Mark Andrews on Saturday: Cat's not the way to win friends in the Black Country

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read Mark Andrews' latest column.

George Galloway doing his famous cat impression on Big Brother

THE Extinction Rebellion mob have been out in force again, this time parking a glass fibre boat outside the entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice.

While any normal person would have their vehicle towed away for obstructing the highway, this lot got the full guard of honour, with about a dozen police officers standing around it. All I can say is that it’s a good thing there isn’t a crime problem in London.

The Extinction Rebellion boat arrives in London, towed by a giant 4x4

This latest protest did make me think though. Up until then, I had never really given much thought to how Extinction Rebellion managed to manoeuvre a large-ish boat around the streets of London. But the latest pictures do show the answer. It was towed by a filthy great 4x4, with a carbon footprint the size of Cornwall.

Let’s hope they paid the congestion charge.

THE people of West Bromwich have had a few ups and downs over the years. Despite the excellent New Square shopping centre, the town centre isn’t what it used to be. Then there was the debacle over the Public arts centre, which in reality turned out to be just a very expensive public toilet. And the town’s football team faces another season in the old Second Division after missing out in the play-offs.

Still, here’s something for West Bromwich to celebrate: George Galloway’s in town. Well sort of. He won’t actually be living in the Black Country, at least not ‘unless or until’ he is elected. But fresh from his dismissal from Talk Radio – for a particularly offensive Twitter message that would make Donald Trump blush – he’s now got his sights on becoming the town’s next MP, taking the fight to deputy Labour leader Tom Watson.

Now this should be entertaining.


In one of his first interviews following his announcement, the celebrity cat impersonator was asked whether he knew enough about West Bromwich to actually represent the area.

He replied: “Over the past decade I have been in an out the Greater Birmingham area all the time.”

Greater Birmingham? I think we’ll take that as a no, then.

MEANWHILE, in the real Birmingham, council leader Ian Ward says he aims to encourage people to use public transport by making car journeys slower.


Nice to see a bit of positive thinking. Presumably, he believes a few more anti-car measures will see his city’s bus services packed to the rafters with plumbers carrying huge bundles of copper pipes, builders with hodfuls of bricks, and kitchen fitters with flat-pack shaker units.

Now fortunately, whatever Councillor Ward decides to do in Birmingham is probably not going to have much of an impact on my life, apart from a bit of inconvenience when going to Villa games. But the idea that we can all be cajoled out of our cars and vans by punitive measures shows a great lack of understanding about why most of us are on the road in the first place.

My daily commute takes about 45 minutes by car, or two hours by public transport. That’s two-and-a-half hours lost every day, and then there’s the problem of getting to and from jobs once actually at work. It’s just not viable, and no amount of hectoring will change that.

I don’t suppose it ever occurs to Councillor Ward and his ilk that if they make car journeys quicker rather than slower, vehicles will spend less time belching out fumes into the atmosphere? Thought not.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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