back to article Historian slams 'absolutely crazy' UK time zone

Noted historian Sir Alistair Horne has described as "absolutely crazy" Blighty's refusal to fall into line with the continental European time zone. Speaking to the Beeb's Today programme, Sir Alistair admitted that while putting the clocks back an hour this Sunday might benefit Scottish dairy famers, giving them some extra …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ah this again

    why doesn't europe fall in line with us.

    Bloody foreigners coming over here taking our time.......

    I am guessing this is the bloody city again. Moaning that their markets are out of sync.

    The US has lots of zones so whats the problem.

  2. Richard 81


    Always thought the same. What does it matter what time it says on the clock? A farmer has to be up with his herd at dawn regardless.

  3. Dave Liney

    Idiot fails to realise that it is Spain and France that are on the wrong time zone.

    "the only country which is on Portuguese time* is Britain"

    *cough* Ireland?

  4. Dexter

    Why not

    Why not change school hours in the winter in Scotland, rather than shifting the clocks?

    Wouldn't that cause less disruption?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Historian or pillock?

    Is Ireland a country? What timezone is it on?

    Has the UK tried double summer time as an experiment? Was that the same as being on Central European time? Was it rejected? Why?

    Unlike the pillock being quoted, I don't claim to have the answers, but I'm sure readers will help refresh my memory.

    Anyway, if folk don't like going to/from work/school etc in the dark, CHANGE THE TIMES OF WORK/SCHOOL etc. Midday is midday, don't f*** with things like that.

  6. Dave Murray

    Portuguese time?

    That why it's called Greenwich Mean Time then? After some place in Portugal? Oh right.

  7. Robin Baker

    the sun come up... the sun go down

    Does it make any difference at all what time we call the hour.

    The Scottish farmers should work to the hours of available daylight and ignore clocks.

    So should we all.

  8. Alastair McFarlane

    But, but...

    Aren't timezones defined with an offset from GMT? (or UTC, same thing)

    So if GMT changes to be an hour later (ie. most of the country stay in BST - presumably no longer so-called), all the timezones will have to rename?

    Also, timezones look like longitudinal bands, surely splitting Britain in half *latitudinally* (as you'd be doing by leaving Scotland in a different zone) would just make things even *more* confusing?

    Am I the only actually looking *forward* to an extra hour's sleep this weekend?

  9. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    If anything is "absolutely crazy"

    It's Sir Alistair Horne. I mean, FFS, why mess with our timezone, with the massive technical problems it'll cause with, for example, any computer knowing what time it is, for at most a marginal benefit, and probably none at all. It is almost as if it was for this guy that the word 'fucktard' was invented.

  10. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Another idiot

    Why should we change? After all, we operate with what is basically 'local solar time' which was the whole point of time zones (well, OK, they at least gave a uniform time for a whole area around mean solar time).

    The argument about business hours is bogus, as some countries (e.g. Spain) have long lunch breaks and work later in to the evening. And of course with 24h e-business what is the problem?

    The argument about schools is another straw man: why no do something about road use in general? Why not consider different school hours or maybe educating children to take more care?

  11. Jimmy Floyd

    Not quite as simple, Sir Alistair

    By all rights, France and Spain should also be falling into line with the UK, Ireland and Portugal. It's THEM that's out of whack, given their relative positions to the meridian.

    Frankly, the Scots can do what they bloody like. Give 'em their own time-zone for all I care. 'Tis a foolish Englishman that goes that far north in the winter anyway...

  12. Tim 30

    Why change

    Why change the clocks at all, don't see the point.

    If its for the cows how will they know, can cows tell the time?

    School kids mainly go to school in Chelsea Chariots these days and they have headlights (once the driver can find them and switch them on without the blasted rear fog light burning holes in everyone's retinas)

    Stay on GMT, it is the global standard after all and we all know why we have standards.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but....

    ...we have not "put them back". We have reverted to GMT, you know pretty much what all time zones are based around. So as the UK is the centre of time, them bloody Johnny foreigners should fall in line with us and like it and while at it, learn to drive on the correct side of the road.....

  14. rpjs

    Speaking as a historian myself

    Well, at least I did a history degree before getting into this IT malarkey, but the good professor hasn't really looked very far into the history of this.

    France and Belgium were both on GMT until the Germans made them adopt their time during WWII, and whilst Spain is nominally on CET, they actually do all their activities one hour behind the rest of the timezone, opening shops and offices around 10am, and going to dinner around 9pm, equivalant to 9am and 8pm in Blighty (and Portugal for that matter, which is when the Portuguese tend to do those activities).

    So really it's the countries west of Germany that use CET that are out of step, and they really should be on GMT like us. Pro-EU as I am, this argument that we should fall into line with France and Germany to aid business is ridiculous. After all, the US has four main timezones plus zones for Hawaii and Alaska, and they seem to cope OK.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody Johnny foreigner and such like...

    How can the UK fall in line with central Europe when Greenwich, England is the reference point. Surely it should be up to the rest of europe to fall in line with the UK.

    If nothing else Spain should be on the same time as England as Madrid is west of the meridian.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    @Dave Liney

    Ireland? thats not even a real country is it lol

  17. Stef 4
    Thumb Up

    Wise words of Ford Prefect

    "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

  18. Tim Spence


    The UK is ON the bloody prime meridian - Greenwich in London is at 0°00′00″E. This line also runs through the west of France and the east of Spain, so we're right, and it's them that's wrong.

  19. Anton Ivanov

    Re: Why not

    You should not give such blasphemous ideas.

    Next thing you will get the idea of schoolchildren having a life and childhood as they have in the rest of Europe. There they start between 7 and 8 so that they can finish by 1pm and have an afternoon to play. This includes countries which just about see some sunshine after 10am in winter by the way. Oh, and they start formal lessons at 7 as well. Another blasphemous idea.

  20. Paul Murphy

    We exist too...

    Is Ireland too insignificant or do you still consider it part of the Great British Empire?

  21. It wasnt me

    Bleeding good idea.

    Its a genius idea. Theres hundreds of arguments for / against. But the only one that matters is my free time.

    Its dark when I go to work in the morning regardless, but an extra hour of daylight in the evenings in winter would be great.

    End of. Now make it so.

    And Im massively surprised that that complete tit-end Salmon running scotland hasnt tried to stick the scots on a different time anyway just to annoy us brits.

    Note to scots / salmon: Couldnt care less what you do. If you want independence, take it. You elected the knobhead.

  22. Chris Walton

    Why not change our time zone?

    Because its wrong.

    Ever since we started measuring time 12 midday was supposed to be the time that the sun is highest in the sky. As Britain is further west than europe this going to happen at a different time (obviously).

    Also as any boy scout knows that by using an analog watch you find out which way north and south is - imagine what would happen, lost scouts wandering all over the country!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Cows can't read clocks

    If the UK moves our clocks forward an hour to match Europe, surely that means the Scottish dairy farmers would just get up at 7am (rather than 6am) if they don't want to milk in the dark. Why do they have a problem with that? There something on at the radio at that time they don't want to miss? Their alarm clocks locked in to a certain time and can't be changed? I'm genuinely confused why farming is put forward as an argument to retain the current system.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I thought (geographically speaking), France was in the same TZ as the UK. So shouldn't *they* change to match us?

    Personally, I say bring back Bristol Time!!!

  25. rpjs

    @Alastair McFarlane

    No, GMT remains what it says on the tin, the solar mean time at the Greenwich meridiam. Currently we're on British Summer Time and won't be on GMT until clocks go back on Sunday. This also means that France and Germany *are* currently on GMT, except they know it as Central European Summer Time.

  26. Daniel 1

    The bit that came as news, to me...

    ... was that, apparently, it's tired school children that cause road traffic accidents.

    As I understand it, the core of the argument, is that drivers have a God-given right to drive home in the daylight, since it is so much easier for them to see what they are texting on their mobile phones.

