"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Friday, 30 April 2010

Gordon Gets Paxoed

Ollie at the Red Rag is running a live chat for this evening's interview with Brown.  The fun starts at 8.30pm on BBC1.
UPDATE: No, Brown didn't get Paxoed - he did get rather cross and upset though.   Has Paxman ("been it, seen it, done it all before & written the book") gone past his use-by-date?

UPDATE 2: Here's a link to part of the interview where Brown tries to deflect the question about Duffy. Btw - what's all that about sheep-shearers?  Has this country really lost all of its skills so we've actually been importing sheep-shearers?

Jon Stewart: The Leaders' Debate

Jon Stewart's amusing take on  the Leaders' debates and Bigotgate; the audience reaction to Brown's gaffe is telling:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Clustershag to 10 Downing
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party
UPDATE: This seems to be a day for updates! Apparently, not everyone can see it so thanks to Fausty in the comments for posting this link. No matter where you live, the video can be seen HERE.
It begs the question of what happened with all the other Jon Stewart videos I've posted over the past year. It must mean lots of people missed out on those too.

Jonah On The Loose + Updates

On Wednesday we had the 'rough on Duffy, tough on the causes of Duffy' conversation followed yesterday by  "Our company's doing well everywhere, but I think it's in spite of you.".  Today we have these:

"Would you care to say a few words into our microphone Mr Brown?"  Sarah glared and we all fell silent.

Refuse collector said, "Half our jobs are gone left, right and centre in this city."

Too many people seem not to have seen this video so I'm re-posting it - four minutes could have saved them a lot of trouble:

UPDATE:  News is coming in of a 5yr old sent home from school this morning because he was deemed "too naughty" to meet Gordon Brown - so his angry grandmother went instead.

Later, at the same school, Brown bores the socks off the children:  "Are you throwing me out?"

Troops To Kandahar 2

A highly critical article in the Telegraph about the movement of British troops from Helmand to Kandahar (see Wednesday) draws further attention to Brown's petulant and cowardly attitude towards our Armed Forces.
"Throughout Gordon Brown's troubled tenure as Prime Minister, one constant feature has been his antipathy towards our Armed Forces. But as he enters what, by rights, should be his final week in office, the sulphurous whiff of a particularly galling betrayal is polluting the Downing Street air: for Mr Brown appears to be doing his level best to lay the foundations for another humiliating capitulation by the British military."
Service chiefs and British Intelligence also get a kicking for good measure.

The inquest into the deaths of Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe & Trooper Joshua Hammond   resumed this morning.  The lying, shameless toad Brown should hang his head.  I note that Blair is back campaigning for Labour again in the South-East: I hope local bakeries have had a run on custard pies though I suppose he'll be well protected by his armed bodyguards to avoid scenes like those in, I think, Thailand - where protesters attempted to have him indicted for war crimes.

As an aside, I don't seem to be seeing or hearing much in the news about the postal votes going awol either.

Full article here

UPDATE: Coroner's Verdict: Unlawful Killing

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Instant Polls: Leaders' Debate

The Leaders' Debate: Live Blog

The following blogs, most of which are in the sidebar, are running a live chat for this evening's Leaders' Debate on the economy:

All Seeing Eye
Barking Spider
Biased BBC
Corrugated Soundbite
Dick Puddlecote
Grumpy Old Twat
Red Rag
Tory Totty Online
and also Swiss Bob at The Daily Politics.

BBC1 at 8.30pm.

Brown Meets Another 'Real Person'

Was it Mandelson's bright idea to push Brown to the forefront of campaigning and get him out and about meeting 'real people' rather than Labour activists?  Or was it Brown himself who truly thought he was a Beloved Leader and that the people would flock to him?  Whoever it was, it isn't working:
He remarked to Jayne Shinwell, a contract development worker, that the firm was doing well in China.  The 40-year-old mother of two responded: "Our company's doing well everywhere, but I think it's in spite of you."
Pic courtesy of Ollie at The Red Rag

What Sort Of Country Do We Live In?

It's a funny question I suppose, but one we'd all do well to keep asking ourselves.  Superficially we seem to live in a generally benign state where the government only wants what's best for us and most people are happy to accept that premise.  The government wants to help us and smooth life's difficulties with job-hunting, preventing homelessness, ensuring we eat our 5-a-day, lose weight, stop smoking and drinking, tide us over if we fall on hard times, cure us if we are ill and generally act as benefactor.  It says.

I've just caught up with this article which was published in Games Monitor while I was offline earlier this month.  It concerns security measures being taken for Olympics 2012 which include the construction of an 11 mile, 5,000 volt electric fence, topped with 900 daylight & night vision surveillance cameras spaced at 55-yard  intervals.

"A new genre of military futurology has emerged which owes as much to apocalyptic Hollywood movies as it does to the cold war tradition of ‘scenario planning'. Often outlandish and bizarre in its prophecies, and always dystopian, this new military futurism sees threats to the western way of life emanating not only from rogue states, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism but also from resurgent nationalism, conflicts over dwindling resources, migration, disease, organised crime, abrupt climate change and the emergence of failed cities where social disorder is rife.

"Other security measures to be implemented for London 2012 will include facial and iris recognition, finger-print and hand recognition, guards with attack dogs and search dogs. New software is planned to integrate all of London's CCTV cameras, and will have the capability to follow you through the city. A scheme to search people and vehicles will include machines capable of looking through your clothing. The Air Force will deploy its Reaper pilot-less drone aircraft, which will carry laser-guided bombs and missiles including the Hellfire air-to-ground weapon. While on the Thames, the Royal Navy will deploy its new £1 billion Daring class Type 45 destroyer. These are also to be fitted with laser-guided missile systems able to shoot down a target the size of a cricket ball.

