Mark Andrews: Never mind pounds and ounces, sell petrol in gallons again

According to The Guardian, government plans to reintroduce British imperial measurements to coincide with the Platinum Jubilee is the latest frontier in the culture war, a retrograde measure taking Britain back to the stone age.

Any idea why fuel is no longer sold by the gallon?
Any idea why fuel is no longer sold by the gallon?

A gimmick it may well be, but it also poses a rather obvious question: outside the Westminster bubble, when did they actually go away?

I'm pretty sure if you ask the average person in the street how tall they are, they will give an answer in feet and inches. Likewise I have never heard a football commentator talk about a "27.4-metre shot on target", or describe themselves as living "11km from the centre of town".

Likewise, when talking about the weather, Fahrenheit is more intuitive: 30 degrees is cold, 50 middling, 70 warm, and 90 a scorcher, without complicating things with minus scores.

The bureaucrats and politicians can legislate all they want, but it's the people who decide what measures they use.

Grocer Steve Thoburn was prosecuted in 2001 for selling bananas by the pound

All that said, metrication has its place. For the complicated arithmetic needed in engineering, construction and science, there are obvious advantages of working in multiples of 10. And, obviously, in international trade, it helps to use the same measures as your trading partner. So, imperial for the Americans, metric for the French. And children should be taught both in schools, while grocers should not be prosecuted for using the measures their customers prefer.

People who stubbornly insist that we should only use one system are a bit like those who refuse to learn foreign languages "because everyone should speak English". The sort of people who Guardian readers normally call Little Englanders.

One of the consequences of the EU's ham-fisted attempts to force metrication on the people of this country is at the petrol station, where despite the fact that almost every motorist measures their car's fuel consumption in miles to the gallon, petrol forecourts have been obliged to price fuel by the litre since 1995.

Yet strangely, while the Government is reported to be lifting a ban on shops selling goods on pounds and ounces, there has been no mention of petrol forecourts.

By sheer coincidence, the price of a gallon of petrol broke the £8 barrier for the first time this week.

Good to see the police act so swiftly to remove the vegan nutters obstructing the path of the marching band during Trooping of the Colour. But if they can act so swiftly when they are obstructing a few musicians, why does it take hours to remove the idiots when they bring the motorways to a standstill?

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