Why should the UK move to GMT+1? And do we really need “daylight saving time”?

As I wondered around the house this morning resetting a plethora of clocks (two ovens, four heating themostats, two wall clocks in the childrens’ bedrooms, fixed-line phone, two mobile phones, two cars – thankfully the computers, PVR, radio, some of the mobile phones and many other devices change themselves), I did have to wonder “what is the point?”. Maybe it’s because my son woke me at 5.30 (because his body clock has not suddenly changed overnight) and consequentially I’m grumpy…

At this time of year, the media churns out the same old stories (it must be great for editors – rehash the article from 6 months ago and put it out again) and the gist is always that someone wants to change the time zone that the UK operates on, the Scots don’t want to (because being 500 miles north does make quite a difference), meanwhile someone else thinks it would be good to be on the same time zone as the rest of Western Europe (except Ireland).

But this is England. The Greenwich Meridian runs through London. Universal time is based around Greenwich Mean Time. Why should we suddenly end up on GMT+1 in the winter and GMT+2 in the summer? Why do the clocks need to change at all?

Some will argue road safely concerns in the winter – but we either have to travel to work/school in the dark or travel home in the dark so that doesn’t make much sense to me. I believe that the original intention with daylight saving time was to increase the available hours for farming – except that farmers work all hours, and it doesn’t actually increase the number of hours in the day when we have daylight or darkness! With modern machinery the farmers where I live work through the night at harvest-time, so I don’t really see that being an issue.

Advocates of a switch in time zone are suggesting harmonisation for businesses in the UK and continental Europe to work the same hours. But how many businesses really work from 9-5? There are still local customs that lead to long lunches and late evenings in some parts of Europe; I certainly don’t get to go home because the clock has hit a certain time; and, anyway, business is global these days – we’re all well used to working across timezones.

If we do have to mess with the timezones, why would it even have to apply in Scotland (who are vehemently against any further variation in “daylight saving time”)? Unlike England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland has it’s own parliament and can elect to do whatever it likes (the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies have some powers too). Australia and the United States work across multiple timezones (I’m sure some other countries do too) – so could the UK, if that’s what it takes (although we are tiny in comparison)! I don’t know too much about the US (except that East cost is 5 hours behind us and the west coat is 8; and that their clocks change at a different time of year so I always miss at least one conference call!) but some Australian states don’t even observe DST. So why not abolish DST in Engalnd and Wales, and let Scotland decide what it wants to do? Northern Ireland could probably abolish DST too, but I can see why they would want to follow Éire’s lead.

It seems to me that daylight saving is an outdated concept, that (in England at least) causes disruption twice a year for no real advantage. So, instead of moving forward yet another hour, I propose we stay on GMT indefinitely!

See also:

A brief history of timezones

4 thoughts on “Why should the UK move to GMT+1? And do we really need “daylight saving time”?


  1. I’ve thought this ever since I learnt the “farming” reason back in lower school!
    It just makes no sense to change clocks in England/Wales. Nothing is gained.

    Before GMT England used to have many different “time zones” as it was normally based on the sun’s position in the sky. A Cornwall-based friend of mine always remarks how he thinks Cornwall still should be on a separate time to middle-England.

    There is a difference between different time zones and the argument for not changing the clocks twice a year. I think some people confuse the two.

    (btw, typo in the 4th paragraph. I think you mean safety not safely)


  2. @Thom – there’s all sorts of interesting history, like the concept of “railway time”. However we look at it, DST seems to have become an irrelevance today.

    (thanks for pointing out my typo – I will correct it!)


  3. Mark, You could go for UDI on this and stay with GMT regardless of what everyone else is doing. Would certainly make life more interesting!

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