    Or something like that.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Isn't it the case that France and Germany are in the wrong timezone, because of trade with their neighbours - so surely they should be told to move into the actual timezone their land-mass falls into?

  28. lIsRT


    All we have to do is make Summer day hours longer than Winter day hours (and vice versa).

    For Summer: Between 0600 and 1800, hours are 80 minutes long. Between 1800 and 0600, hours are 40 minutes long.

    For Winter: Between 0600 and 1800, hours are 40 minutes long. Between 1800 and 0600, hours are 80 minutes long.


  29. Matt Newton

    Britain is not a country

    Great Britain is the big island, Ireland is the smaller one to the left.

    The United Kingdom is the big island plus the northern part of the smaller island.

    There is no country called "Britain"

  30. Rob

    Flippin fringe nutter

    The US will love us, especially after they just implemented their DST so that the markets were more sync'd.

    Surely this would cause havoc on a number of devices and such like that rely on timing based on GMT?

    What's the problem with leaving it as is, all the time devices in my house change automatically as it is (except the flippin oven, but thats got a mind of it's own anyway and permentantly lives in a different time zone to the rest of the house). I think this Prof just wants his name to be in the History books, the change would be costly and it's not doing any harm to leave it alone.

  31. Kevin Fields

    Silly time zones

    As if the sun, the earth, or the universe actually care what a few LEDs on a readout state. I personally would be very happy if the whole world just stayed on GMT, screwing with time zones from one location to another and then trying to adjust for "more sunlight" during one section or another is just silly. If you want more activities to be done in natural light, then actually adjust your activities to do just that.

    Does this honestly matter in 1st world countries which have large chunks of society and industry that run 24/7? Does it really matter to the average citizen in New York, London or Tokyo if it is daytime or night time for any particular task that doesn't actually rely on the sun being available? This is why we created electricity and reliable power grids.

  32. Dazed and Confused

    Why doesn't Europe just grow up

    Trying to get all of Europe into one timezone is just daft. Sure when they a little biddy club of a couple of countries then no problem. If you want to grow and take over a large land area either only grow in the north south direction or accept that no matter how many EU directive you write that the world isn't flat and the sun goes around it.

    Other large areas cope with multiple timezones OK it's just eurofiles that can't add up.

    Besides France is only in the Austrian timezone because they would never agree to be in the same one as the UK :-)

    If we moved to Austrian time they'd move to Turkish.

    If you want to make life easy for working out the time of day in other countries just use UTC everywhere in the world and accept that people in SIngapore start work at 01:00 and that those in CA start at 17:00 (actually mostly they start much earlier).

  33. David Cotterill

    Keep it GMT

    All this playing silly buggers with clocks as dammed annoying. Digital clocks are fine, but when you have to go resetting those analogues it's no fun.

    I confuse the hell out of people, because I have my watch always set to GMT. If people ask me the time, I tell them. But I don't tell them which time zone it is.

  34. David Bond
    Thumb Up

    RE: But, but

    You're not the only one :)

  35. Dave 3

    Fact police

    @Dale Liney

    Ireland isn't a country, it's a puddle.

  36. Tim Bergel

    For goodness sake Alastair McFarlane

    > So if GMT changes to be an hour later (ie. most of the country stay in BST - presumably

    > no longer so-called), all the timezones will have to rename?

    NO. In summer we would be at GMT+2, in winter at GMT+1. Nobody is suggesting changing what GMT is, just what timezone England etc. uses.

  37. mh.

    Not again

    There's always someone grumbling about the clocks going back at this time of year but people don' t seem to complain as much when they go forwards again in Spring. I can't help wondering how many people would still complain about the clocks going back even if we did switch over to CET.

  38. GettinSadda

    Why does no one understand time these days!

    Noon = the time when the sun is as high as it's going to get today (= mid-day!)

    All other times in the day are derived from that.

    As it's best for everyone in the same country to share the same "time" (within reason) small countries should pick one place and use that to define "noon" for the whole country. It makes sense for this to be a place full of people that can measure such things and judge the right way to keep it sane - such as the country's main centre for astronomy (in the UK that was traditionally Greenwich).

    Where countries are too big East-West they really need to divide themselves up into sections and each section sets its own noon. It really helps if it is easy to convert from one to the other, so the whole world needs to agree that one is the "master" version of "noon" and all others are a fixed number of hours away. Why not choose the one set by the boffins at Greenwich, especially as they have now worked out some clever ways to average out differences in the measured "highest-point of the sun".

    So, now although in theory everyone has "noon" defined as the time when the sun is at it's highest in their area, it is actually derived from the Mean-Time an measured in Greenwich. But it is close enough that it works very well.

    However, if I do business regularly with someone that is several countries away, and their local time is, say 3 hours ahead of mine (so the sun is at it's highest for them when my clock says that it is 9am) we have a problem because our working hours don't overlap.

    So, should I change the "clock" - that is essentially telling me the position of the sun relative to my location, or my working hours?

    The same thing applies for large countries. Should a huge country (or a huge group of semi-independent countries) set all clocks to indicate the same time (i.e. have one single time-zone) so that people in different parts of the country go to work at the same time, or should people in the far west just go to work at an earlier "clock-time" if they want to be at work at the same time as others in the far east?

    If a country in Europe does most of its business with Japan, should that whole country adopt Japanese time?

  39. The Original Ash
    Dead Vulture

    Bugger off!

    That's my extra hour in bed you're messing with!

  40. Steven Jones

    @AC (09:56 GMT)

    The UK did indeed try double summertime for one year back in the 1960s. The experiment was not continued due to objections, a lot of which were from Scotland (but, by no means, all). One of the complaints was that schoolchildren had to travel to school in the dark putting them at greater risk of an accident.

    However, there was very good evidence that using GMT+1 in the winter saved lives on the roads. It was certainly true that there were more people killed in road traffic accidents in the dark mornings, but this was more that outweighed by the reduction in deaths when they travelled home in the light (there are more accidents involving people travelling home rather than from homefor some reason - perhaps tiredness). From memory, I think it was estimated the annual net saving in lives would have been something towards the hundred mark. Of course rational arguments like that are no match for a journalist interviewing a grieving parent whose child has been killed in a road traffic accident on a dark morning. You can't point a camera at grateful parents whose children's lives have been saved in the lighter evenings.

  41. Richard Tobin
    Thumb Down

    No need to change

    There's no need to be in the same timezone as continental Europe. For most people it makes no difference at all, and for people who have to deal with colleagues in the US it would make it worse. Currently there's half an hour overlap between the working day here and in California; with the change there would be no overlap at all. Most of Britain is already ahead of its natural timezone; it would make more sense for France to switch to GMT.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A noted historian, eh?

    ... so where's his deep historical insight, and how that's related to what we do with our clocks? Because if there isn't any such insight, then it may as well be headlined "yet another bloke rants about time zones". Why is this newsworthy?

  43. Hatan Skaaf

    @Alastair McFarlane

    Some people might be looking forward to an hour's extra sleep on Sunday, but I'm certainly not looking forward to my kids waking up at what will appear to be 5am...

    Especially as we're off round to friends Saturday night for a dinner party...

  44. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Bloody french

    The french have never quite accepted that their line wasn't adopted as the prime meridian. Winds them up a treat when you remind them that they are roughtly on GMT* +1

    *And let's be having none of thus UTC rubbish, it's Greenwich Mean Time for me, the time from which all time is calculated (OK, it isn't actually calculated from Greenwich any more but they use leap seconds to keep UTC as close to GMT as possible).

    Mine is the one with the caesium 133 atom in one pocket and a sundial and map of Greenwich (for when I want to be _really_ accurate) in the other.

  45. Scott Broukell

    ah!... the days of steam! (c.1840)

    Leeds is 6 Mins 10 seconds behind London time.

    Carnforth is 11 Mins 5 seconds behind London time.

    Barrow is 12 Mins 54 seconds behind London time.

    Beer is sometimes behind, above, below and in front of any other time you care to mention.

