Alex Massie

Setting the Clocks Free

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Hardy Perennial Watch: Daylight Savings Time Edition. Yup, some things are certain and among them is the fuss over the ending of British Summer Time tonight. For years the North has handily Defeated the South but I suspect that, just as Dave Cameron's southern chums may be about to supplant Gordon Brown's North Britons, so too will the South, er, rise again and eventually prevail in the Great Clock Battle of Britain.

The case for change - that is, for not changing the clocks -  is not a bad one even if it has always been defeated by the Scottish lobby. (No surprise there, eh, Spectator readers?) The Times makes that case here and it is persuasive.

If southern England wants to extend British Summer Time through the winter then that seems fine to me. There's no reason why Scotland and England must be in the same time zone. In practical terms Scotland there'd be little real difficulty in adjusting to the new arrangements. Plenty of countries manage to cope with different time zones.

No, the difficulty is psychological, not practical. Wouldn't seperate winter time zones underline the extent to which Scotland has become a semi-detached member of the Union? Perhaps it would. But if the Union was supple enough to accomodate seperate legal systems within a unitary state I think it can probably survive Scotland and England being in different time zones for a few months each year.

But let's go further: if, say, Cornwall or Wales or Norfolk want their own local time zones then let them set their own clocks. That's localism one may believe in...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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