Monday, November 22, 2010

The Mail, Dan Hannan and never having to say you're sorry

Blogging has been even thinner than usual: despite much to write about, I have found so little time. Fittingly, perhaps, I choose to break my silence by focussing on time, or rather time zones.

Since daylight saving was first adopted in the UK in 1917 (interestingly, one year after Germany had already done so), there have been various attempts to get the best use out of daylight. During the Second World War there was even "Double Summer time", while in the late 1960s I can remember that clocks stayed on GMT+1 all year for several years. In short there is nothing ordained about the time zone in the UK. In recent years however, the UK has settled on GMT in the winter and "British Summer Time (BST)", i.e. GMT+1 in the summer.

There are pros and cons about reverting to GMT for the winter- it does allow more daylight in the morning hours, but of course this is at the cost of an earlier dusk. For school sports, such an arrangement is not ideal, and in any event in the far north and west sunrise is still very late anyway. So, as I say, pros and cons and it is a fair argument to have.

Fair, that is, unless you read the Daily Mail. The reaction to the idea of changing the time zone (and by coincidence having the same time zone as some other parts of Europe) has been borderline hysterical. "Join our campaign against BERLIN TIME" etc.

What a load of horseshit.

Apart from the fact that there are multiple time zones inside the EU- I, for example, am living in a time zone 2 hours ahead of GMT and 1 hour ahead of Berlin- this kind of knee jerk anti-Europeanism is fatuous in the extreme. The debates about whether we should move time zones is about the quality of of life in Britain and nowhere else: for goodness sakes the MP who is proposing the move is a Conservative !

So should we chalk it down to the usual dim wittedness of the right wing press?

Well another Right wing journalist (not, please note, a banker or an economist) is Dan Hannan. He of course has been gloating over the travails in the Eurozone for some time. Though only a total ignoramus would propose- as he did- that Ireland should adopt the Pound Sterling in place of the Euro. The economy of Ireland, and especially its history, make such a proposal not only wrong but even offensive to many people in Ireland. Such "Little Englander" triumphalism belongs in a sixth form debate, not in serious politics: but then Hannan would say that since he is an MEP, he is not a serious politician anyway, so perhaps we have something we can all agree on.

Virtually the only currency weaker than Sterling recently has been the Greenback. The Euro has risen in value against both those former reserve currencies.

The fact is that the Euro is not dead, and the crisis is forcing the Eurozone members to face a necessary and serious reality check- and it is only the advent of the coalition in the UK that has forced Britain to take the same decisions. Nevertheless, let us not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Hannan asks those who support the Euro to "apologise".

Will he apologise, I wonder, if Sterling continues to devalue against an intact Euro over the next year?

I doubt it- the world view of the right wing press admits no error- secure in absurd bigotry they will continue to bathe in paranoid fantasy for many years to come. The trouble is that they make life so unpleasant for the rest of us.

As for the Euro: the crisis is certainly not over with the Irish bail out. However it may prove to be the beginning of the end.

1 comment:

Alasdair said...

Am I wrong in thinking that until they entered the ERM and the UK didn't that the pound sterling was exactly what the Irish used - or rather that the Irish punt was tied to parity with sterling (which is a distinction without a difference I think)?