  46. Stuart Gray

    Geographically, there should be a Western Europe Time Zone

    Given that time is a measure from when the Sun is highest in the sky - named Midday, and dependent on longitude. Since the difference in midday is one hour with every 15 degrees of longitude, al of Europe from Ireland and Portugal in the West should be on GMT until one reaches Poland and the Baltic states. There may need to be some shifting slightly, as the "heel" of Italy would be in GMT+1 if the line was strictly delineated. Sweden would be in GMT+1 (since most of the country is further East than 15 degrees), but Norway would be GMT. So physically it is Spain, France, Germany, Benelux and Denmark that are wrong.

  47. Havin_it
    Thumb Up


    Having lived in the "tundra" all my life, I've never found the winter mornings anything other than miserable as it is. I think it might be preferable to have it a bit lighter when we get out of school/work, personally.

    The Scotsman had a piece on this subject yesterday from a different source: road safety groups, complaining that the time-shift causes a spike in road accidents every year at this time. Put that up against farmers having to get up at a different hour o'clock, I think I know which is the objective winner.

    And of course I'll enjoy the extra hour in my scratcher on Sunday, but all the while knowing I'll have to pay it back in the spring takes much of the joy out of it :(

    I'm willing to bet that if this gains any momentum, the will jump on Sir Al's "tundra time" suggestion as another opportunity to drive a wedge between us and England.

  48. Irp

    Historian ?

    Oh dear lord, I actually don't know where to begin. I'm in agreement with AC above.Let Europe come into line with us.

    *Espesially* those countries who happen to be between meridians 7°30'W and 7°30'E, and have the Greenwich Meridian running through them who see fit to be +1 hour from GMT. Do I smell garlic ?:) Are they still upset that "We British" ended up defining the standard time, and not them ?

    Now, less nationalistically, if it's such a big deal in the city to be aligned with Europe, surely they could just start an hour earlier ? Yes Yes, they'd have to get up earlier, but they could finish an hour earlier as well, boo hoo how much do they get paid ? Oh, aligning with Europe not *THAT* important now ?

    As for the UK being on "Portugese Time", has this "99% Scots" Historian never heard of Greenwich ? Or GMT ? Some Historian!

    Now, as for me, I'd abandon this "Daylight Savings Time" nonsense, and keep us on GMT all year round. Then again, I'd make the French use GMT. And the Belgians. And the Netherlands. And the Spanish

    As AC said, the Americans handle multiple timezones just fine. You often find the West Coast up early, and finish although that also has to do with the climate it some areas.

    Thank Omega, and Rassilon this guy aint a timelord!

    Pure geographical meridian based time for all! Now, more importantly, we just need a TARDIS icon

  49. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    DBST etc.

    Yes, DBST was tried between 1968-70 - dunno why they got rid of it, presumably those Scottish farmers complained. I can't see why it's a problem for them, surely the clock time isn't relevant to milking. It was also used during WWII:

    IIRC in Spain they do everything an hour or so later, so while they're on CET they don't go to school/work etc. until 10 am, and typically eat evening meals around 10pm or so.

    All I know is I had a terrible time trying to explain their POV on the 1985 Oxford O level English Language paper...(still got an A though - I expect the examiner couldn't understand it either)

  50. jon 72
    Paris Hilton

    On the bright side

    At least nobody has suggested changing the world time to decimal..

    Paris, because I'd like to be in her zone

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why would a historian be an authority on this?

    Anyway I'd rather we all got radio control time clocks and each month it adjusted itself to synch with the sunrise. Then we could all get up in much the same light, and experience the evenings change as the year progressed.

  52. This post has been deleted by its author

  53. neil 15
    Thumb Down

    hasn't this been tried before...

    ... by other idiots, IIRC Jeffrey Archer called for this when running for London mayor. The arguement about having to change times when using the channel tunnel may be relevant to him, but I somehow suspect that a considerably larger number would be inconvenienced travelling internally within the UK.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Re AC

    During WW2, Britain was on Summer time all year, and double summer time (+2 hours) during the summer.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    peaks in power demand...

    Change the clocks and the lights go out.

    We rely upon the electricity interconnect from France to the UK for power in the mid-evening, especially for the 8pm spike in consumption from people following the TV schedules.

    If UK goes on the same time zone as France, making their 8pm the same time as ours, their local demand is still high and there will either be not enough power or the wholesale price will be even more grotesque than it is now (over £1 per kWh).

    Currently, we take up capacity from French nuclear generation when they've finished cooking dinner and their demand drops off rapidly after 8:30pm in France (remember nuclear isn't as "on-able" and "off-able" as other sources, so we have to balance out the supply and the load.

    With a single time zone we'd need to run extra generating capacity in the UK and add to the £200bn the power industry says it wants.

    Time zones are a good thing for smoothing out demand for electricity over a super grid.

  56. alyn

    Get it right

    The Portugese are on UK time. not the other way around!

    It will be pub time shortly. That's more important.

  57. Hermes Conran

    Alastair, Alastair, Alastair.....

    GMT does not change, we just choose to ignore it in summer, hence British summer time. Having a nieghbouring contry on a different time zone is no more confusing if it is north of you than if it is west of you. That extra hour you are getting on sunday morning is the same one you lost in spring!

  58. Andy 22


    "Sir Alistair concluded by suggesting that if the Scots didn't like the idea of falling into line with Europe, they could adopt their own "tundra time" and carry on milking their cows in peace."

    Because that would be so much more sensible than having the whole country on the same time!

    Besides, it's 'Greenwich Mean Time', so it'd be bloody stupid if Greenwich was never on it.

  59. Anonymous Coward


    "Why not change school hours in the winter in Scotland, rather than shifting the clocks?..."

    I totally agree. Why change the clocks at all - time should be the same regardless of what season it is. If it's a problem being too dark (at whatever end of the day) then just move your the workinig day round as required. Actually changing the clock makes no sense to me - it just causes problems.

    And yes, cows don't know what time it is anyway, so it makes no difference to them if you milk them at 6am or 7am.

  60. ben 29

    Pedants 'R' Us

    >>Aren't timezones defined with an offset from GMT? (or UTC, same thing)

    No it is not the same thing at all. UTC is not GMT. End of.


  61. John 90


    What's the advantage of being in the same time zone as central europe? I can see little. Might be good for a few businesses, so let those businesses start work an hour earlier. It's madness to suggest the entire country has to change when only a few hundred thousand really need to.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward 09:56

    "Has the UK tried double summer time as an experiment?"

    Yes - it was tried during WW2 (BDST/DBST) and there was an experiment 1968–71 with British Standard time, which remained GMT+1 all the time.

    There was another attempt to carry out further experiment recently, but it didn't happen:-

    The outcome seemed to be that although there was an increase in accidents in the mornings, there was a greater reduction in the afternoon/evening.

    seems to be the Scottish farmers and other outdoor workers who mainly object to the idea.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    China has it right

    "Does it make any difference at all what time we call the hour.

    The Scottish farmers should work to the hours of available daylight and ignore clocks.

    So should we all."

    I prefer the method in China. One time zone for the whole country :) when Beijing gets up everyone gets up even if it will be dark for another 4 hours :)

    Great as long as you live in Beijing ;)

  64. Number6

    If you don't like it, leave

    If he really wants to be on the same time as Europe then he's free to move to a country over that way. Meanwhile, we'll sit here in the correct timezone for where we are on the globe, so that the sun is overhead at noon (plus or minus a small bit).

    If anything we have an advantage over the rest of Europe because we're closer to the US time-wise. German companies wishing to do business with California have no overlap - 8am in San Francisco is 5pm in Germany, so someone's got to stay late at the office, whereas we do at least get an overlap.

    Anyway, we tried the experiement once back in the 60s and dumped it after a short time because it wasn't popular. Why do it again, or is this using the EU method of "you didn't give us the correct answer last time so go try again"?

