Hello Bishop. I was wondering how you felt about the possible abolition of Greenwich Mean Time for the UK, as proposed by all three major political parties? - Jenny
I strongly oppose it. Quite apart from the fact that there has been no meaningful public debate on the matter, this is yet another assault on our identity and tradition which will only create more confusion and bewilderment. I have never been happy about moving into British Summer Time (BST) each year (as we did yesterday), only to return to Greenwich Mean Time come the autumn. I would prefer to always be in our unique time zone. Currently the clocks go back by one hour every October, providing more daylight in the mornings but meaning that it gets darker earlier in the afternoons. The change has taken place annually since 1916 when clocks went back by an hour to give farmers more time to work in their fields. Under one proposal the clocks would go forward by an hour throughout the year, not just during the summer months but permanently. There is even a proposal for the clocks to go forward by an hour throughout the year, so the winter would be GMT+1 hour and the summer GMT+2 hours. Tory, Labour and Liberal are all agreed upon some sort of change.
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is a term originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. It is commonly used in practice to refer to Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) when this is viewed as a time zone, especially by bodies connected with the United Kingdom, such as the BBC World Service, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and others, although strictly UTC is an atomic time scale which only approximates GMT with a tolerance of 0.9 second. It is also used to refer to Universal Time (UT), which is a standard astronomical concept used in many technical fields and is referred to by the phrase Zulu time. In the UK, GMT is the official time only during winter. I would like to see us return to GMT throughout the year. GMT is substantially equivalent to Western European Time. Noon Greenwich Mean Time is not necessarily the moment when the noon sun crosses the Greenwich meridian (and reaches its highest point in the sky in Greenwich) because of Earth's uneven speed in its elliptic orbit and its axial tilt. This event may be up to sixteen minutes away from noon GMT (this discrepancy is known as the equation of time). The fictitious mean sun is the annual average of this non-uniform motion of the true Sun, necessitating the inclusion of mean in Greenwich Mean Time.
Gordon Brown has already stated that abandoning putting the clock back by an hour every October was “worthy of consideration” and raised the prospect of a three-year trial. The Prime Minister recently told tourism leaders in the West Country that he had been “thinking carefully” about the switch. Gordon Brown said he had been considering the idea on a recent visit to Afghanistan last December, where the time difference is split by half hours. He said: “We have got to keep this under review. I cannot give you a promise of a three-year trial but it is something I was actually thinking about very carefully. It is worthy of consideration. Different parts of the UK have different views on this issue as well. It is important that we recognise the different requirements in different parts of the country, but I think the savings that you are talking about are potentially real.” Ben Bradshaw, the Culture secretary who is in charge of tourism policy, said: “It is an absolute no brainer. It is high time we moved on it.” Road safety campaigners welcomed a review of the rules. Cathy Keeler, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “The practice of using Greenwich Mean Time is rooted in tradition, rather than common sense.” Opposition to the annual change has invariably come from people in Scotland where the days are shorter because it is nearer to the North Pole. The Scottish parliament might even opt to enter a different time zone if the British government decides to abolish Greenwich Mean Time. I might consider doing the same.