At the time of writing we do not know the composition of whatever government may emerge from the current Parliamentary arithmetic. However, we can note the results of a number of supporters and opponents of metrication.
UKMA is non-party-political and enjoys the declared support (and indeed opposition) of members of all three main political parties. Most MPs find it expedient to take an ambivalent position on completing metrication – or to keep their views to themselves. The following is a limited selection of a few who have commented publicly.
Ian Taylor (C) – retired
Nick Palmer (Lab) – lost Broxtowe
Chris Huhne (LibDem) – held Eastleigh
Malcolm Bruce (LibDem) – held Gordon
Sir Robert Smith (LibDem) – held Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine
David Davis (C) – held Haltemprice and Howden
William Hague (C) – held Richmond (Yorks)
David Blunkett (Lab) – held Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
Sarah Teather (LibDem) – won Brent Central
Sir Alan Beith (LibDem) – held Berwick upon Tweed
It is too early to say how the election results might affect prospects for completing metrication in the new Parliament. On the key issue of road signs, much depends on who becomes Transport Secretary and on whether he/she is personally committed to metric completion and can persuade colleagues to agree (or at least acquiesce) in an environment of budget cuts.
6 thoughts on “Mixed electoral fortunes for metric supporters (and opponents)”
Here are a few more declared opponents who were defeated on 6 May:
Paul Clarke (Lab) Gillingham & Rainham
Andrew Dinsmore (Lab) Hendon
Sandra Gidley (LibDem) Romsey and Southampton N
Dr Evan Harris (LibDem) Oxford W and Abingdon
Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory (C) Wells
Lembik Opik (LibDem) Montgomeryshire
Bob Spink (C then UKIP)
Conservatives gained rather than lost seats, so one would not expect to find any on this list. Heathcoat-Amory’s unwise expense claims may have contributed to his defeat.
After reading a bit more about the elections and seeing mention of the possible coalition with Labour, Lib-Dems, the Scottish National Party and the Plaid Cymru, I did a little more reading and have begun to think it’s a shame Scotland and Wales do not have the authority to metricate their road signs.
If that were the case, there could have been a chance for that to happen within their borders given their desire for independence (even though the SNP and the Plaid are not majority parties even on their home turf). Were that to happen, one could then make an argument even with the Unionists in Northern Ireland that it made sense to convert given their land border with the Republic. That would just leave England proper left to convert, which most likely would soon thereafter (am I just dreaming?) see the good sense of making the change themselves.
Classic domino effect …..
None of the 3 main parties had anything to say on the completion of the UK’s metrication programme in their election manifestos, but UKIP’s manifesto stated that they,
“Oppose the metrification of British roads and speed limits.”
UKIP achieved only 3% of the total votes, and won no parliamentary seat.
It seems very odd that any leader would oppose full metrication of Britain. The issue has in the past been used as a weapon against closer links with the European Union (EU); however, since the EU has now dropped its requirement for UK metrication, that point is no longer relevant. The only real question is whether Britain deserves the best system of measurement available, or the poor 3rd best that the imperial system offers (I put the US system as 2nd best because it is used by more people than the imperial version). I think it would be an unwise politician indeed who would argue for using 3rd rate system in a great country like Britain.
Ezra Steinberg wrote “After reading a bit more about the elections and saw mention of the a possible coaliton with Labour, Lib-Dems, the Scottish National Party and the Plaid Cymru, I did a little more reading and have begun to think it’s a shame Scotland and Wales do not have the authority to metricate their road signs.”
Scotland and Wales certainly has the authority to metricate its road signs, apart from speed limits which are set by Westminster. Northern Ireland has complete freedom over its road signs as long as they comply with EU regulations.
Ezra’s and Martin’s comments are not particularly relevant to this thread, but I thought I should correct Martin’s comment. The legal advice received by the Northern Ireland Office was that although road signs are devolved, measurement units are not, and therefore the units that appear on road signs must comply with the UK’s Units of Measurement Regulations – i.e they must be imperial for speed and distance measurement. Presumably, the same considerations apply in Scotland and Wales.