Contrary to the twisted rhetoric coming from the Conservative Government, the European Union (EU) never forced UK to abandon imperial measurements. The cheap politics played with this subject is designed to create a false narrative. Sadly, one that got an extensive outing during the Brexit referendum debates in 2016. The UK adopted metric measurements in the mid-1960s, with historic imperial measures continuing beside metric. Miles, pints, yards, and alike are part of everyday British life. There’s no public demand to change the status quo. That is, except for die-hard campaigners and jingoistic journalists. Conservative propaganda on imperial measurements is a distraction from the real and dramatic increases in the cost of living.
Consumers and industry benefit from international standardisation. It eases and enables economies of scale, price transparency, movement of goods and education and training. Major UK retailers have commented that returning to solely imperial weights and measures is complete and utter nonsense. It’s a romanisation of lost era when the map was coloured pink with the British Empire. Modern Britain needs the best set of measures available.
Calling proposals to bring back imperial units a Brexit “opportunity” prompts genuine despair amongst many people. Today, the UK pragmatically works between some remaining imperial units and the universal metric system, as used almost everywhere else in the world.
The decimal system for currency was introduced in 1971. Factors of ten are now ingrained in the education and training of everyone in the UK. I’m sure, noone sane wants to reverse decimalisation. If they, do it’s probably a tiny cohort of people who prefer Roman numerals and Latin to be used in all public documents. Living in the past, and returning to shillings and pence will just make people poorer.
Bringing back imperial measurements, as primary weights and measures would signal to the world that the UK prefers to be seen as a living museum rather than a progressive nation.
Even those politicians promoting such ridiculous proposals haven’t thought it through. Just imagine filling up a British car with petrol listed in gallons rather than litres. It took a long time to make that transition. When petrol was last listed in gallons the price was under £2 per gallon. Now, the pumps would show over £8! Whatever the logic, the public reaction to that sharp change would be vocal. Demands for an immediate cut in fuel duty would likely follow.
The Conservative Government’s consultation maybe heavily loaded but it’s important that people respond. There’s no good reason to issue a blank check for a foolish policy.
Make your views known. Let’s not go backwards. The past should enlighten, not suffocate.
Post Note: As inflation rages on, so it has been reported that a full tank of petrol, for the average car, now costs over £100 in the UK. Media reports chose not to use imperial or metric units to describe this price hike in their headlines. The new unit is: One Tank. When comparing petrol cars with electric cars, I suppose it can usefully to use this to equate to One Charge. Our lexicon of common units continues to evolve.