    The US manages to survive despite spanning six timezones in winter and seven in summer (Hawaii is GMT-10 and no summer time, so it's 11 hours behind us until Sunday) so I'm sure Europe can cope with us, Portugal and that other place that's too insignificant for him to remember just to the west of Wales being an hour adrift of the rest of them.

  65. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Do the cows care?

    Do the cows care? While regrettably I'm a touch short on dairy herd experience these days, I honestly don't remember a single instance of seeing a cow check her watches or standing around clock watching. Standing around chewing cud and looking stupidly oblivious to the entire world, well they do that with aplomb, but not time management.

  66. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    History Is Bunk

    It seems to be widely accepted that our switch between GMT and BST was there to aid Scottish farmers. That is completely untrue. As has already been pointed out farmers work to the sun, not the clock.

    Remember GMT is "normal" time, that is to say the sun is at it's highest at noon. We actually change the clocks for BST when there's loads of daylight around, particularly in northern Scotland. God knows why it's called daylight saving.

    The most puzzling thing about it is the fact that at any given location on any given day the length of the day is fixed. Nobody has ever managed to explain to me why changing the clocks by an hour (or two) so that sunrise and sunset come earlier on later on the clock actually achieves anything useful.

  67. markfiend

    Stick with GMT

    Is it just me or does British Summer Time (and similar "daylight saving" schemes) strike anyone else as like trying to make a piece of rope longer by cutting off one end and tying it to the other?

    Beer 'cos an extra hour in bed means more time for hangover recovery.

  68. Old Tom

    End this annual madness

    Every year we get this bleating from the solar deniers. It's simple, on the Greenwich Meridian the sun reaches its zenith at noon GMT.

    It does make sense for practical reasons - if your country is small enough - to adopt a common time for the whole country, and so we do. There is no practical reason to extend this to a whole continent, indeed there are strong practical reasons not to - look at USA, Canada, Russia, Australia; the only huge country with one artificial zone is China ('nuff said).

    Personally, I hate getting up and going out in the dark; whichever way, I come home in the dark in Winter anyway. I don't want my morning light taking away. If individuals down south wish to do so, they can time-shift their day starting Sunday morning. They are perfectly free to do this. If there's popular support, they could even get together and get their LEAs to time-shift the local school day; but leave the rest of use to live in the real solar world.

  69. Anonymous Cowardess

    "the only country on Portuguese time is Britain"

    erm, Portugal?

    As for "Am I the only actually looking *forward* to an extra hour's sleep this weekend?": No, I'm in desperate need of that hour for over 2 weeks now. And the shiny newly elected German government is now threatening us with "We're going to switch to summer time next year, but then we'll cancel switching back to normal time and you will never get that hour back." If that's not enough to start a revolution, what else is?

  70. The BigYin


    This swings round every year. It's a bit the whole "Post Office bans Santa!" that the Mail starts every two years.

    Other countries cope perfectly well with multiple time-zones, why is it so hard for Europe? I have been told that more people live closer to the GMT meridian than GMT+1, seems unliekly to me but I can't say I've been arsed to check. The time zones are geopolitical anyway and have little to do with the actual, true, off-set from GMT.

  71. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    time for tea

    Personally I advocate peanut butter jelly time.

  72. mad clarinet


    Again the 'heated discussions' occur. Next thing we'll hear is that the EU will want to move the meridian.

    It works - if people want to win Darwin Awards for doing something stupid as its lighter or darker then so be it. It gets dark earlier or later anyway depending on the weather so why change it. Changing stuff just because it hasn't been changed is stupid - if it works it works.

    I work in 3 timezone - GMT/BST and two of the US zones (EST/EDT and PST/PDT). The US is changing its clocks a week later - I'm not complaining about that. Instead of -5 and -8 it'll be -4 and -7 for a week.

    Mines the one with GMT on the back

  73. Steve Hosgood
    Thumb Down

    Bloody 'little england' politicians living in Kent again....

    We tried BST all year round in 1973 or 1974 as I recall and it was bl**dy awful. That's why we went back to the old system ASAP. I was in school at the time and we had to get up in the total dark and get to school in the total dark for months. Everyone had to be issued with "scotch" reflective tape (which was new stuff in those days) to make school bags and clothes more reflective.

    3M must have made a mint.

    I went to school in rural West Wales. The Scots are not the only ones to have a problem with BST in the winter. We were 20 minutes late w.r.t Greenwich astronomically where I grew up and I still live 16 mins late w.r.t Greenwich.

    No thanks - I say stick with the GMT/BST system and ask the French and Spaniards to stop p*ss*ng around with their clocks and work in WET like the rest of us. The trouble is that they're far enough South w.r.t the British Isles that it doesn't matter much to them.

    Those who forget the lessons of 1973/74 history are doomed to repeat them.

  74. RJPH
    Paris Hilton

    an extra hour in bed?

    I'd love to but knowing that the night is that little bit longer will only give me the excuse to stay up.

    Paris? Cos she's looking down at her watch trying to figure out what time it is.

  75. Phil Tanner

    Split it down the middle...

    Always wondered why we can't just move the clock back by half an hour (or forward by half an hour in the spring) and then just have done with it. All this faffing about twice a year could be put to bed once and for all...

  76. Anonymous Coward

    After all these years...

    It's been 125 years since Great Britain won the support of the world and was officially stamped with 0°00′00″E and yet still there's people who want to undermine that by shifting time zones in favour of Germany, effectively moving the meridian to there in all but name.

    You would have thought after all this time the matter would have been settled!

    As has been repeated oft in these comments, why on Earth are we putting up with France and Spain not using GMT? It's about time the EU did something to favour us, and got these minor European states to come into line with us. ;)

    Forget the Germans mind, leaving them on CET will wind them up, and that's fine by me!

  77. Matthew Forbes


    "No, GMT remains what it says on the tin, the solar mean time at the Greenwich meridiam. Currently we're on British Summer Time and won't be on GMT until clocks go back on Sunday. This also means that France and Germany *are* currently on GMT, except they know it as Central European Summer Time."

    Umm... surely if we are putting the clocks back an hour to GMT and Europe are an hour ahead of us then they are two hours ahead of GMT at the moment.

  78. Tony S


    .. changing the clocks does not add one single second to the amount of daylight available. So it is actually a fairly pointless exercise.

    It's just that people have become conditioned to thinking of a working day starting at X time and finishing at Y time. So moving the clock makes them feel better. There are those people that have to work to other people's time zones (as do we) so that all staff start at the same time across Europe. Eventually, we will have 24 hour working.

    Up until about 200 years ago, every part of Britain had it's own time based upon midday - this didn't matter because at the speed we travelled then, it was not an issue. With the advent of the trains, it was a big issue with all sort of problems with timetables - hence the start of "standard" time across the UK.

    The idea of changing the clocks came about because of the need to get people out into the fields to grow crops during the war. There was an attempt to go to a "British Standard Time" in the early 1970's but it proved really unpopular so was dropped.

  79. Rui Reis

    From Portugal with... love!

    Uhhhhh. Well here in Portugal we are somewhat retarded, so we are much obliged for the absolutely pleasant bootnote! Let me add that is quite a mature comment from a coalition of two whose countries still dispute a rock in the middle of the Mediterranean.

    P.S. Even though retarded, we still survived for 800 years or so without Spain’s help except for a little spell when, curiously, the alliance (the most ancient in Europe) between Portugal and England was put to jeopardy by something called, if I'm not mistaken, the “Armada Invencible”!

  80. umacf24

    It's perfectly simple

    Adopt a time zone where -- as near as convenient -- the sun is at its zenith at noon.

    We already have it -- it's called GMT and it lasts all year.

    People who don't like the consequences of this are the same people who have problems with the earth being round-like-a-ball. Politicians then, and we must all suffer for their limitations...

  81. Hugh_Pym

    Why BST?

    It has been suggested that the reason for changing the clocks to BST is so that an hour less overtime has to be paid during the farmers busy Spring and Harvest periods to cover the dawn 'till dusk working day. This was foisted on an unsuspecting public by the land owning gentry who formed our government at the time.

