Mark Andrews on Saturday: Priorities, snakes and dinosaurs

Read the latest column from Mark Andrews.

Not an acceptable face covering
Not an acceptable face covering

David Thompson says he is lucky to be alive after being hit with a shovel an inch from his jugular in an unprovoked, broad-daylight attack in Bilston. Nine hours later, police got round to asking him what happened.

And, despite police knowing the identity of his attacker, who had several previous convictions and was on bail at the time, it took another three weeks before the man was arrested. He was later released without charge due to lack of evidence. Mr Thompson says police told him they could not attend when the attack took place because there were only 14 officers on duty across the whole of Wolverhampton and Walsall at the time.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel is encouraging people to grass up their neighbours to the Old Bill if they spot any breaches of the Government's new 'rule of six' taking place.

Hmm, good luck with that.

* * *

What usually happens with this sort of thing is that the authorities are red hot at dealing with the dinner party with one-too-many guests, but not nearly so tough when it involves a dozen or more drunken hooligans standing on the street corner. And if they're nursing a political grievance as well, all bets are off.

* * *

Meanwhile, public transport chiefs in Manchester have ruled that wrapping a live snake around your face does not constitute a legitimate face covering.

This comes after a man did just that when he got on a bus in Salford. A Transport for Greater Manchester spokesman said that although “a small degree of interpretation” can be applied to coronavirus rules, a python round the chops isn't really complying with the spirit of the legislation.

Dunno, I'm not so sure. A 16ft snake might not be effective at covering the face. But it doesn't half help with the social distancing.

* * *

This time last week, I had little sympathy with Boris Johnson regarding the row over his Brexit deal. How could any prime minister justify breaking his own treaty in defiance of international law, a few months after signing it?

But that was before Sir John Major and Tony Blair waded in with their objections. Suddenly the whole thing seems much more palatable.

Dinosaurs: Sir John Major and Tony Blair

* * *

Do these dinosaurs not realise that almost anything they say will be met with knee-jerk opposition simply because their own legacies are so toxic?

Mr Blair airily declares that breaking international law would demean Britain's standing. Unlike his totally lawful war in Iraq, which provided a huge boost to our reputation around the world, I suppose.

As for Major, it was his Maastricht Treaty which created this mess in the first place. Had he shown the humility to listen to the people of this country, instead of dogmatically playing the 'good European' abroad, it is highly probable we would still be a member of a loose free-trade body called the EEC. Which did not involve political union and a threat to our sovereignty. And the word 'Brexit' would never have even existed.

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