It’s the small things that count…

So the British and Irish pint survives in chiming unity. It was gracious of the European Parliament to agree to a status quo that would have cost the EU dear to try to change. The English court case goes to show what can make a human rights issue. But just to show the limits of harmonisation, we parted on miles/kilometres when the Irish authorities went all European – though confusingly for a time we had a mix of local signs in both. How Oirish! The road signs “speed in miles per hour” in the North or kilometres in both languages in the Republic are just about the only evidence of crossing the border these days, apart from (in Donegal anyway) those county council signs welcoming us in German. We’d be lost without them.

One imperial casualty, though, is the acre. The European Commission had said that this imperial measure is no longer used for land registration in either Britain or Ireland and would be “repealed”.

  • Mack

    I don’t understand the half-hearted attachment to the Imperial system. Science universally uses the metric system now, and we’ve half adopted it elsewhere – which just leads to confusion.

    I guess a pint of beer is neither here nor there – but I buy litres of milk. Surely, it should be one or the other. If you love the Imperial system then adopt it, ban the metric system or vice versa..

  • Dave

    It’s good news for the British that they have resisted one of a plethora of expensive regulations that the EU imposes on the UK taxpayer and its businesses every year. By being guided by its sentimental attachment to ‘miles’ and ‘pints’ the UK taxpayer has been spared the £800 million that the UK’s Department for Transport would have to squander in order to comply with the EU’s homogenisation agenda and UK businesses have been spared the additional costs of hundreds of millions that would have been imposed on them by the need to re-label goods aimed at the American and other markets. While a couple of billion saved by resisting EU agendas is significant, it is small change compared to the additional £67 billion per year that the UK taxpayer could save if the UK withdrew from EU membership.

  • On matters EU, Brian,have you spotted this exchange between the Czech president and members of the Conference of the Presidents of the European Parliament on December 5?

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    God Save The Pint! (of the Black Stuff)

  • Here is what it is all about.
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XRLPG_HplrA

  • Brian Walker

    nevin- a riveting exchange in Prague on the Irish, Europe and the treaty. So very different from those earlier conversations between Havel and Seamus Heaney. A must read, thanks.

  • Dave,

    … the need to re-label goods aimed at the American and other markets

    Most ‘other’ markets are metric-friendly. I think you’ll find that the proportion of British-made consumer products that are sold into the EU far exceeds that sold to the US and other ‘imperial’ countries. Since products sold in Europe must be labelled in metric, then there is an additional cost to British producers, which leads to their products being less competitive and thus less bought.

    Insisting on using irrational, out of date measures just for sentimental reasons is plain stupid, and the cost will be paid by British producers (and thus employees). Britain’s GDP will be just a fraction lower as a result.

    As for ‘homogenisation‘ – how do you think the ‘imperial’ measures got to be ‘standards’? They were imposed by law on the plethora of local weights and measures in use in the past. Even time was standardised to facilitate railway travel. Would you prefer each town to have its own weights, time zones, railway guages and currencies? Pretty daft, no? So why do it at national level? These things are just the lubricant that economies use – trying to imbue them with ‘tradition’, ‘custom’ and ‘sentiment’ is retarded. The metric system is rational, easily calculable, and international. It will prevail, and the Canutes (I know, he was misrepresented) of the weights and measures world will eventually realise the foolishness of their position.

  • Greenflag

    horseman,

    ‘Insisting on using irrational, out of date measures just for sentimental reasons is plain stupid’

    More than plain -abysmally stupid .

    ‘ and the cost will be paid by British producers (and thus employees). Britain’s GDP will be just a fraction lower as a result. ‘

    Multiply that fraction by 25 years and you are soon talking about a lot more than Dave’s 800 million.

    And then theres the Euro costs . Everytime a Brit travels to abroad to Spain or Portugal , France or Germany , Ireland or Italy he gets 3 to 6% less for his money – the ‘exchange ‘ costs. Now he loses even more spending power with Sterling’s de valuation against the Euro . Britons lose billions evey year simply due to currency exchange costs. Again in 25 years this amounts to a huge loss for Britons .

    Things could get so bad that Queenie may have to forego her Corgis or sell a palace or two .

    Daft is the only word to explain it . While I can understand the attachment to a ‘I’ll have a pint of the usual ‘ instead of ‘I’ll have a litre of the usual ‘ does this justify wasting billions of pounds of your earnings on non necessary bank exchange fees in order to enjoy a week in Paris or Madrid ?

    As sterling declines perhaps few Britons will be able to travel abroad for cost reasons . Back to Bognor Regis, Blackpool and Brighton then for the grandchilden of Empire 🙁

  • Greenflag,

    While I can understand the attachment to a ‘I’ll have a pint of the usual ‘ …

    In the Netherlands (metric for 200 years or so) they still order beer in ‘pintjes‘, aka ‘little pints’. A ‘pintje’ is basically a half litre … but then that is pretty much exactly an old pint too!

    As far as I remember, in Germany (metric for 200 years or so, too) they sell plenty of stuff by the ‘pfund’ aka pound – again, they have just redefined this as 500 grams, or pretty close to an old pound.

    Intelligent people can adapt. Why not the British?