    All the 'evidence' that it is safer for children mysteriously melts away when researched.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile in the east

    All of Europe doesn't run on "european time"....don't forget about Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece and probably one or two of the others run on EASTERN EUROPEAN TIME which is an hour ahead again...

    Doesn't seem to cause any problems....

  83. Cornholio

    Come the revolution...

    As soon as I become Prime Minister, we'll be on GMT all year round. What good does BST do? I lose an hour in bed and the mornings become darker. How is that helpful?

    Oh, and Alistair Horne will be one of the first against the wall.

  84. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    A native

    American had it right when told about summertime vs normal time

    "Only white man could think that cutting 12" off the top of a blanket and sewing it to the bottom makes for a longer blanket"

    IT... because I hate all those stupid time/date functions I had to learn while doing a computering degree

  85. Anonymous Coward

    Does noone know about time zones?

    CEST is GMT + 2 (Summer)

    CET is GMT + 1 (Winter)

    BST is GMT + 1 (i.e. all Summer you have NOT been on GMT)

    GMT is followed by UK only in Winter.

    The concept of Summer Time was, I believe, introduced in the 1st World War to increase productivity at a time when daylight was more essential to many jobs and, as today, just to get up earlier or later was asking too much of the average Briton (restrictive drinking laws came in for the same reason, productivity).

    Until the railway/fast transport age, everywhere used local time based on when the sun reached the highest point in the sky, meaning that there could be a ten minute time difference or more between the Easternmost and Westernmost places in UK - made time-tabling interesting. Note, for those rabbitting on about Scottish farmers: time zones are East to West (sideways!), not North to South, hence South Africa is on the same time zone as UK and New Zealand is twelve hours ahead. Edinburgh is further West than Exeter (old trick question at school), so the West Country and Wales should be in the same zone as most of Scotland and different from London, perhaps (I like that idea, one could say that it is all ready the case culturally).

    As for computers: I am sure that it is just as easy to set your TZ to CET/CEST as to GMT/BST, at least I have got the technical knowledge to do that, or even, under UNIX, to set my own time zone settings.

    Personally, I would either set the whole of Europe, East or West, on CEST or on GMT The big advantage of time zones is cultural; as a general rule, working hours are about 0800 -1700, give or take half an hour, everywhere. With a single time zone, one would have to remember that, in say, Austria, working hours are (Summer) 1000 to 1900, in NZ, 2000 -0500 ... That may be harder to remember than just a simple offset from GMT.and culturally much harder.

    After all, GMT was agreed as a defining point not for everyday clocks but for coordination of international travel and understanding. It was done, not for nationalistic reasons but mainly pragmatic ones, such as most sailing charts at the time were produced by the United Kingdom (it being the majore maritime power, commercially and miltarily at the time) and these referred to Greenwhich as 0 and were most widely used throughout the sailing world.

    I believe that the British forces use GMT wherever they are in the world for obvious reasons.

    There is a place called Britain, or Bretagne - not a country though many of its inhabitants may wish it were so.

  86. Jacko

    @ lIsRT

    You flagged it with a joke icon, but this is exactly what the romans did.

    "How the Romans Measured Time

    One measured time in ancient days by the length of daylight. As the earth makes its way around the sun, the number of daylight hours change. For the Romans who divided the day into equal parts of daytime and nighttime, the length of those parts varied with the amount of light. Unlike our hour of a constant 60 minutes, the Roman hour could be anywhere from 40 minutes to 80 minutes. Consider Alaska where one can easily experience darkness for 22 hours with daylight of 2 hours. The Romans would have calculated the day then at one of twelve 10 minutes hours and the night of twelve 110 minute hours. The Romans never experienced such extremes of course but this example serves to clarify the idea of the division of hours or watches.

    Time was measured with sundials, waterclocks and sand glasses."

  87. Anonymous Coward

    Farmers, Cows, Clocks

    "...might benefit Scottish dairy famers, giving them some extra daylit milking time of a morning."

    Rubbish. Cows get milked at the same time of day regardless of what the clock says.

    Stop jerking my body clock around on the basis of such a lame excuse. The school run excuse is equally as lame. The benefits of daylight saving lasts only a handful of weeks before its dark in the morning and evening anyway.

  88. Archie The Albatross

    Wrong again

    The UK is in it's correct time zone. France and Spain should actually be in the same time zone as the UK, they move themselves ahead an hour just to annoy us.

  89. Rob
    Black Helicopters

    RE: China has it right

    Is that beacuse if you don't get up at the same time as Beijing you'll be arrested and quietly disappear in one of their mobile death wagons.

  90. A J Stiles

    For Chuff's Sake

    Let's just keep UTC all year round. That way, midday (i.e. the point in time when there is as much daylight afterward as beforehand) always falls around 12:00.

    Then open businesses from 07:00 to 15:00 in the height of Summer, 08:00 to 16:00 in Spring and Autumn and 09:00 to 17:00 in the depths of Winter.

    Or has the idea of business hours running from 09:00 to 17:00 (the 9:00 start was chosen before the universal adoption of electric lighting, so that a man -- for, in those days, women did not go to work -- would have light to wash, shave and dress before work) somehow become more sacred than the idea of having midday at 12:00?

  91. John70

    @jon 72: Decimal Time

    "At least nobody has suggested changing the world time to decimal.."

    Let's see...

    100 seconds = 1 minute Decitime

    100 minutes = 1 hour Decitime

    8.64 hours = 1 day Decitime

    An 8 hour working day = 2.88 Decitime hour working day

  92. Brent Longborough

    I remember the last experiment

    I can remember when the weak-witted Westminster technocrats imposed BST-in-Winter on us in the late sixties. Getting up and arriving at work while it's still dark really sucks, just the same today as it did then.

    Today, in compensation, going home in the dark sucks a lot less because there's more crap to watch on telly.

    By the way, this "historian" person should study a bit of geography - most of the UK is to the *West* of the Greenwich meridian, which means it's *later*, not *earlier*. Doh!

  93. Simon B

    Leave the bloody clocks alone!

    I hate moving clocks back and forwards, all I'll do this sunday is make it dark when i get up for work and dark when i go home.WTF do we need to change the clocks?!!! It doesnt make the number of light hours any more ffs. I'm all for scrapping this antiquated idea.

  94. JohnG

    Farmers and similar businesses

    Time is relevant because of working hours. This may be news to some but cows don't actually milk themselves - and the people who do the milking, feeding, etc. have working hours defined in their employment contracts.

  95. Captain TickTock

    Don't mention the war!

    Although there isn't a citation - Wikipedia says that France was on GMT until WWI when Germany invaded (them again!)

    What does the historian say about that?

  96. Mudslinger
    IT Angle

    @ Steven Jones, Uncle Slacky

    Once again wikipedia is wrong (shock).

    Double summer time <b>was</b> implemented during WWII, the clocks still went forward in spring and back in autumn, so the effect was the same as adopting CET would be today.

    In 1968 -71 Britain experimented with British Standard Time which was 1 hour ahead of GMT all year round.

    I have no idea why this experiment wasn't made permanent if the supposed saving of lives of schoolchildren were indeed realised.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    '6) Iceland is also a country and its natural timezone is GMT, which it uses.'

    Very sensibly they also just accept they're on the edge of the Arctic Circle and stick with GMT all year round. Yes the winters suck, but there's a: the incredible summers to look forward to, and b: the brennevin.

  98. Anonymous Coward

    @ all of you! - FFS

    its not about them imposing time on us! and its not about the Meridians either! Idiots!

    Its about daylight being useful! This article should have been publish after the clock change next week! then you might understand! its too dark to early in Winter!

    I would be perfectly happy on GMT in the Summer Time! But I would Like the daylight later in Winter! Sod BST Scrap it! GMT in Summer and BWT in Winter! (ie shift our clocks by an hour!) sod the fact that those clever euro folk already did that! its about us this time not them! Note that the Germans changed the French and Spanish clocks but did tthey change back? no they saw the Light! (Pun Intended!)

