The time lords


The European parliament has voted to stop the practice of switching clocks forward and backward every year, from 2021. I’ve long thought this practice rather odd. Imagine that a government were to pass a law stating that from April 1 every person must wake up one hour earlier than they habitually do, and go to sleep one hour earlier. All shops and businesses are required to open an hour earlier, and to close an hour earlier. The same for schools, universities, and the timing of private lessons and appointments must also be shifted. Obviously ridiculous, even tyrannical. The government has nothing to say about when I go to bed or wake up, when my business is open. But because they enforce it through adjusting the clocks, which seem like an appropriate subject of regulation and standardisation, it is almost universally accepted.

But instead of praising this blow struck for individual freedom and against statist overreach, we have Tories making comments like this:

John Flack, the Conservative MEP for the East of England, said: “We’ve long been aware the EU wants too much control over our lives – now they want to control time itself. You would think they had other things to worry about without wanting to become time lords,” he said, in an apparent reference to the BBC sci-fi drama Doctor Who.

“We agreed when they said the clocks should change across the whole EU on an agreed day. That made sense – but this is a step too far,” Flack added. “I know that farmers in particular, all across the east of England, value the flexibility that the clock changes bring to get the best from available daylight.

So, the small-government Tory thinks it’s a perfectly legitimate exercise of European centralised power to compel shopkeepers in Sicily and schoolchildren in Madrid to adjust their body clocks* in order to spare English farmers the annoyance of having to consciously adjust the clocktime when they get out of bed to tend to their harvest. But to rescind this compulsion, that is insufferably arrogant.

*Nor is this a harmless annoyance. Researchers have found a measurable increase in heart attacks — presumed attributable to reduced sleep — in the days following the spring clock shift. A much smaller decrease may accompany the autumn shift back.

3 thoughts on “The time lords”

  1. Call it daylight savings time in the US- we change the clocks in the spring and fall- and it is forever the bane of my existence. This year it occurred during a holiday and I still couldn’t sleep right for a week.

    1. I didn’t call it daylight saving time — summer time in Europe — because there’s some disagreement about whether the “problem” is summer time or winter time. I think many people would prefer to remain permanently on summer time.

      1. Oh so you guys call it daylight savings too? There was a typo in my comment that looks like I was telling you to call it daylight savings time- my bad- I meant to say *We call it…*

        I’ve never really thought about which time set is more preferable of the two. Personally, I suppose I would prefer to stick to the winter time, but once my biological clock is set I just want that thing to stay right where it belongs. Hopefully our governments will soon see the outrageous uselessness this practice carries.

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