  • Devil Eire

    ‘Oirish’? Really, Brian? Why don’t you just say ‘stupid Paddies’ and have done with it?

    Ugh.

  • Really, Brian?

    Indeed. It’s those little small things that give people away. A foolish slip from someone who is, supposedly, a professional journalist.

  • DK

    “Insisting on using irrational, out of date measures just for sentimental reasons is plain stupid”

    Steady on Horseman – you’ll be telling them all to drive on the right and only speak English soon. Long live hetrogeneity, I say.

  • Nomad

    It does seem a pity we can’t move with the rest of Europe a little more.. Our southern/western neighbours managed the switch to km’s just fine. The UK’s european land border ignored again?

    What is the alternative to acres though?? Square miles/kilometers?

    Devil Eire, Horseman

    Really, Brian?

    Indeed. It’s those little small things that give people away. A foolish slip from someone who is, supposedly, a professional journalist.

    Sense of humour failure, much, lads? I don’t think it was intended as a slight and wouldn’t be read as such by most. Oh yea, and- this is a blog, not a newspaper.

  • Nomad,

    What is the alternative to acres though?? Square miles/kilometers?

    Hectare, man!

    100 metres x 100 metres = 10,000 square metres. Simple. Easy. And if you want a smaller area, try the Are: 10 x 10 metres, or 100 square metres.

  • … this is a blog, not a newspaper.

    True. But the bould Brian cut his teeth (apparently) in the wider world of journalism. I bet he would have been given an editorial bolloxing for a ‘humourous’ howler like ‘oirish’ though. That’s the kind of crap we expect from the juvenile loyalist posters.

  • Nomad

    Horseman,

    Hectare, man!

    Aaah, growing up on a farm my dad would disown me for asking that. I didn’t know hectare was metric.

  • Nomad

    Isn’t this likely to have the biggest effect?-

    Euro MPs have voted in favour of ending Britain’s opt-out from the EU working time directive.

    Britain is determined to keep the opt-out and will now start talks with EU ministers in an effort to keep it.

    The UK does not have a veto on the issue but it is expected to join forces with other countries who back its position in order to get its way.

    A decision is expected early next year following “conciliation” talks with the European council of ministers.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7786825.stm

  • Devil Eire

    Nomad,

    >>Sense of humour failure, much, lads?

    Possibly. However, judging by how the term ‘Oirish’ is frequently used here, Brian is in dubious company.

  • Dave

    “Insisting on using irrational, out of date measures just for sentimental reasons is plain stupid, and the cost will be paid by British producers (and thus employees). Britain’s GDP will be just a fraction lower as a result.” – Horseman

    Is this ‘fraction lower’ GDP prediction of yours based on anything more substantial than wild conjecture? Why would retaining imperial measurements result in a lower GDP for the UK? Would this lower GDP only occur this year but not, oddly enough, during any of the previous years that the system was used in the British Empire? You can’t show how the UK would earn a single penny via exclusive metric, whereas it is shown that the move would cost the UK billions.

    It is not for the EU or anybody else to tell the British which system they wish to use. They have decided they want to retain their system, and the EU finally conceded defeat. That is a smart move on their part in the present ratification (sans UK referendum climate). As Gunter Verheugen, Europe’s Industry Commissioner, said, “This is a pointless battle. . . there was absolutely no point at all in trying to get rid of the particular heritage of one member state.” They are absolutely right to protect their heritage from deliberate destruction by the EU’s homogenisation agenda. The argument isn’t about which system is best for Britain; the argument is about the right of the British people to decide which system is best for them.

    The UK’s Department of Transport estimated that the cost of changing the road signs alone would cost the UK taxpayer in excess of £800 million. Given that it took the Irish 28 years to adjust to reading the distances in the road signs in metric before it was deemed safe to set the speed limited in metric in 2005, there would have to be a long period of adjustment in the UK if that country was to avoid calamity on its roads as a result of the changeover. Much like the Euro changeover, the EU created a bonanza for those who sought to use confusion between the two systems to rip-off the consumer. If imperial measurements were banned, a similar rip-off of consumers would occur – especially the elderly consumers – who have difficulty making the mental conversion calculations. Most of the non-metric generation don’t have any conception of what size a window blind measuring 1200mm is. These people were severely disadvantaged by the changeover and would be lost without the dual imperial system that the EU tried to ban in the UK. As usual, the EU insists on imposing costly regulation on UK businesses. This ‘concession’ does not de-criminalise traders who conduct their business in imperial measurements alone. That is still illegal.

  • deus beus

    Irrational out of date measures!

    Like is it ok to wear a poppy?

    finding Oirish offensive cause people take themselves to seriously!!

    Yep usely find them all on here

  • Mack

    deus beus
    finding Oirish offensive cause people take themselves to seriously!!

    While I don’t find the term offensive, I do think it is disrepectful. I have never heard an unequivocal Irish person use it, only those who are either British or have a British aspect to their identity. I’d file it alongside other terms such as “West Brit” to describe the Anglo-Irish, while not offensive per se, it doesn’t convey respect exactly either..

  • poor brian

    ‘Oirish’oh dear brian your slip is showing again.