"The Olympic Act 2006, which sets out various laws relating to the Olympics, gives the right of forced entry into private property to remove unauthorised advertising or protest banners.  ... the right of forced entry is extended outside the police force to staff contracted to the ODA.

"... security measures for the London Olympics will include the nationwide use of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, allowing police stop and search without suspicion. The London Olympics and its security does not exist in isolation but in a continuum of increasing state surveillance and security hysteria."
Take a look at this article too: The Police are considering the forcible chemical sedation of suspects. "The Federation is currently undertaking work to formulate a strategy which we intend to lead to recognition and acceptance of excited delirious syndrome by the British medical profession."

Are you feeling safer yet or can you feel the noose tightening?  When has any government voluntarily relinquished power and control once gained?  Oh, grandma, what big teeth you have!

Sovereign Debt Implosion

All the front pages of the papers this morning are examining Brown's unintended revelation that if anyone's bigoted, it's him.  Mandelson, Harman, Johnson and other Labour spinners have been out in force making excuses for his comments in a damage-limitation exercise which is going nowhere.  I've only one more thing to add: people are quoting other 'off-mic' moments such as John Major's "eurosceptic bastards" or Bush's "yo Blair".  The fact is that none of the instances cited can be compared to Brown's - of all those mentioned he is the only one who insults an ordinary, decent voter and reveals his contempt for the British public.

Tonight is the third and last of the Leaders' Debates and will concentrate on the economy - supposedly Brown's strength where his intelligence and fiscal competence will shine.  I doubt it.  In the last forty-eight hours Greece has been downgraded to junk status, Portugal to A- and Spain to AA.  Investors are now fleeing Italy so can Ireland be far behind?  Britain can't be shielded from events in the eurozone and I'm only surprised that carpet-baggers have held off from attacking Sterling for so long.  British banks have £25bn exposure to Greece and Portugal but £75bn to Spain so while Germany drags its heels and its MPs whine that Greece should be kicked out of the eurozone, nothing is actually being done and the problem spreads.

President of the European Council, van Rompuy, had this to say about the crisis:
“The sun is rising
sleeping yet in Europe
still the same sun.” 

So  we can all rest easy in our beds and not worry that the EU has also demanded we raise our contribution to their budget by another £450m. In perverse double-speak EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said:
the huge spending increase is needed to allow Brussels to help aid the economic recovery.
The social and financial consequences of international socialism and wealth redestribution has never been so exposed for what it is: as an unworkable and wicked ideology.
UPDATE: Andrew Neil explains why what happens in Greece can affect the UK.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New Poll

See sidebar

Enough Already

Puccini's 'O soave fanciulla' in the style of the day:

Jussi Bjorling

Live Health Debate

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health; Andrew Lansley, Shadow SoS for Health; Norman Lamb, LibDem spokesman on Health were cross-examined by Andrew Neil & Branwen Jeffreys.

Well, I say 'cross-examined' but you can judge for yourselves:

Labour: protect frontline NHS from spending cuts; access to a local GP at evenings and weekends; the introduction of a National Care Service;  cancer diagnostic tests with results in a week; one-to-one nursing for cancer patients; psychological therapy for all who need it.

Neil: Before we come on to health,  the PM has just called a grandmother, a lifelong Labour supporter, a bigot.  Has Gordon Brown just lost you the election?
Burnham:  I don't accept that at all. All we politicians face difficult moments and confrontations at times and make off-the-cuff remarks which I'm sure we regret and the PM has done the right thing and apologised immediately.  He's a man of complete decency er and integrity and er he has done the right thing."

Neil followed with a question asking what it tells us about Brown's character and Burnham replied that we're all "only human".  It's true that we're all "only human" but it seems some are considered more worthy than others.

Conservatives: spend more on the NHS every year; cut admin by a third; choose your GP, hospital and consultant; all the best new cancer drugs on tyhe NHS; more single rooms and an end to mixed-sex wards; peopole not having to sell their home to pay for care.

Brillo asked why Lansley's private office was being funded by one of the biggest private health-care providers in the country.  Lansley said it wasn't:  apparently it's the wife "of somebody"  who happens to be involved in a company, who paid a donation...  Care UK makes the headlines again.

LibDems: reduce number of health targets; make it easier to switch GP; allow patients to register at more than one practice; reform dental contracts to get dentists back into the NHS; extend end-of-life services and hospices; ban below-cost sale of alcohol.

Brillo:  Why do the LibDems say they support a minimum price for alcohol yet blocked it in the Scottish Assembly?  Why do the LibDems say one thing and do another?
According to Lamb "that's the beauty of devolving power - people reach different conclusions."

The debate was acrimonious and  full of political back-biting.  Burnham and his excuses are crumpet toast.  Lansley and Lamb aren't far behind.

The Yes/No/Maybe Interlude:

1. Scotland & Wales have free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions, would you introduce that in England?

Burnham: Yes.
Lansley: Andy hasn't published the Gilmore Report so.. [interrupted]
Neil:  So is that a yes or no?
Lansley: We're waiting for the unpublished Gilmore Report.
Lamb: No.

