Christopher Booker's Notebook
25th February 2006
Lord Kinnock calls for the UK's roads to be signed in metres by the time of the Olympics
For a chap who spent years campaigning for the abolition of the House of Lords and was elected to Parliament by calling for Britain to pull out of "Europe", Neil Kinnock hasn't done badly. He is now a lord himself and, as a former European Commission vice-president, enjoys a pension of £75,000 a year - one condition of which is that he must promote "European integration".
This is doubtless why he has been wheeled on by the UK Metrication Association to head its campaign for the use of miles to be made illegal on Britain's road signs. This tiny but tireless pressure group has been squeaking away for years about how silly it is that we still use miles, which, as Kinnock points out, "contradicts the image of our country as a modern, multicultural, dynamic place".
It is time, says the great man, that we followed the example of the Irish, who metricated their roads last year. We must spend a mere £80 million on eliminating the hated mile by the time the "all-metric Olympic Games open in London in 2012".
What the noble lord didn't perhaps grasp was that changing our road signs (opposed by more than 80 per cent of respondents in the latest poll) would actually cost £800 million, according to the Department for Transport.
And the figures from Ireland show that the switch to metric is far from an unqualified success: last year, both road deaths and speeding offences soared.
As for those "all-metric Olympic Games", I leave the last word to "Metric Martyr" Neil Herron, who points out that the country likely to win most medals in 2012 is the non-modern, non-multicultural, non-dynamic United States - which is also still, of course, non-metric.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
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