Metric Views has learned that the coalition government may drop the proposed amendments to road traffic sign regulations, which would have required dual signage of height and width restrictions within four years and which would have achieved savings and improvements in efficiency for the UK economy in the long term.
We reported on these proposals on 10 October 2009:
We are now awaiting further information about the government’s intentions, and we will report fully when details become available.
Before the general election, both coalition parties spoke of ‘rebalancing the economy’, away from the provision of services (in particular financial services) and towards manufacture, with an emphasis on quality, value added and innovation – areas where the UK can’t be undercut, and on innovative products that others can not make. There would however need to be a focus on creating an efficient economy, with a numerate workforce, able to compete with the best in the world. Are we already seeing signs that this long term objective is being downgraded in favour of short term popularity?
A reader of Metric Views has recently written to Phillip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, on this matter. A copy of his letter appears below.
“Dear Mr Hammond:
I have just learned that you are proposing to avoid when possible metric measurements on our road transportation system. What a simply brilliant move! We’ve had far too much of this foreign metric nonsense. I must say, your proposal has already excited my friends and colleagues in Canada, Australia and South Africa, all of whom have emailed me and asked me to confirm that this is true. As you may know, all these three countries (and I believe about 188 other countries) use the metric system on their road signs. How silly is that? But then they’re all foreigners, and as you and I both know, foreigners are ignorant. We should have made Canada, Australia and South Africa and all the countries we once owned stick to their imperial road signs – let them know that it is us Brits who know what’s best for them. Cheeky upstarts, the lot of them. I will admit that my Canadian, Australian and South African friends and colleagues wondered whether this was a good thing, given Britain’s precarious foreign trade situation and all that – one even suggested that this could hurt our exports! Sends the wrong message to the rest of the world, they said. What rot! These people need to understand that the world NEEDS British imperial-designed things – far superior to all that metric designed foreign rubbish.
Now, having decided that our entire road system will, quite rightly, remain in imperial units, we should do the same with the vehicles on those roads. I mean, it doesn’t make sense to have metric cars, buses and lorries on imperial roads, does it? So I believe you should take the next logical step, and allow only imperial designed and manufactured vehicles on British roads. THAT would stop all those nasty foreign vehicles cluttering up our roads – and rejuvenate our car manufacturing industry at the same time. Now I admit this will be a bit of a challenge – every car manufactured anywhere today, including in the USA, is designed in metric. Even our British manufacturers of the day agreed to go metric – how unpatriotic is that? So there might be a few problems here and there (all the bits that go in these cars – things like tyres, light bulbs, minor things like that – are all currently made to metric standards). But nothing that, I’m sure, a good old bit of British knowhow and ingenuity can’t overcome. Show Johnny foreigner a thing or two, I’ll wager.
Of course, with our imperial-only roads and the imperial-only vehicles on them we will have to educate the rest of the world in imperial units – if they want to sell their nasty German, American, Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish and Italian tin boxes here, that is. What a golden opportunity for our universities! We all know British education is the best in the world – this will REALLY prove it to all those ignorant foreigners who don’t know the difference between a stone and a furlong. Hundreds of thousands of foreign engineers, designers, professionals of every kind, who all now need to know how many inches in a mile and how many yards in a foot. Did you know Mr Hammond that there are 5.7 billion metric-only foreigners in the world, many of whom now might need to learn imperial measurements? I bet they can’t wait to get started! And there are 300 million other foreigners that also need to be taught our proper British imperial system, and will need re-educating. Currently they use their own system called US Customary – but they’ve got it all wrong! (Just as they did when they argued with us over some stupid tea.) Their gallons and bushels and tons and fluid ounces are all different from ours! Don’t these people understand that our British imperial system is the best? It’s unique in the whole world – NO-ONE ELSE USES IT! How cool is that?
Finally, as you are obviously firmly convinced – and the entire rest of the world will agree with you – that we British should revert to the 19th century imperial measuring system for our entire transportation infrastructure, we should bring back some of the 19th century traffic laws as well. The worst thing we did was repeal the red flag act in 1896 – the one, you may recall, that required a man with a red flag to walk in front of every motor vehicle. Do you know what the repeal of that law did to the flag industry in this country? It decimated (sorry, wrong word) – it all but destroyed it! Factories up and down the country making red flags had to shut down. Now, if we brought back that law, all those foreign countries that never had a red flag act would see how wonderful it would be (especially in terms of traffic deaths – we all know that speed kills, don’t we? I see signs everywhere telling me so). All those 191 silly metric countries will now enact their own red flag laws, following our superior British imperial lead – and will be beating down our doors wanting to buy our superior, imperial red flags. What a golden day for British industry that will be.
Mr Hammond, your proposal to revert to imperial-only represents a truly brilliant piece of strategic thinking – the kind of forward-looking thinking that we British are noted for. It sends a clear message to the rest of that horrible metric world out there – and will certainly make the rest of the world sit up and take notice! We’ll show ’em! It makes you proud to be British!
Well done, sir, and a jolly good show!