A Scottish Child Stumbling to School in the Dark. an English Child Strolling to Class in Daylight. How Berlin Time Could Spell the End of the United Kingdom

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 30, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Scottish Child Stumbling to School in the Dark. an English Child Strolling to Class in Daylight. How Berlin Time Could Spell the End of the United Kingdom


Byline: Professor Tim Luckhurst

A COMPELLING new argument has emerged to clinch the case against Berlin Time - otherwise known as Double Summer Time. This unwelcome import from the Eurozone could be the straw that breaks Britain, and the rapture with which the Scottish National Party has greeted Government plans to consult on implementation proves it.

Already euphoric about the first opinion poll in years to put support for independence ahead of opposition to it, the SNP has seized on the proposed time shift like manna from heaven. Nationalist spokesmen blame 'Tory time bandits' for plans they claim will endanger the lives of Scottish children, cripple business and plunge Scotland into perpetual darkness.

For once, P.G. Wodehouse's famous aphorism feels inaccurate. At the moment it is hard to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine because Scotland's grievance mongers are beaming with joy at the prospect that Westminster will give them a lovely new cause with which to build support for separatism.

Grievance, grudge and gripe are the Nationalists' favourite weapons against the UK state. When it was founded in 1934 the SNP had none of the social or economic ideals that characterise traditional political parties. It simply moaned about alleged injustices and appealed to Scots to unite against oppression.

Exploitation of perceived injustice to exacerbate difference has a long history in Scotland. Four centuries ago a king lost his head and England was mired in civil war after Charles I tried to convert the Scots to a new prayer book. Now, First Minister Alex Salmond exploits any perceived injustice better than any politician alive.

Mr Salmond portrays himself as an aggrieved insurgent and he deploys a sorcerer's cunning in his efforts to magic resentment into independence.

No opponent should doubt his talents. He has, after all, persuaded Scots that the [pounds sterling]14billion they receive in subsidy from English taxpayers is not just necessary but inadequate.

The truth is that Scotland's vast welfare state is wrapped in cotton wool at English expense. No arithmetical alchemy can change that blunt reality and it takes a kind of genius to turn it upside down. Alex Salmond performs the feat daily. Not only has he secured luxuries including higher health spending, free university tuition and free care for the elderly in Scotland. He has persuaded Scots that they deserve to be treated as a privileged minority and that they are always entitled to ask for more.

But Mr Salmond does face one daunting barrier. To achieve for Scotland the sovereignty to which he has dedicated his life since he led the Federation of Student Nationalists at St Andrews University, he must persuade voters in Scotland that their good fortune can be sustained without English subsidy.

To do that, he must make independence appear necessary, not just desirable in theory.

David Cameron should have thought of this before he allowed the Department for Business to start consultations that may lead to the implementation throughout Britain of the Daylight Savings Private Members' Bill put forward by Essex Conservative MP Rebecca Harris.

A pragmatist would note that the proposal has been tried before and rejected. Our clocks went forward in March 1968 and were not put back again until October 1971.

Analysis of the claimed benefits was woefully inconclusive so, in December 1970, the Commons voted by a huge majority to return to the system in which GMT begins on the last Sunday of October - today - and BST on the last Sunday of March. …

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