2.  Was relaxing licensing laws [in England] a bad mistake?
Burnham:  No.
Lansley: Yes.
Lamb: Yes.

3. Are you going to introduce minimum pricing in  the next Parliament?
Burnham got nowhere with this question since he supports it.
Lansley: No
Lamb: Yes/no/maybe.

It occurs to me that I've been wasting my time tuning into these debates because we learn nothing new - here are the videos, courtesy of SwissBob at the Daily Politics.

Part 2

After that, Swiss Bob fell asleep :-)  If the third & final segment turns up, I'll post it.

Part 3

The Real Brown On Display + Updates

Well, it had to happen.  Recognition of Gordon Brown's true nature can no longer be ignored by the msm, including the BBC which means the wider electorate will be informed as well.  The prat forgot he was wearing a microphone and berated his staff (Sue?) for allowing a woman to meet him on a walkabout and raise some questions including the deficit, education, the EU, student tuition fees, immigration from Eastern Europe - so, not an uninformed Granny.

Interviewed immediately afterwards on Sky, the woman, Gillian Duffy, was visibly shaken and upset: she'd thought the talk with Brown had gone well and told him she was going to vote Labour.  He'd thanked her, admired her red coat, shaken her hand and smiled profusely.  The poor old Lancastrian grandmother hadn't even intended to meet Brown; she'd been on her way to the shops when she saw the melee and Brown's advisors invited her over.  When asked whether she wanted a personal apology she said she thought he should apologise but she didn't want to see him in person, ever again.

At a news broadcast later Brown said he'd been doing a favour for the media by wearing the microphone in the first place but he was very sorry for calling Mrs Duffy "a bigot".  He also said "the broadcasters have chosen to play my private conversations" before "stomping" out of the studio.  So, not much of a mea culpa.

Surely, the man's finished?  He just can't hack meeting real people, the people whose lives are affected by the laws and policies his government has introduced.  The question is, who will replace him after the election in the event of a hung parliament?  Johnson? Miliband? Harman?  If the Labour Party form a coalition government with anybody I suggest a Citizens' Stroll around Parliament on May 7th.

Videos to follow.

There must be a subtitled video somewhere of Brown's conversation in the car (since Sky is running one at the moment) and I'll post it as and when. Meanwhile, I suppose Gordon's lying down in a darkened room. The msm is making more of this than they did of his electioneering at Glenrothes, when journalists were threatened to stay back by armed guards.

How many more custard pies will Brown thrown in our faces? He doesn't like 'ordinary' people - he thinks we're weird, bigoted, irrational. He doesn't like questions, he doesn't like debate: Gordon knows best.
* Insult to injury: Mrs Duffy is a widowed charity-worker and a lifelong Labour voter.


Troops To Kandahar

It looks as though British troops currently in Helmand will be moving to Kandahar when the Americans put in extra Marines to take overall control of the province this summer. There's a four-way ideological tug-of-war going on at the moment between the Americans, the British, the politicians and the Civil Service.
"Senior British figures have resisted the idea for some time but generals and senior diplomats are increasingly warming to the idea that they should "declare victory" in Helmand and move west to the city of Kandahar.

"Foreign Office sources in London said that the relocation was now becoming an "assumption" in some quarters rather than a mere option...

"The problem is that while it might make military sense, everybody knows that the Cabinet office will be the place where this decision will be taken and that decision will be up to the politicians after the election. There will be a heavy political cost because we've sunk a lot of muscle and treasure in Helmand.

"British forces would face a tough urban fight in Kandahar and many fear casualty rates could exceed those in Helmand.

"An Army planner warned: "It is a far more complex area. If we think the problems in Helmand are difficult then they are horribly magnified in Kandahar...

"Senior Foreign Office figures fear that moving to Kandahar would mean British troops remained in Afghanistan indefinitely whereas Helmand would leave open the possibility of an "exit strategy" being developed at relatively short notice should the situation in the country deteriorate. "
Prepare for more MoD spin in the coming months.  We've been in Afghanistan for eight long and costly years and it's disheartening that there seems to be no end in sight for our troops.

Related news:
Troops postal votes will be too late.  Problems are being detailed on Arrse.
MoD procurement fiasco The FRES cock-up.
Warmongers and the arms industry are always the winners: Cruise in a box for rogue bidders
Two re-posted from Sunday's Round-up:
Britain negotiates to buy Global Hawk super-surveillance drones from USA - for domestic use
Obama okays Prompt Global Strike - from here to eternity in an hour.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Live Business Debate

Robert Peston sat beside Andrew Neil for today's live debate.  They quizzed the unelected Peter Mandelson, Lord You-Know-Who-of-What&Where-But-Not-Why, (Privy Councillor, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, and Lord President of the Council, *spit*); Ken Clarke, Shadow Business Secretary; John Thurso, LibDem Business Spokesman and John Swinney, SNP Finance Secretary in the Scottish Assembly/Parliament.

Labour: extend scheme to allow struggling businesses to defer tax payments; invest in low-carbon infrastructure; simplify regulation and avoid red tape; provide finance for growing businesses; raise shareholder threshold for takeovers; increase capital allowances to encourage businesses to invest.

SNP - Scotland only: compel government-controlled banks to ease access to credit; support an international bank tax; limit bonus payments; create construction jobs through increased capital investment; cut corporation tax; oppose National Insurance rise; oppose cuts to public expenditure in Scotland.

LibDems: break up banks and separate retail and investment banking (Glass-Steagall); introduce banking levy; insist banks lend to viable businesses on fair terms again; crackdown on bonuses; force regulators to consider the public interest when assessing takeover bids; establish Local Enterprise Funds and Regional Stock Exchanges.  Euro is a "very valid aspiration" in the long term, would "guarantee British people a referendum" if the time was right.

