David Willetts is a Tory Time Lord protecting the UK from surefire destruction

We all know about the leap year, but the leap second? It's now under threat, but our beloved science minister is here to save it

 

Share

In a political world beset by short-termist manoeuvring for tactical gain, what a delight to celebrate a long-term strategic thinker.

While more trivial eyes are diverted by esoterica, the Conservative Science minister David “Two Brains” Willetts focuses on the grand picture and, to this end, is engaged in a battle with a Franco-American axis bent on destroying British life as we know it.

For reasons connected with the irregularity of the Earth’s rotation with which I would not burden you even if I understood them, the planet’s official timekeeper (an international body with the abbreviation IERS) occasionally adds a second to the clock: since 1972 there have been 25 “leap seconds” inserted to keep the Earth in perfect sync with the Sun.

Yet we now find the French and Americans ganging up on us in an attempt to jettison the leap second, which they claim causes computer glitches.

This would shift Greenwich Mean Time westward towards the US, and however cute a metaphor for the special relationship power imbalance that might be, Mr Willetts is having none of it.

He was deeply concerned, he said last week, that “without leap seconds, we will eventually lose the link between time and people’s everyday experience of day and night”. He has pledged to defend them when the IERS meets in Geneva next year.

There is not a moment to lose. Without the leap second, at the current loss rate of half a second per annum, what is now noon in the UK would become 11am in only 7,200 years; while, by the autumn of 43983, you’ll be getting up for work in the pitch dark at 2.15am.

We wish him well with his most crucial defence of traditional British values since he blamed the stagnation of social mobility on the part played by feminism in sending women to the workplace.

Whether that was caused by him slipping through a vortex in the fabric of space-time back to 1972, or by some sort of leap-second-related temporal paradox, this much is plain.

On the basis that two brains trumps two hearts in any Time War, whenever Peter Capaldi quits Doctor Who, the real life Tory Time Lord must succeed him.

Mind control, with minor variations for authenticity

In a dramatic and seemingly malign development in the field of telepathy, Tony Parsons’ mind has fallen under Nigel Farage’s control. In replacing his regular Sun on Sunday column with the contents of a Ukip election leaflet, Tony points out that far from being a racist himself, he is all for immigration as long as it’s the right kind of immigrants. “Let’s have our borders open to the doctor from India and the teacher from New Zealand and the engineer from Japan,” he writes. Compare that with Nigel’s big-hearted welcome, while being clinically dismantled by LBC’s James O’Brien on Friday, to “doctors from New Zealand or engineers from India”. It was brave of him to tweak the script, and to add the Japanese to the roster of acceptable immigrants (no doubt Tony’s Japanese wife enjoyed the shout-out), though what he made of a Sun leader attacking Nigel’s Romanian comments as blatantly racist is not yet known. Perhaps Tony will return to the matter next week, once the telepathic link has been restored and he’s had a chance to transcribe Nigel’s thoughts.

Rich List clearly fails the Mr Tony test of veracity

The accuracy of the Sunday Times Rich List has been the source of perplexity for years, and yesterday’s renewal of this annual festival of greed and vulgarity offered a handy hint by omission. If Mr Tony Blair, the Croesus of retired global statesmen, was an absentee from the top 1,000, despite the lowest entrants being valued at a paltry £87m, it is not wildly accurate, would be the natural guess.

Forget peak oil – scrumpy and novelty songs will save us

Taking their overdue place alongside such earlier legends as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell on the honours board of politicised folk musicians are – but I think you’ve already guessed – the Wurzels.

The Mummerset troubadours, who are presumably lionised in Richard Littlejohn’s new book Why Everything Was Perfect In the Seventies Before PC Went Mad and Stopped Us Beating Up Poofters (God I Miss Spangles and Proper-Sized Wagon Wheels Press: £3 9s 3d), have recorded “The Mendip Windfarm Song”.

 “We started our own action group with Ernie, Jack and Sue/ And sat around the pub all night deciding what to do,” one verse of this protest song about the scenic iniquities of the turbine relates. “We spoke to all the village folk, who made it very clear/ They’re noisy and they’re ugly and nobody wants them here.”

Dylanesque indeed. Curiously, the lyric fails to address the question of how to resolve the approaching energy crisis. But the Wurzel answer, my friends, is not blowin’ in the wind.

@MatthewJNorman

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nai or Oxi: whether Greece says Yes or No today its citizens will continue to struggle  

Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy

Rupert Cornwell
George Osborne likes to think of himself as the greatest political mind of his generation  

Budget 2015: It takes a lot of hard work to be as lucky as George Osborne

John Rentoul
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test