EU drops forcing Britain to go metric
LONDON - The European Union threw in the towel Wednesday and abandoned its plan to force Britain to phase out the use of feet, inches, pounds, ounces and gallons.Brits At Their Best was early in reporting this story.
The old imperial measures will be allowed to coexist with the EU's metric system of meters, grams and liters, rather than be dropped by 2009, the EU said.
Some British politicians celebrated the decision as a victory for common sense, and the Metric Martyrs lobbying group said it felt vindicated for its struggle against the plan that began when a trader was convicted in 2001 for refusing to sell bananas by the kilogram.
"It has been 'people power' that has forced the European Commission and the government to abandon the enforced metrication program," Metric Martyrs leader Neil Herron said in a statement. "We have saved the pint, the mile, the yard, the foot as well as pounds and ounces."
Britain, like every nation but the United States and two smaller countries, officially uses the metric system.
Cheeky and mischieveous and always the first to give to charity, Steven Thoburn begins his day at 3 am buying fruit and vegetables to sell at his stands. When the EU declares it is a criminal offense to sell "a pound" of apples or "ounces" of cheese, insisting that all foods be sold in metric weights, Thoburn asserts his right as a freeborn Englishman. Brits have been using pounds and ounces, yards and feet since before Magna Carta, and Americans still do. He wants his customers to have the freedom to choose, and he provides scales and pricing for both metric and pounds.Ah, another nail in metric's coffin!
He becomes a national celebrity after he is arrested selling a pound of bananas to an undercover council trading standards officer, and is dragged before the court. The world's press descend on Sunderland Magistrates' Court for the landmark hearing.
Helping Steven Thoburn (center) is his friend Neil Herron (second from left), a fishmonger who builds a people’s campaign to win back British freedom and end EU interference. "It was never about a pound of bananas and a set of scales," explains Herron. "It was about who governs this country." Steve is convicted, and given a conditional discharge, but the Metric Martyrs continue their battle to uphold British rights.
I remember being schooled in the 1970s, when metric was portrayed as the inevitable system, and there was a big push to "convert."
I always wondered why. What was the angle? I was suspicious of the whole project and saw no point to it; it didn't seem particularly "easier" to me to use.
Indeed, the units were very unfriendly; not very "people-sized." Factors of ten are changes in scale just too big to be convenient. It's very nice to be able to cut things in halves, and in halves again, as with, for example quarts, pints, and cups.
Twelves are also nice, as in 12 inches to a foot, because dozens can be halved, thirded, or quartered all into round integer amounts.
I always felt the real point of metricization was simply to establish a precedent for exerting a micromanaged (ha, a metric prefix!) level of sheer control over daily life and indeed over thought processes.
The effort was so large for such a terribly small tangible payoff in "easing daily life" that it seemed a thinly veiled hyper-aggressive exercise in demonstrating the sheer monstrous power of the collective's merest whim to be globally enacted; the triviality of the highly inconvenient changeover from units we were all familiar with seemed almost the end in itself.
I don't mean to claim a literal thought-out conspiracy here, but I'm sure the consequences resonated unconsciously with the one-world socialist types.
But at least there were still enough rugged individualists left in the Anglosphere to refuse to buckle to the whims of the collectivists!
Metric was a serious challenge.
After decades, it seems to finally have found its high water mark.
Time to start rolling it back!