Conservatives:  stop Labour's jobs tax (NI), cut business taxes; cut red tape; boost high-tech exports; boost apprenticeships; superfast broadband.  Defended his statement that if Britain has a hung parliament and can't handle the debt then the IMF will be called in.

I didn't hear anything that made my toes curl or my ears prick up - it was pretty bland.  There were a few light-hearted moments when they all seemed to laugh at each other's policies but apart from that it was rather low-key.  There were no probing questions, nothing that elicited anything new.  Or perhaps I'm just feeling rather jaded today - there are four more of these debates still to come!

First of all, here's a link to Andrew Neil's Tuesday morning catch up; the Labour Press Conference begins at 01:20 with the Mandy/Boulton exchange. Hear all about Peppa Pig, Mandy and two Balls here at about 02:04.  It's ludicrous when Mandy-Balls and Co would rather talk about Peppa Pig than the £30bn black hole in their sums - but understandable.

And this is Brillo's answer:

Now for the thrills and spills of the Business debate:

Part 2
Part 3
With thanks, as always, to Swiss Bob at The Daily Politics for the business debate videos.

Oh, before I forget, did anyone else see the classic Paxman/Ed Balls exchange on last night's Newsnight?
Balls: ...I've never known an election campaign where there's been less scrutiny of policy than in this election campaign...
Paxman: I know you have a very busy life but I assure you we have done policy, policy, policy night after night on this programme and I'm asking you specifically ...[interrupted]
Balls: Not on schools you didn't.
Paxman (his voice rising an incredulous two octaves): We had a whole debate on schools which you took part in!
Balls: And it was a good debate.

It beggars belief that some people are touting Balls as the next Prime Minister or Chancellor in waiting.

Here he is, thinking about having another run round the dining table:

A quarter of Blackjacks to Grumpy Old Twat for the pic

Food For Thought

Alex Salmond has said that, in the event of a hung UK Parliament, he will consider dropping the current ban on SNP MPs voting on England-only issues. It seems Nick Clegg isn't the only one relishing the thought of pulling the anti-democratic strings of "a balanced Parliament". Last October Salmond said:
“There’s a vast, overwhelming majority of people in Scotland, regardless of political preference, who rather like the idea of the Westminster parliament being hung by a Scottish rope."
However, the cavalry is racing towards us in their usual, last-minute dash: in an attempt to placate the English, the Conservatives have pledged to introduce a policy of “English votes for English laws” if they form the next UK government in an attempt to answer the West Lothian question. Last night they indicated that they would not countenance any formal arrangement with the SNP which would see Nationalist MPs voting on Enland-only matters.

The only satisfactory conclusion to this mess of devolution is for England to have her own Parliament but, as I've said before, all it will do is cement the break-up of the UK and deliver us, weakened, into the hands of the EU.  Mind you, I did have a thought (!) the other day prompted by Tris of Munguin's Republic.  Since it was the UK which signed up to the EU and the UK would no longer exist if Scotland was fully independent, wouldn't that mean that all existing treaties between the UK and the EU would be null and void?   How can you have treaties between two parties, one of whom no longer exists?  And how would the constitutional position of HM the Queen be affected?  Would she still be Head of State and Queen of Scotland?  There are so many constitutional anomalies to make it a political nightmare yet at the same time it seems an incredibly simple solution to the EU problem.  I must be missing something.

Scotland v BBC

Today the SNP will lodge papers with the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The party will challenge the decision of BBC executives to exclude it from the debate and the BBC Trust's rejection of it's appeal. It will demand that Mr Salmond is included in Thursday's debate on the economy or that a fourth debate, involving the First Minister, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg be held prior to 6 May and broadcast UK-wide.

If the BBC and three main UK parties refuse, the SNP will demand Thursday's debate be scrapped.

The result may not be known until Wednesday or Thursday morning.

The SNP raised over £50,000 in a day and a half to help with the legal costs. A tremendous achievement for what many, south of the border, consider is a 'small' political party.

Support has come from far and wide; party members and non-members; even from those who don't vote SNP - but support the principle that the people of Scotland are not second-class citizens as the BBC would lead us to believe.

Professional Scottish journalists, such as Joan MacAlpine and Alex Massie, are fully behind the SNP's action and surprisingly so is Magnus Linklater in the Times. Magnus supports the union but he understand a devolved Scotland and its politics.

Has the BBC been impartial in its treatment of Scottish voters? Has it recognised the need to represent the whole of the UK rather than just one part of it? Does it, in short, understand Britain?
To all of which, the answer is almost certainly —- no.

The action shows that we will no longer be silenced by insults and put-downs from unionist politicians and organisations. At last we're prepared to put our money where our mouths are and challenge an organisation which receives its fair share of funding from us, but returns so little and often grudgingly.

The result of the court case will tell Scotland where she stands with regard to her position within Britain's public service broadcasting organisation.

The SNP is not funded by all the UK, it is funded by Scotland's people because it only represents them. It cannot attract the vast sums unionist parties do, but money doesn't buy everything. It doesn't buy principle (although it's handy to buy lawyers) and it certainly doesn't buy democracy.

Good luck Scotland.

