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Mark Andrews on Saturday: Banksy, Boris, and travel on the buses

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Let's get this right. An unidentified individual sprays graffiti of a couple of reindeer on a wall in a rundown part of Birmingham, and the luvvies descend from near and far to celebrate a hugely significant work of art. A short while afterwards, an unidentified individual – presumed not to be the same person who did the original graffiti – adds red noses on the deer, and it is immediately condemned as mindless vandalism.

The only difference, as far as I can see, is that the original act of vandalism was thought to be by the celebrated 'artist' known as 'Banksy'.

Not that I'm saying modern art is pretentious.

* * *

Always one to take advice from the great and the good, I left the car at home and took the bus on two occasions during the past couple of weeks. To be honest, it was not an entirely rewarding experience.

On the first occasion, an electronic sign said the bus was imminent, only to go blank and then change to say there would actually be two buses in 23 minutes. I paid eight quid for taxi.

The following night, I turned up five minutes before the 8.23 service was due, which turned up half an hour later. When it was joined by the actual 8.53 service, the two near-empty buses running in tandem for the rest of the route.

This didn't really matter as I was on my way to a beer festival, but it would have done had I turned up half an hour late for work.

But also, perhaps somebody will tell me how two barely occupied vehicles running in convoy while doing 6mpg represents an environmentally friendly alternative.

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* * *

Well that was fun, wasn't it?

After six turgid weeks, we can finally put the dullest, most tedious election campaign in living memory behind us. Six weeks of never-ending television debates filled with soundbites and platitudes. A campaign dominated not by ideas or policies, but about who said what to who, about who made which gaffe, and who appeared on which television debate.

But worse than that, it has given rise to tribalism of the nastiest kind, be it rent-a-mobs turning out to jeer or worse at their opponents, online abuse on social media, or the charming new development where a supposed friend of one of the candidates secretly recorded his indiscreet comments and leaked them to the media.

Perhaps now, with the next election hopefully a good five years away, we will learn two lessons. One, that the six-week campaign specified by the Fixed Term Parliament Act is way too long. It needs to be cut to the three or four weeks like it was in the past.

And secondly, perhaps next time we will remember how fortunate we are to live in a democracy that offers us a free choice of different parties. Whichever side of the fence we are on, there is no excuse for spewing hatred, abuse and bile at others just because they hold a different viewpoint. Remember, no opposition means no democracy.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

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

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