  99. Ken 16 Silver badge

    you English are just Scotlands bitch

    Get used to it or go back where you came from! (at least the anglo saxon and norman contingents).

    That will set your clocks back.

  100. Alex King

    Not a-sodding-gain

    This all really peed me off when I heard it on the news this morning, because we get the same nonsense every damn year.

    Never mind the BBC banning the BNP, ban the bi-annual time argument.

  101. Bod

    School run

    The evidence for reduction in deaths in the morning was based on a simpler age when kids used to walk to school. That issue doesn't exist any more. More kids do walk (or run) home after school however as less parents are able to pick them up at that time.

    Of course rather than messing with the time zone, they could just change the hours that schools and offices operate to fit into available daylight better.

    Nope. The time should be such that noon is when the sun is at peak. For us, that's GMT. Anyone else who doesn't set their time likewise are fools. How people live and work is up to them, not what number it says on the clock.

  102. OldCynic
    Thumb Up

    Doesn't everyone want longer summer evenings ?

    The benefits are so clear I'm amazed there are people against double-summer time. Most of us get up and go to work in the morning, and have our leisure time in the evening. I'd love an extra hour of daylight added to my leisure time. When I have to get up early for work purposes and it's broad daylight at 4:30 AM I always think - what an incredible waste.

  103. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Have a look at this map

    Note where the red line meets the Northern coast of Germany, and instead of coninuing pretty much straight down, sensibly along the Western borders of Germany, Switzerland and Italy, leaps off to thge left a bit and goes down the west coast of Spain. Who's in the wrong time zone again? Pfft.

    more to the point, does it need changing? No. Would it cause a load of trouble for everyone involved it a country's time zone were changed? Yes.

  104. Mark 65

    Err, ok

    But seeing as the Greenwich meridian (or time's reference point) runs through London why doesn't Sir Alistair fuck off and live in Europe if he wants to live in their time zone.

  105. Captain TickTock
    IT Angle

    Where will the madness end?

    Alistair doesn't like going to Paris and having to change his watch.

    What's going to happen when he starts travelling further afield?

    IT angle: have you ever worked with Time Zones in Java? I did 10 years ago - have they fixed it yet?

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Metric time

    Go metric!

    10 metric-hours per day, or "Metours".

    24 / 10 = Each metour would be 2.4 (old hours) long


  107. nobby

    UTC all the way man!

    Personally I feel that all clocks should be set to UTC. There's no need for those pesky timezones except to make it confusing to people and computers on two days of the year.

    The sheer amount of code and confusion i've been party to deal with those pesky days where there are only 46 half hours and when there are 50 half hours exceeds my capabilities of wishing to write comments on El Reg..

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thumbs up for me.

    Always been in favour of double summer time (i.e. GMT + 2 in summer, GMT + 1 in winter). During a lot of the year we have lots of daylight that is not being used by most people because its before they get up. I am sure there is an energy saving involved as well as it would be 1 hour less for everyone to have their lights on in the evening etc.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: China has it right

    Sorry - but people in the West of China simply work different hours from the East of China. It all works out fine.

    Everything is so much easier when all these little countries in Europe integrate into one. But old folk tend to delay these things by a few centuries.

  110. Anonymous Coward

    @AC at 11:28

    Yeah - I know all about times zones. In painful, agonising detail. Did you know that 75% of professional programmers cannot tell the time? I'll type this slowly so the idiots can keep up.

    A date/time without a GMT offset is






    Your shitty little UI should translate any user input into a full SI notation WITH THE FECKIN' TIME ZONE.

    The full SI notation translated into any format the user may need for display.

    Get passed a date/time with no offset? REJECT IT! Do not guess!

    When you get a date/time with an offset DO NOT 'correct' it. It's ALREADY correct you pathetic little puddle of vomit!


    It really is staggering the number of "pros" who can't tell the time. And can you imagine trying to explain UTF-8 to people like that? *cries*

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use UTC all year round!

    I seem to recall that multiple studies have shown that changing the clocks has greater costs than benefits. There are more accidents when the clocks change, for example.

    I couldn't care less whether the UK has the same time as France and Germany (or Ireland) but I'm totally in favour of abolishing BST.

  112. Vitani

    Just use GMT all year round

    If you need more daylight to milk your cows then go to bed and get up earlier, that's what people who work shifts do and they manage.

  113. Roger Varley

    UK, Ireland, Portugal and .....

    Cyprus. Although it's GMT+2, the clocks will be going back an hour just like the UK this weekend.

  114. Jesthar

    @GettinSadda - Japanese Time

    "If a country in Europe does most of its business with Japan, should that whole country adopt Japanese time?"

    When I left secondary school, the speech of the local councillor dweeb who came to speak at our leaving ceremony could basically be summarised thus:

    "Congratulations on your grades! I'm sure you're all excited about going out in to the real world, it's just a shame that the British economy is going down the tubes. Personally I reckon in ten years time we'll all have to be working in the middle of the night to sychronise with Japan's working day just to survive as a country, but I'm sure you'll cope with that."

    <sarcasm>Wow, we felt SO encouraged and enthisiastic after that! </sarcasm>

  115. Neil Bauers


    "Also as any boy scout knows that by using an analog watch you find out which way north and south is - imagine what would happen, lost scouts wandering all over the country!"

    These days, scouts know that domestic satellite dishes point more or less south. Forget analogue watches and moss on the north sides of trees.

  116. Anonymous Coward

    Same argument in Aus every year

    The softy southerners from New South Wales want us Queenslanders to join in the twice-a-year clock resetting nonsense. Maybe they should rename their state to New South Scotland.

    Living up in the pointy bit of Queensland quite close to the equator makes it even more of a nonsense for me. The length of days really doesn't vary much throughout the year. I get up at sunrise and go to sleep when I'm tired; a tried and tested system that has worked perfectly since humans first started walking on two legs.

    Beer icon because it's always beer o'clock.

  117. This post has been deleted by its author

  118. John Savard


    I had thought that Britain moved off of GMT, and to the same time zone as France, decades ago. But I think that it is crazy for Europe to try to be all under the same time zone, following the bad example of Red China. Each country in Europe should keep to GMT plus or minus the appropriate number of hours to most closely match local mean solar time for most people in that country.

    Canada and the United States are not hopelessly snarled in difficulties because they have many different time zones along their breadth, and in Europe, this should be even less of a problem, as a change of time zones would only happen when people are communicating or dealing internationally. And that involves language barriers, which are far more serious than a mere change of time zone.

    Of course, I also happen to think that the EU should heed popular demand, and go back to being nothing more than a free trade area, with no pretenses to turning Europe into a single country.

  119. Annihilator

    Ooh.. angry.

    It's like we save up all our bile and hatred for this one weekend in October.

    @mh "There's always someone grumbling about the clocks going back at this time of year but people don' t seem to complain as much when they go forwards again in Spring."

    Absolutely agreed. I have the perfect solution though. We continue to put the clocks forward in spring, but we don't put them back again in Autumn. Perfect!

    @Sarah B - agreed. Peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat.

  120. raving angry loony

    crock of shit is not a benefit

    The whole time-changing winter/summer time is a crock anyway. We have these things called "lights", they work really well, and companies keep them on all day anyway, because buildings are so poorly designed that WE CAN'T GET ANY NATURAL LIGHT ANYWAY, bastards!

    So why the hell cause untold millions in lost hours and other damages by changing the clocks twice a year? We aren't SAVING any daylight, we're just shuffling it around as if it can make a difference. Fucking politicians, it's always their fault.

  121. Sir Runcible Spoon

    @Matt Newton

    'There's no country called Britain'

    There's no fucking country called England either. I looked.