Raising The Dead

The near-bankrupt Labour Party is turning to a Hollywood director in an effort to brainwash  staunch the flow of voters to the LibDems and the Others.  Stephen Hopkins, director of Kiefer Sutherland's 24, is behind Wednesday evening's election broadcast.
"It [the ad] is a piece of drama, slightly sinister, fairytale-ish ... [it] peers into an imaginary future, assessing the impact of Tory policy pledges. It features actors playing three families and envisions the impact of Tory plans around child trust funds and child tax credits."
Sounds like gripping viewing.  I wonder what Hopkins would make of an election broadcast based on present-day truths rather than the fevered imaginings of a desperate, dying Party: our tanked economy; our sham parliamentary democracy; the pillage of the public purse by 300+ MPs; the warmongering and subsequent betrayal of our Armed Forces vis-a-vis procurement policies; the diktat by Think Tanks and quangos; 24-hr surveillance; the criminalising of the law-abiding majority; the politicisation of the Police Force;  the posturing on the world stage; the chaos in the classrooms; the failing infrastructure; the 3,600 new offences created since 1997; the censorship of free speech;  bans, bans and more bans  ...  On and on and on.  I know which scenario has me clutching a cushion and hiding behind the sofa.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Not That I'm One To Gloat...

...but, I do like this photo:

I'd like to think he's suddenly realised the enormity of the damage he and his Party have done to the country but I doubt it: he's probably praying to be turned into green cheese so he can stay in power supported by Nick 'Euphoria' Clegg.

Clearly, to coin a phrase, if we hadn't had 13yrs of re-jigging electoral boundaries to suit the Labour Party, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in at the moment.  Just saying.
The full debate (about 13mins) can be seen here.

Live Debate: Environment

Andrew Neil and Justin Rowlatt hosted this afternoon's debate on the environment.  Taking part were Darren Johnson, Green Party; Simon Hughes, LibDem Energy & Climate Change spokesman; Greg Clark, Shadow Energy & Climate Change Secretary;  Ed Miliband,  Energy & Climate Change Secretary.

The Greens policies include a science-based target of 90% cut in CO2 by 2030; 50% of UK energy from renewables by 2020; scrap nuclear power stations; £45bn funding for Green New Deal; energy efficiency measures for homes, schools & hospitals; investment in public transport, not roads.

The LibDems: 40% reduction in emissions by 2020; raise fuel duty in line with economic growth; insulation for all homes with a decade; extend the new carbon trading scheme; tax domestic flights to encourage rail use; oppose new nuclear power plants.

The Conservatives: 80% reduction in emissions by 2050; legal cap on emissions from power stations; new homes to be energy efficient from 2016; offer every household home insulation; pay families to recycle and scrap bin taxes; government emissions cut by 10% in a year.

Labour:  40% of electricity from low carbon sources by 2020; balanced energy mix with nuclear, renewables and carbon capture; high-speed rail; 400,000 green jobs by 2015; pay-as-you-save home insulation schemes; ban recyclable material from landfills.

Miliband also said the UK is "a leader in green manufacturing, making off-shore wind turbines and electric cars."  That's news to me, I thought the wind turbines were manufactured in Europe.

Yes/No Interlude:

1.  Should people take fewer flights?
Johnson: Yes
Hughes: Yes.
Clark:  If they've got an alternative
Brillo stepped in to remind Clark that he wanted a yes or no answer so Clark tried again:  Yes with high speed rail.  Brillo made a cutting comment and moved on.
Miliband: Yes, we should encourage alternatives...

2.  In the last few years have you taken a foreign holiday with a flight?
Miliband: Not in the last couple of years, no.
Clark: I can't remember but I'll have to say yes, just in case.
Hughes: Yes.
Johnson:  The last two years my holidays have been by rail or ferry.

3.  Do you all accept that renewables are an expensive way to generate power and it means the price people have to pay for electricity has to go up, doesn't it?  Yes or No?
Miliband:  Yes, it does.
Clark:  Yes, but it could be... [interrupted by Brillo - " what bit don't you understand of yes or no?]
Hughes:  Yes, Andrew.
Johnson:  Yes but the cost of fossil fuels would rise anyway [not interrupted but treated to a withering glance instead].

4.  Should Councils have the right to spy on your rubbish?
Johnson:  Yes.
Hughes:  No.
Clark: No.
Miliband:  No.

5.  Do you support Councils reducing the number of rubbish collections?
Miliband:  It's up to them.
Clark:  It's up to them - I'm a localist.
Hughes: It is up to them.
Johnson:  It's up to them.

6.  Still one-word answers - should petrol prices be higher, lower or about the same?
Miliband:  I don't have a pre-judged view on that.
Clark:  I think you need to moderate ...  [interrupted]
Hughes: Ideally come down.
Johnson: Higher.

A question from Brillo to Miliband alone:  "Remind me, because I think I missed it, where was the debate, the consultation and the democratic mandate to ban traditional lightbulbs?"
Miliband:  "It was a discussion that took place in the European Union..."
Brillo:  "That's what I mean, where was the democratic mandate?"
Miliband couldn't answer effectively.

One thing I feel confident in saying after watching this  tangled and occasionally bad-tempered debate is that if the Conservatives do form the next government, Greg Clark won't be the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

This is the only video I can find so far: Where they stand on Heathrow expansion

Tomorrow Andrew Neil and Robert Peston will be hosting the live Business Debate which will include Mandelson and Ken Clarke.

Video: Paxman/Nick Griffin Interview

From Saturday's special edition of Newsnight.  I thought Griffin did well against some uninspired and condescending questioning from Paxman.

