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Moving the clocks forward an hour to align our timezone with Europe would benefit all parts of the UK. It would be good for Scotland – but the Scottish government will oppose it (working against the interests not just of UK citizens, but of Scottish ones). It is a classic example of a good policy bedevilled by bad politics. Scottish opposition focusses on road accident figures from the previous trial – 40 years ago. This lead to heart rending stories of Scottish children being killed on the way to work, which persuaded parliament to abandon the trial. In fact, the figures were bogus, and were revised afterwards to show that Scottish children's lives were saved (statistics collection in those pen and paper days was rather patchy; another thing that has changed is that children are less likely to walk to school now, and more likely to be driven, making it safer for them).  But it was too late – the myth of English people being prepared to sacrifice the lives of Scottish school children had become a lodestone of Scottish politics. As you can see from Alex Salmond's comments recently, it still is. It is sort of the SNP version of the wilder shores of euroscepticism – the fact a claim is untrue doesn't matter, because it serves its political purpose of scaring voters about the evil intent of outsiders. Changing time zones is an extraordinary political gift to Salmond – it would probably become the focus of his independence referendum, and it would probably even hand him victory. In fact, he's probably secretly hoping we do change  the timezone, for just this reason. This is why No 10 are so convinced the Scots will never change their position. There is another way, which would shoot the SNP fox in more ways than one – move the time zone while devolving control over it to Edinburgh (thus undermining arguments for independence). If they want to move the clock back an hour from the rest of the UK, let them. The PM has previously opposed this, saying a United Kingdom must have a united time zone, but it would be a way of ensuring a good policy is also good politics.

60 comments for: Anthony Browne: Move the clocks forward an hour

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