SO, the government wants to bring back imperial measurements – pounds and ounces, feet and inches but hopefully not pounds shillings and pence. Really? Does the government really want to do this? Welcome to the world of ‘dead cat’ politics.

For the uninitiated, the dead cat strategy is particularly associated with the Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby and is the introduction of a dramatic, shocking, controversial or sensationalist topic to divert attention away from a more damaging topic.

Of course, Boris Johnson employed Crosby as his campaign manager during the 2008 and 2012 London mayoral elections so our dear prime minister is well aware of the tactic.

The idea is that when you find yourself in a particularly difficult political position, you throw a metaphorical dead cat on the dining room table.

Johnson is reported to have said of the tactic: “People will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’. In other words, they will be talking about the dead cat – the thing you want them to talk about – and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

So step forward imperial weights and measures. Forget the 30,000 new Covid cases a day. Forget the 135,000 and rising Covid deaths. Forget the shortage of lorry drivers and disruption to the national supply chain. Forget the shortage of seasonal workers meaning crops are rotting in the fields.

Forget the devastation to the fishing industry, the border in the Irish sea or the fact the Tories are so short of political talent that Nadine Dorries is now the culture secretary. Don’t forget, Dorries was suspended as a Conservative Party MP after failing to tell anyone she was appearing in the 2012 I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here. Her claim to fame is that despite eating a camel’s toe and an ostrich’s anus, she was still the first to be voted out of the jungle. Culture? I don’t think so.

So yes, let’s stoke the culture war and poke the European Union mandarins in the eye by bringing back the good old days of 12 inches in a foot, 240 pence in the £ and 16 ounces in a lb. By the way, I am old enough to have been taught all those measurements at school and didn’t have to look them up.

Yes, nothing says modern, forward-looking global Britain than by using a system of weights and measures that take us straight back to the 1970s.

But in reality, this is just another dead cat. Imperial measurements have never gone away and metrification had nothing to do with us joining the common market and much more to do with bringing us into line with Commonwealth countries, particularly Canada and Australia.

So how tall are you? I’m 5ft 11in not 180.3cm. How heavy are you? In an ideal world, I’d be 12 stone not 76.2kg. When I go to the pub, I ask for a pint, not 568ml.

Have you bought a new tyre for your car recently? The diameter is shown in inches and that’s the same all around the world.

Do you want to buy some half-inch pipe fittings? Absolutely no problems.

What’s the speed limit on your road? On mine it’s 20mph not 32kph.

As I said, imperial measurements have never gone away and have never been legislated against because of our membership of the EU.

But there is some legislation. According to the government’s website: “You must use metric measurements (grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres) when selling packaged or loose goods in England, Scotland or Wales.”

But, and this is a big but: “You can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement.” As I said, Imperial measurements have never gone away.

So I won’t be asking if I can buy a quarter of tea, 5lbs of potatoes or a gallon of petrol. I would, however, be asking exactly what the government is trying to distract us from by throwing the imperial ‘dead cat’ on the table.

Given that the only people for whom imperial measurements actually mean anything are pensioners, perhaps it’s a not so subtle attempt to move the narrative away from the ditching of the pensions ‘triple lock’ or maybe the fact that working pensioners are going to have to start paying some National Insurance on their earnings.