Sky Scotland Debate

Alex Salmond, First Minister and leader of the SNP, went head-to-head with Jim Murphy, Labour's Secretary of State for Scotland, Conservative shadow Secretary of State David Mundell and LibDem Scotland spokesman Alistair Carmichael.

The debate was hosted by Adam Boulton and followed the format of the Welsh Leaders' Debates last week in that audience reaction was allowed and there were advert breaks, unlike the UK Leaders' Debates. Since I know next to nothing about Scottish politics beyond the fact that there's an awful lot of Labour voters up there, I'll leave the analysis to someone else but a few things did stand out.

The first question came from a GP who immigrated to Glasgow eight years ago and concerned immigration, support for the families of immigrants and benefits.  He said that because he paid taxes he was of more worth to the economy "than whites..." who claim benefits.  I'm sure his premise is right but it was the strange way in which he framed it - he obviously doesn't believe in political correctness.

When discussing the economy (2nd question) and whether Scotland would have fared better as an independent country Norway was cited by Salmond as an example of what could be achieved. What he failed to mention was that Norway is not in the EU and none of the others picked him up on it.  I still don't know how the SNP sees an independent Scotland sitting in the EU.

The statement that made me see red came, unsurprisingly, from Murphy. It was in response to the question, "Is it right that Westminster MPs from Scotland and Wales should be allowed to vote on issues and laws that are only going to affect England?" "I think we've got an imperfect Constitution, we have devolution across the United Kingdom with different voting rights across the four nations so I think it's right we maintain what we have at the moment. But we do need to change our Constitution - the House of Lords being elected, votes at sixteen and so much else beside but I would retain the current system of equal members of parliament across the United Kingdom."  Muppet.  Perhaps someone will clarify today that he 'mis-spoke'.

A question about the erosion of civil liberties threw up some interesting answers - only Murphy was in favour of not only maintaining the status quo but also extending it further:  "We have the technol... er... ability and the innovation in this DNA databasing to go further and I'm just very clear, and the Labour Party is very clear, that we have this know-how and we should deploy it..." 

Murphy floundered throughout the debate; he's an ineffectual charlatan who trades on his Scottish and Irish roots when it suits him to do so and he's nothing more than a cadaverous spin merchant who churns out softly-spoken Party platitudes trying to defend the indefensible.

For what it's worth I thought Salmond and Mundell came off best in terms of audience reaction but Carmichael was quite effective too and showed most strongly when talking about Iraq.  Murphy was on a hiding to nothing.

This is the only video I've been able to find so far - just three minutes out of ninety:

Here's a link to the section on civil liberties and the closing statements

More info at:
SNP News
The Times
The SNP's legal challenge

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Return To Sender

H/t: Ollie at The Red Rag

No Comment Necessary

Courtesy of Rogue Gunner


I've stolen this lock, stock and barrel from the MoS because, on one level, I found it very amusing and on another it opened my eyes to the LibDems' 'triple lock' policy on coalitions and hung parliaments: "...the executive can veto any coalition deal. But it can also delay the formation of a government by referring the matter to a special conference, which in turn can ballot the party’s entire membership."  Sounds like a messy and protracted business to me; what do you think?

"Britain’s fate in a hung Parliament could lie in the hands of an alien cyborg armed with a terrifying array of weapons...and a Liberal Democrat membership card.

"If no party gets a Commons majority on May 6, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg will have to get past a Cyberman, one of Dr Who’s deadliest enemies, to seal a coalition deal.

"Brian Orrell, who played a Cyber Lieutenant in the BBC science fiction show in the Eighties, will have a key role in approving any power-sharing pact as Lib Dem vice-president and a senior member of its Federal Executive.

"Under the party’s internal rules – designed to stop the leader signing away its independence for a coveted Cabinet job – the executive can veto any coalition deal. But it can also delay the formation of a government by referring the matter to a special conference, which in turn can ballot the party’s entire membership.

"The ‘triple lock’ rules date from 1998 amid fears former leader Lord Ashdown was plotting a deal with Tony Blair. Mr Orrell was not available for comment last night but has previously backed the rules.

"Mr Clegg’s aides and senior party figures were last night surprised to hear of Mr Orrell’s Cyberman past. One said: ‘I knew he was an actor but I didn’t know he was a Cyberman. But then, they do wear those masks so you never see their faces.’
It also gives me an excuse to post another clip of Dr Who's scariest enemy, the Cybermen. The EU-sponsored BBC has had all the EU-related spoofs removed from YouTube so this will have to suffice:

Sunday Reflection

Sunday Round-up

Britain negotiates to buy Global Hawk super-surveillance drones from USA - for domestic use
The Labour Party has left the building
Miliband E: "New Labour 2010 is different from New Labour 1997 because we have learned lessons."
Miliband D: "Look, you've punished us enough about Iraq."
Mandelson: "Shut up, Harriet, I don't want to hear from you again."
Clegg: "Brown is irrelevant"
Survey of postal voters shows Conservatives ahead
Home Office allows illegals to stay. Back-door amnesty?
Discounted online designer goods hit by EU ruling
The cost of the EU's External Action Service aka Diplomatic Corps
FCO draws up plans to close Britain's embassies
Fallout from the volcano - examining the layers of international bureaucracy and government that closed our air space.
More details of the flying ban from the MoS
Those backfiring 'Pope jokes' in full

In the world:

Suspension of Spanish judge highlights deep anti-Franco feelings
Obama okays Prompt Global Strike - from here to eternity in an hour
The downfall of Downfall
Greece heads towards austerity and Portugal shivers
German politicians call for Greece to be forced out of the euro

Condell Comes Out For UKIP

Seven minutes of common sense:

UKIP Manifesto
BNP Manifesto
English Democrats Manifesto
Libertarian Party Manifesto

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Polls Latest

Tomorrow's YouGov poll for the Sunday Times makes me wonder whether my wildest dream might come true - Labour wiped out at the election.  The next twelve days are going to be very bumpy indeed because on the figures there could really be a Hung Parliament and who in their right mind would want a Lab/LibDem coalition? The Labour vote needs to slump further with votes going to UKIP, BNP, English Democrats - anybody but the LibDem lefties.

