Charles Graham - Politicians have no right to tell us what to read

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson says he would like the power to ban The Sun newspaper from the city
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson says he would like the power to ban The Sun newspaper from the city

The Sun has been deeply unpopular in Liverpool for 27 years - ever since it printed a post-Hillsborough article which caused great offence at the time and turned out to be completely wrong about fan behaviour that day.

I perfectly understand the antipathy, rekindled by the recent inquest verdict which laid much of the tragedy’s blame at the door of police rather than supporters.

But for councillors to urge city retailers to stop selling the paper, as they did the other day, our views diverge.

Local authorities have no right to start behaving like dictatorships and tell people what they can and can’t read.

It strikes me that the people of Liverpool are perfectly capable of making their own minds up about whether they want to purchase this red top or not. They don’t need politicians deciding the matter for them.

I make quite a lot of motorway journeys and, to relieve the tedium, am prone to play the odd vehicular game.

One involves counting how long it is after descending the sliproad before I am overtaken by a BMW.

The quickest was about two seconds but there have been many other contenders within the 10-second bracket, the drivers of this make having a particular yearning to go faster than the rest of us. Bonus points are also awarded for Audis as they often seem in a chase too.

Then there is What’s Mr White Van Man Going To Do? which predicts whether the eponymous anti-hero is going to be nuisance by unnecessarily clogging up the centre lane for miles on end at an unnecessarily slow speed or will be flashing his lights at everyone whose back ends he drives up in a bid to barge them out of the way at high speed.

Less enjoyable is trying to work out whether the driver of a huge lorry has seen me as I overtake him, panic alarms ringing when his indicator begins to flash mid-maneouvre and there is nowhere else for me to go.

And then there is Guess Who’s On Their Mobile? Actually this isn’t much of a game at all because it is so obvious most of the time (unless alcohol is the distracting factor instead).

And neither is it amusing. We went past a car the other day which had been veering in and out of its lane at a variable speed and, lo and behold, we could see the driver completely absorbed in the gadget held against the steering wheel.

Absolutely terrifying. If anything it’s worse than having a drunk at the wheel. At least they are actually looking out of the windscreen rather than typing inane messages to someone or watching a film.

So, needless to say, I was delighted to hear the news of a sharp escalation in the legal consequences of being caught using a mobile while driving.

Doing so will involve an automatic six penalty points on the licence and a doubling of the fine from £100 to £200. Newly qualified drivers, who have a ceiling of six points for their first two years on the road, could immediately lose their licence.

Judging by what I have witnessed on the motorways of late, the old punishments weren’t having the desired deterrent effect. Let’s hope these do - and save lives in the process.