Political column – August 26

"I don't want anything to happen to him," Michael Corleone tells his favourite assassin. There is then a pause.

"While my mother's alive."

It is a chilling scene from The Godfather. A death sentence for poor Fredo.

The Godfather Part II to be precise, which will save the more pedantic writing in.

We don't know why Putin paused before bumping off the troublesome Yevgeny Prigozhin. Maybe he was trying to make up his mind whether to use Novichok or Polonium. In the end he thought it most efficient to eliminate him together with some of his associates.

Things have turned full circle in the former Soviet Union. After the hope of the 1990s, we are back to the days when Stalin had Trotsky murdered with an ice axe.

Russian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the air crash which killed Prigozhin. No doubt it will present its findings to Putin so he can decide if there is evidence to prosecute somebody.

This was one international gangster rubbing out another international gangster. If it happened on our shores the police might give one of those "there is no danger to the wider public" assurances.

That is not the case with Putin. It has been apparent for some time that there is plenty of reason for us to be very worried – because Putin is an international gangster with nuclear weapons, who doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks, or about the normal rules.

That was demonstrated when he launched a nerve gas attack on the streets of Britain, not to mention his demented military adventure in the Ukraine. We got our revenge by providing the defenders with modern anti-armour weapons which quite possibly made the decisive difference in the battle for Kyiv.

A disclaimer in relation to the above. They say Prigozhin was on the passenger list. But with Putin's Russia you can't believe a thing and shouldn't believe a thing.

Don't be surprised if Prigozhin pops up again. Ha-ha, I fooled the West again, Putin will say.

It would benefit the world to see the back of him, with a caveat. In The Godfather gangsters who meet sticky ends are replaced by other gangsters.


The Crispy Cod has landed itself in hot water with the council with its plans for a big hi-tech electronic sign advertising its fish and chips, meal deals, pies, or whatever.

Too big, wrong place, says Telford & Wrekin Council.

You can understand the council's position. You can't have businesses putting up signs all over the place leading to visual clutter, especially near a busy road junction.

These things have to be nipped in the bud. The message that they cannot be tolerated needs to pressed home.

And what better way to achieve that than by using one of those giant council-approved, and I suspect council-operated (but I don't know that for sure), signs by the busy roads of Telford town centre?

Dazzlingly bright in all their full-colour, LED-generated glory, motorists can't miss them and the important public information they impart.

"Come On England!" one of them was saying the other day.

I have noticed that there is potentially a similar danger of out-of-control visual signs clutter in Wolverhampton, so it would be sensible to take the opportunity to use the massive electronic boards there as well.

They too are by busy roads although, and sorry to say this Wolverhampton, they look substantially less hi-tech and frankly cheaper than those in Telford.

"Make sure your signs comply with planning regulations" they could be programmed to say. My French teacher told a no doubt apocryphal tale of a sign years ago which read "Don't Throw Stones At This Sign," but there have been real signs on clubs which say "Members and Non-Members Only."

The one I drove past in Wolverhampton this week spelt out "Observe Speed Limits" which seems rather narrow in scope. Why not "Don't Break The Law" or even "Don't Ignore This Sign"?

One of the more wordy Telford ones was, I think, calling on people to take the opportunities of an engineering career, with lots of accompanying information. I wasn't able to read it all as I drove by because I was afraid of crashing.

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