and my instinct was “Why can’t people just get up earlier or later or change school hours as the seasons change?” But thats also a hassle so changing the time is perhaps an efficient way of dealing with this. Surely clocks etc can be made that just do this automatically as our computers do?

  3. Vincent Says:

    I do not give much of a hurrah as long as the pick one and stick to it.

  4. Kevin O'Brien Says:

    Is the British proposal to harmonise with the rest of Europe? If so, that means that clocks still be changed twice a year; “UTC + 1” to “UTC + 2”

    Currently UK and Ireland alternate between “UTC” and “UTC+1” (Western European Time and Summer Time respectively, but almost everyone understands what GMT and BST mean too)

    I understood the proposal to be that we use WEST only, which is a bit different from the harmonization proposal.

  5. Ted Pugh Says:

    Rebecca is proposing the idea that the UK adopt GMT+1 as the standard time and still put the clocks forward an hour in Spring to GMT+2; but her bill is unlikely to become Law.

    Cameron has said that any change would need to encompass the whole of the UK and, if her bill were passed, the sun would not rise until 10.00am in Scotland during the winter.

    The UK adopted GMT+1 as British Standard Time during the oil crisis (which I can remember) and, after it was over, we were all glad to get our lighter mornings back.

    You need to remember that, for every hour of light you grab in the evening, by putting the clocks forward, you gain an extra hour of darkness in the morning.


    • Thanks, Ted. I don’t think the previous standard time experiment had anything to do with the oil crisis: it was from 1968 to 1971, before there was any oil crisis. I remember it, too, and unlike you was gutted when it was abandoned. I don’t care about dark mornings (you get that anyway), I *hate* the dark afternoons.

  6. iainmacl Says:

    why not go to the deeper issue of what it is we’re doing to ourselves, our children and our quality of lives? By moaning when the natural world inconveniences our self-robotiscised, we’re slipping further and further into our economic serfdom and our impoverished intellectual and cultural lives.

    How about adapting to suit the changing seasons rather than combat them? Why not change the working/school day in winter from 9-5 to 10-4? Get a bit more sleep, kids tucked up in bed early, parents able to function as human beings, a bit less aggro in traffic when it’s pitch black and the paltry glow of sodium street lights just conditions us to gloom and despair rather than real enlightenment.

    but then I’m also an advocate for less working days in the week, particularly in summer when there’s so much to do out there!!! πŸ˜‰

    • Perry Share Says:

      Yeah, what happened to the ‘age of leisure’ we were all promised back in the 1960s/70s? Presumably went the way of personal spaceships, lurex jumpsuits and the paperless office!


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