  122. Andrew_F

    Cows can't tell the time, but milkmen can

    In addition to what JohnG said, the time also matters for when the milk has to be delivered. "Saving the Daylight" (by David Prerau, Granta Books, ISBN 1-86207-796-7 and 1-86207-878-5, actually rather interesting) goes into this, and states that in one daylight-saving-time experiment, American farmers were having to get up at ~1am to get the milk in time for delivery. How this would be different with modern farming, I don't know.

  123. Trygve

    Who cares what a historian thinks about time zones?

    I don't ask my plumber to write me a prescription for contact lenses, why should I consult a past-times expert about daylight management and business coordination?

    And for all you pig-ignorant types bleating on about how Europe should be able to cope with multiple time zones - meet EET

    A good chunk of the EU is actually two hours ahead of London, not one hour, and are just fine with the arrangement. I'm sure no-one in Europe gives a stuff about what the UK does or the opinions of this loony historian, so I don't know why anyone here is paying attention. It all seems like a very contrived controversy to me.

    Timezones = no one cares so long as they don't come in stupid half or quarter hour increments (that means you, India, Australia, Canada and the rest of the awkward squad )

    "Daylight Saving" = Pure concentrated bloody nonsense. Having most of the planet arbitrarily changing what time of day it is on arbitrary dates for no good reason is just utterly pointless.

  124. Captain TickTock

    @AC 11:28

    Bretagne is in the west of France.

    Britain may refer to Great Britain, or the UK, or some village in Virginia

  125. Quirkafleeg

    Whinge, grumble, moan

    @Jimmy Floyd: “Frankly, the Scots can do what they bloody like. Give 'em their own time-zone for all I care. 'Tis a foolish Englishman that goes that far north in the winter anyway...”

    Some of us IN ENGLAND live further north than the southernmost part of Scotland. Around midwinter, dawn occurs at around the same time along the border and dusk occurs at much the same time as in central Scotland. I'm therefore with the Scots and anybody else who says that things are fine as they are.

    That said, if a change is made, I'd rather have it be the dropping of BST than switching to it permanently, though I see that lighting usage would be an argument against that.

    @Annihilator: “We continue to put the clocks forward in spring, but we don't put them back again in Autumn.”

    I look forward to GMT+13, and even more so to GMT+25.

  126. Sooty

    @jon 72

    "At least nobody has suggested changing the world time to decimal.."

    Now wait just a centon... you're clearly not a battlestart Galactica fan!

    I have had to use decimal time at work for years, all because the professionally* created time recording software, wasn't designed to handle time properly

    *some kind of profession, clearly not software development though.

  127. Ken Laing

    GMT all year

    Why can't we stick with our native GMT all year? Those that want long summer evenings will just have to "get out of bed" and start work earlier, many industries already work 8-4 centred on the daylight.

  128. Anonymous Coward

    Note to politicians: Time is meant to be a unit of measure


    Changes in time zones are ten times more disruptive than "Y2K" which they couldn't stop bleating on about. Daylight saving time I'm looking at you. Try writing a scheduling program for 24x7 operations and explain to people why there is actually a day with 25 hours, and have a person in Arizona (no DST) schedule a person in Colorado (with DST) to work during the "first" 2am that day.

  129. Colin Miller

    @Edward Kenworthy

    Err. Scots pay the same tax rates as the English, as taxation is a reserved matter.

    The Scottish government does get slightly more per-capita for non-reserved matters that England (not sure about Wales/N. Ireland) - its called the Barnett Formula.

    For students, the Scottish government has decided that education is a priority, and is spending its money on that, rather than other services.

    For council tax, Scottish Water is a Quango, and is paid via council tax.

    Glasgow council's rates are here

    Band 1991 house value C Tax per annum (before water)

    A =<£27,000 £ 808.67

    B £27,000-£35,000 £ 943.44

    C £35,000-£45,000 £1,078.22

    D £45,000- £58,000 £1,213.00

    E £58,000- £80,000 £1,482.56

    F £80,000-£106,000 £1,752.11

    G £106,00-£212,000 £2,021.67

    H £212,000 £2,426.00

  130. Anonymous Coward

    It's bloody simple.... the hell else, other that it being perpetually dark and dismal when I'm not at work, can I maintain my habitual curmudgeonly temper?

    Please can we have an icon for "Fog in channel, continent cut off!"

  131. JaitcH

    Why mess with nature?

    China has one time zone - BeiJing time. Physically it occupies 5 time zones. It is very, very light in the morning in the East - near Korea - yet in the West the same hour is where the sun is barely rising. It is hard not only on farmers but children, drivers, etc.

    My country, Canada, has 5.5 zones and presents minimal problems except, possibly, with Newfoundland time. They are Newfoundland, Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones. We say the world is ending at midnight, 12.30 in Newfoundland.

    The UK is a pitiful one hour behind (most of) Europe and Greece is one hour ahead of Europe.

    Time is determined by geography where 15 degrees of latitude equates to an hour. Don't mess with nature.

  132. G R Goslin

    Britain and Portugal?

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but Iceland and nearly all of West Africa use a time system in line with Britain and Portugal. We're not alone out there.

  133. GreenOgre

    What's wrong with the (Home Counties) English?

    Here in Canada, we have 4 timezones with a difference of 4 and a half hours from coast to coast plus Daylight Savings Time changes twice a year. We manage to communicate just fine. There are significant advantages in having an extra 3 hours to get something done before they realize you forgot about it earlier!

    Vancouver businessmen start their days at 6 or 7am to keep in touch with their Toronto colleagues.

    You w*nkers in London? If you want to talk to your colleague in Paris when they get into their office at 9:00am, GET YER ASS OUT OF BED AN HOUR EARLIER, or use your mobile on the way in.

  134. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will no one think of the Prime Meridian?

    England is the centre of time and space, and so say we all. However, I've always wondered why the calendars in England all show the same date whether they are east of Greenwich or to the west. Is it British exceptionalism run amock?

  135. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    It's not the time zone but changing the clocks

    "Summer time" was a largely British invention and didn't exist on the continent until very recently - it was first introduced in Germany about 1980. It's a silly, bureaucratic invention that causes little but trouble in daily life and as it actually runs from March until October it is actually the dominant time in our year.

    Moving the clocks backwards and forwards buggers up the body's internal clock leading to an increase in accidents for at least a month after the change in both the autumn and winter. Reduced concentration and higher traffic density mean more road accidents but the little darlings are also less attentive in school and there are more accidents at work.

    Personally, I'd prefer to keep GMT + 1 as the time zone. Which countries choose to be in that zime zone is up to them. There is absolutely no European time with countries East of Poland being on CET + 1.

    Now, we've settled that little argument: when are we finally going to ditch the pound?

  136. Anonymous Coward

    @ Tim Spence

    Tim Spence has it right: "The UK is ON the bloody prime meridian - Greenwich in London is at 0°00′00″E. This line also runs through the west of France and the east of Spain, so we're right, and it's them that's wrong."

    Well said Tim!

    Alistair Horne is a jackass who should just STFU.

  137. Marvin the Martian

    Ship/island of fools

    So there's essentially one (1) commentard* who's understood things (and the historian) rightly, and the rest is just frothing at the mouth calling the "boffin" an idiot. "bla bla. .. called GMT so rest is wrong". Yes, mouthbreathers, it's called GMT and you're not using it, you're on BST. So you're wrong.

    *Well, in the first 30odd; am not gonna read all of it.

  138. Anonymous Coward

    I have an idea

    Come the autumn we should just get our oars out and paddle our island down to the Caneries and get our full quota of daylight that way.

    Hark how grumpy everyone gets as the hours of daylight decrease.

  139. JBrown


    "I look forward to GMT+13, and even more so to GMT+25."

    +25? That would be the western part of the Aleutian Islands. The International dateline does a dog-log around them so as to keep them in the same day as the USA :-)

  140. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Save your keyboards

    I suggest saving these comments and restoring them for the appropriate Friday in October every year - would save a lot of keyboard bashing.

  141. John Angelico
    Thumb Up

    [OT] Chelsea Chariots?