Other polls:

Ipsos Mori for the News of the World:
Con: 36%
Lab:  30%
LibDem:  23%

ICM for the Sunday Telegraph:
Con: 35%
LibDem:  31%
Lab:  26%

ComRes for the Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror:
Con: 34%
LibDem: 29%
Lab: 28%

Political Betting says:
For the key development is that the yellow bubble hasn’t burst and the lift from the first debate is being sustained.
Labour will feel very uncomfortable with the ICM 26% share - that’s getting very low indeed and there must be concern that supporters could switch to Nick Clegg’s party to stop the Tories.
Some points from the ComRes poll:-
  • Turnout looks set to be really quite high – 66% say ‘absolutely certain’ to vote, the highest registered of this campaign.
  • Lib Dem support is still strongest among the younger age groups – 41% among 18-24s.
  • Labour is ahead among C2s and DEs ie its core social groups while 35% of ABs say they’ll vote Lib Dem.
  • The Lib Dem figures are particularly strong in the North of England.
UPDATE: I missed this while I was offline. It's a short article from Dan Hannan “Whoever thought that we might win England?”a Belgian palaeo-federalist bellowed at me just now, beaming with joy.

Betjeman: King's Lynn to Hunstanton

I'm trying to keep the weekend fairly politics-free so here's an old Betjeman film to take our minds off the opinion polls for ten minutes:

What Has Europe Done For Us?

New proposals have been tabled under the EU's controversial
Stockholm Programme on justice and home affairs , which include proposals for a European ID card register, internet surveillance systems and automated EU exit-entry border systems operated by machines reading fingerprints.

There are also plans to turn Eurojust into an investigative body with the power to order arrests and trials, as a first step to creating an EU Public Prosecutor: "The Commission will prepare the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office from Eurojust, with the responsibility to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgement offences against the Union's financial interests...The administration of justice must not be impeded by unjustifiable differences between the member states' judicial systems".

Meanwhile the government has shown support for the controversial new European Evidence Warrant (EEW). The EEW is the partner to the European Arrest Warrant, and could allow member states to access personal data, such as DNA and bank records, of citizens from other member states.

Here's a 40-page report from Open Europe which gives greater detail about the EU's growing surveillance.

The European Commission has also said that the disjointed national responses to the threat posed by the volcanic ash has created a new impetus to "fast track" its plan to create a European Network Manager, which would create a single authority with the power to override member states' control over their own airspace. Helen Kearns, spokeswoman for the EU's Transport Commissioner, said that it was "the view of the European Commission" that the decisions and recommendations of the new body "should be binding."

In other news: Prepare to welcome Bosnia
Greece has formally placed a request to activate a €40-45 billion EU-IMF aid package, a day after new budget deficit figures revealed the country's 2009 shortfall to be worse than previously forecast.
Open Europe sets out the different policies of the three main Parties towards the EU

Friday, 23 April 2010

Overkill: St George's Day Mk II

We must build on what we have as a nation, as a people, and not rest on the past. We basked in the glory of Empire and lost generations in the two World Wars. That's why it's been so easy to break us up into Regions of the EU - we need a cohesive centre to remind us of our capabilities. The English can come together, demand the right not to be broken into Regions and to be their own people with their own country, their own Parliament. Unfortunately, something inside tells me that this is exactly what the EU wants: the fragmentation of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Whatever we do, it seems we dance to their tune. Alternatively, we could just wait for the crunch.

Happy St George's Day.

Happy St George's Day

Richard II, Act 2, Scene 1:
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leas’d out,—I die pronouncing it,—
Like to a tenement, or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots, and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Ah! would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death.

First Minister's Questions, Scottish Parliament, 22 April 2010

Yesterday the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament was in full electioneering mode. Questions included renewable energy projects, right-to-buy homes and the new school curriculum.

The FM refused to accept Iain Gray's accusation that renewable energy targets had not been achieved and took trouble to explain to the leader of the labour MSPs that carbon emissions targets are not achieved in a matter or weeks or months but years. A flamboyant performance from Alex Salmond.

Annabel Goldie, on behalf of the tories, wanted to see the return of right-to-buy homes. Alex Salmond explained there are 7,000 social houses being built in Scotland and 2,000 council houses in the planning or being built at present. This is the first time for some years that any council in Scotland has undertaken the building of homes.

The Curriculum for Excellence was Tavish Scott's subject and the FM explained he would stand by the judgement of the Education Management Board.

You can view FMQs here or on the BBC iPlayer.

One interesting piece of business undertaken in the Parliament yesterday was a new law which replaces the Dangerous Dogs Act and switches the focus on to the owner and animal rather than just particular breeds. It closes a loophole where, if a child was attacked by a dog in its home, the owner could not be held legally responsible unless the animal was classified as a dangerous breed.

About 600 people are attacked by dogs every year in Scotland and during 2007-08 a total of 363 of them required hospital treatment.