    Oh, yes, you are historical, you funny Brits!

    I had a rough idea from the context, but needed to google to confirm what that meant.

    Down Under we call them "Toorak Tractors" because they became popular when purchased by wealthy city 'farmers' seeking tax deductions for "farm equipment".

  142. Just2Say

    why cant we leave things alone

    Lets make this the last change and stick to GMT forget Europe we waste too much time there anyway

  143. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not this again. We always get this this time of the year, some obsessive who can't be arsed to just buy two fucking watches (one for european time, one for proper time, comprendez?) and let the rest of us get on with our lives in peace.

    El Reg should refuse to give these people a platform, they're an unlawful party.

  144. Anonymous Coward

    10 out of 10

    But only for the Boot note, CLASSIC!!

  145. Subtilior


    We should have shorter daytime hours during the winter - say 45 mins or so, and longer ones during the summer. That would sort everyone out.

  146. woodmans

    here we go again...

    without fail, every few years some clown tries to stamp his place in history by making us european

    by getting in line with the continent. (A few years back it was Jeffery Archer, I seem to recall).

    1. We are geographically west of the rest. fact - the sun gets up here later.

    2. notwithstanding the poor scots farmers if for "economic reasons" we should be on CET, get your wage slaves to start earlier! (and let them finish earlier too) But don't inflict your money grubbing on the rest of us!

    3. Daylight saving is just that - makes more use of daylight, and must be a Good Thing (tm) cos it's energy saving.

    4. I feel much better for my rant....happy winter festivals, folks!

  147. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    The old ones are the best

    I note that the argument has resurfaced that there are fewer road fatalities when we change the clocks in winter. This is a crock for two reasons; we don't change the clocks for winter, we change the clocks for summer; and in a few weeks time it will be just as dark in the morning as it was before we reverted to GMT.

    We use BST to give us longer summer evenings. Justifications such as safety or the convenience of Scottish farmers in winter actually originate from the time when we dabbled in keeping BST all year round. At that time it was found that mid winter mornings were very dark and these arguments were used against retaining BST year round. They are not arguments in favour of changing the clocks at all they are actually arguments AGAINST changing the clocks.

    BST is there for people who like long summer evenings. The further north you go the less important it gets because the days get longer the further north you are in summer.

  148. EU time zones

    Get your facts correct

    Portugal the only country on Blighty time? What about the Republic of Ireland?

    And Greece - isn't that part of the EU? Is it on the same time zone as Spain?

    We tried having daylight saving time all through the winter many decades ago (and I'm not referring to WWII) - we didn't like it then and ill-informed comment by this author won't make us like it now.

  149. Anonymous Coward

    I have a solution

    How about we just define Mid-Day as the middle of the day, i.e. when the sun's highest in the sky? It works for sensible latitudes (though gets a bit screwy near the poles).

    Then work around that. You'll need a "Zero" line to work with it- let's just stick with the Greenwich Meridian as it's a well-known time-related landmark.

    Sound sensible?

    Oh, wait- that's what we're already supposed to have. It's just that the French can't be arsed to keep to such a sensible unit of measurement.

    What else can you expect from a country who defined mass in relation to a physical brick (which is getting lighter as time goes by) and defined distance in terms of poorly-measured distances divided by 10,000,000? Proper science is just a mystery to them, isn't it?

  150. elderlybloke

    New Zealand leads

    We are 12 hours ahead of GMT or UTS (to satisfy the French) , but we are about 30 years behind.

    Our cockies don't like daylight saving either. Especially the ones down Dunedin way .

    (Dunedin is the south seas Edinburgh)

  151. Bod

    No need for double summertime

    Just change work hours so people go to work at 5 in the morning during the summer and knock off by lunch.

    Simples. And then at midday, the sun is still bang overhead as it should be.

    No need to change clocks.

  152. Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point?

    Err, I thought the point was that some crackpot historian is telling us to shift time zones?

    Isn't that a bit like a painter and decorator giving us ideas on how to save the economy?

    He will doubtless know the original reasons for BST. He will also know about GMT. I suspect that the only piece of information he still needs is this: how easy it is to give up his stupid idea after receiving a very strong kick in the knackers.

  153. Hate2Register

    Sir Alistair is a crap Scotsman...

    If Sir Alistair's only argument for changing the UK's timezone and daylight-saving aids are that the Euros "do things differently", then maybe he should move to France or Spain.

    There is nothing new about crap Scots moving abroad, just consider Balliol, Bonny Prince Charlie, and other sell-outs. Just like the Bonny Prince, Sir Alistair (Horny) Horne is trying to invade our peace with his poncey French ways. In fact, I would assume that this guy has a French accent.

    And what is his problem with a bit of daylight saving? Perhaps he hates the extra hour in bed. Or maybe he is suggesting that Scotland, (or even just Scotland's dairy farmers) have a timezone all of their own. So (as a "99%" Scot, (no-one is 99% anything, he should know, and he claims to be a scientist)) he's saying he wants his own time-zone? And England should Eurotize?

    In fact, what is this idiot saying at all. Maybe he just hates jet-lag, or is sicking of changing his watch when he returns from Spain. Please.

    Give up, Sir Alistair. Go home to Spain or France.

  154. Charles 9

    @Stuart Gray

    Slightly off course. Yes, the time zone is best measured in 15-degree increments, but the prime meridian becomes the CENTER of the zone, which means the time measurement should only go for 7 1/2 degrees in both directions (so that they combine to form the 15-degree-wide zone). Which tells me the following: Germany and Italy are correct relative to England, France and Spain should be aligned with England (though France never will and Spain is more inclined to follow France than England), and Portugal is correct relative to Spain but not overall (they should be one hour behind England, but again...)

  155. Anonymous Coward

    @charles 9

    Would that be centre or are you American or German. Is that a thought on changing the design? Or how you assume it works? You would be wrong on both accounts The merdian is zero. Every 15 dregrees of longitutude either adjusts by one hour in addition going eastwards or reduces by one hour going westward. As there are 24 15 degress in 360 degrees of a full circle. Each degree is subsequently divided by 60 mins and these minutes by 60 secs. A knot (one nautical mile) per hour is equal to travelling 1 sec either longitudinally or latitudally.

    The French vied over the ownership as we were both large navies at the time - though we built the accurate ship's chronometer and told them where to go and 5 days and 204 years ago we backed that up and began the end of their little empire building jaunt at Trafalgar.

  156. Roby


    The same thing happens on the continent. They go from CET to CEST (Central European Time to Central European Summer Time) - at the same time as us in fact! So what is the issue here? Is he saying we should be changing the reference time so that we aren't GMT any more? Or that we shouldn't move the clocks forward/backward, in which case, it'll be a bit more confusing when half the year we're on the same time as France/Germany and half the time we aren't. Or is he saying nobody in the world should move the clocks for daylight saving (DST is also used in most of America, Canada, Russia and many other places)?

    The article is all over the place. Blighty falling into line with the rest of Europe has nothing to do with Scottish dairy farmers! And as others have said, GMT is the reference time (although now called UTC). There is no need to fall into line with the rest of Europe - for example we shouldn't have the same time as Poland and everything East of it. If anything, France and Spain should fall into line with us, and the reason they don't is because they are joined to the rest of Europe with land borders and it is convenient for them to keep the same time.

    On the subject of DST, I don't see why more light for farmers necessitates changing the clocks. They can get up at whatever time they like, they aren't forbidden from setting their alarm an hour earlier. Though, I suppose it would suck a bit for them if they have to go to bed an hour earlier than their non-farmer friends.

    I have also discovered that most of the UK have no idea what BST is and always call it GMT when arranging meetings.

  157. TeeCee Gold badge


    I've got news for you. There's no-one over here who's ever heard of CEST either, they always refer to it as CET.

    As you say though, it's the land borders. I reckon they're terrified of what would happen to road safety as thousands of drivers changed the clock settings in their cars as they crossed borders every day while also attempting to maintain control in the motorway rush hour.

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