Sky: 2nd Leaders' Debate

In which Gordon Brown begs for his job and wonders where it's most appropriate to smile.  He can't compute so just stretches his mouth in the direction of his ears on an ad hoc basis.  The first questions concern the EU and a potential re-run of Afghanistan elsewhere in the world:

Part 2
Part 3  The 3rd question, on climate change, kicks in at about 05:35 and Gordon says the UK is "the world's leading offshore wind power".  Nick Clegg says he doesn't have a "theological position" regarding nuclear power.
Part 4 4th question about the Pope's forthcoming visit to the UK, Roman Catholic priests, child abuse and the Church's stance on various issues begins at roughly 05:10
Part 5  5th question: 'How do you plan to restore faith in the political system?' begins at 01:54 approx.
Part 6 A woman who looks remarkably well at the age of 84 asks a question about state pensions (£59 per week??!!): 02:33.
Part 7 @ 02:42 the 7th questioner asks whether a hung parliament/coalition government would be better for the country.  Clegg, unsurprisingly, is in favour.  Brown seems to think it's already in place via quangos and Cameron doesn't care for it at all.
Part 8 in which Cameron raises another laugh, this time about coalition government.  Question 8 begins at about 03:01 and asks how to make immigration fairer.  BoJo was thrown up as a smokescreen by Clegg when the LibDems were queried on their Amnesty for Illegals.
Part 9 has more on immigration plus the pre-prepared closing statements and more sneers from Brown.

None of the issues raised actually peeked behind the curtain to take a look at the deeper issues upon which their statements were predicated;  it all seemed rather superficial but I suppose that's a result of the tight format.  Nice to see Clegg constantly checking his speech-notes.

I thought Cameron was stronger, clearer and more positive this week.  I still haven't seen the polls but I understand from a snippet on LBC when I was setting up Sky that opinion is that Clegg came out on top.   I don't get it at all and can only put it down to 13yrs of a weak Conservative Opposition which has let things get too far and people's wish to now try something new.  Anyone but the LibDems though - they're just more of the same:  Clegg is steeped in politics moreso than Cameron.  As for Gordon & his Labour Party - they're a busted flush.  Aren't they?

With thanks to Sw1ssB0b of the Daily Politics for the videos.

Now back to my marathon cook-a-thon and freezing sessions of the food I was able to rescue from the freezer while I think about St George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday.

Chancellors' Debate: Daily Politics

A good debate with some persistent questioning from Andrew Neil and Stephanie Flanders and in which Vince Cable comes unstuck and the LibDem's economic and taxation policies are exposed as flimsy and less than honest.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Live Crime Debate

I was about to press 'publish post' when the mother of all power cuts began on Tuesday. I know it's late and irrelevant now but it's a record of sorts. I missed Wednesday's Chancellors' live debate and last night's Leaders' Debate so I'm going to have another cup of tea (bliss!) and watch them online - oh, and I also have to sort out my Sky connection which seems to have blown. Happy Days :-) Back later, DV.

This afternoon's debate followed the same as yesterday's on Foreign Affairs. Andrew Neil and Mark Easton questioned Chris Grayling (Shadow Home Sec), Chris Huhne (LibDem spokesman on Home Affairs) and Alan Johnson.

Home Sec Johnson was first out of the slips.   Protect frontline police numbers; guaranteed fast & effective action on anti-social behaviour; expand Community Payback punishments; failing police forces to be taken over; full use of CCTV & DNA technology; early intervention to prevent crime & anti-social behaviour.  Will 'maintain & enhance neighbourhood policing'.  Claimed last 13yrs have been a Labour success.

Brillo asked about Harman wearing a flak jacket in Peckham.  He said she "wore it as part of the team that was going out that day" and question should be directed to Harman as to why the team felt it necessary.  Crime in Peckham has fallen; violent crime in Peckham has fallen, as it has across London.  He said.

Grayling next.  Instant punishments for anti-social behaviour; combat binge drinking; get more police back on the beat; more local control over the police; freedom to defend your home from burglars; restore civil liberties.  Anyone carrying a knife *will* go to jail.  Wants a system that's on the side of the law-abiding, not on the side of the criminal.

Brillo asked whether he'd ever 'hugged a hoodie'   Grayling made a joke about his son who wears hooded tops before answering 'no'.  Need carrots and sticks: tough penalties for offenders but must also understand that some offenders come from 'pretty terrible & difficult backgrounds'.  Some offenders need support and mentoring to turn their lives around.  Zero tolerance for knife-carriers.

Grayling was also asked why the Conservatives have ring-fenced overseas aid, about the B&B couple and why senior Police Officers had threatened to resign (ACPO's vested interests anyone?) if the Conservatives bring in elected police chiefs.  To the latter question, Grayling responded that he wanted more decisions taken at a local level, not Home Office level, that it was, in effect, de-politicising the police.
Huhne  Limit custodial sentences of less than 6 months; base drugs policy on independent scientific advice; cancel prison building programme; 3,000 more police officers; directly elected police authorities; statutory Youth Service.  Problem is not in punishments but in catching criminals.  Must do more on knife and gun crime: suggested hospitals must advise police when treating knife/gun wounds (I thought they already did).

Brillo asked what was the danger that when people studied the LibDem's manifesto and policies on crime they'd say 'thanks but no thanks'.  Huhne says there is no danger because their policies 'are based on the evidence of what works'.  Blamed 'tabloid newspaper editors' for the perception of crime.  Ho-ho.

After that it was the usual questioning followed by a very quick yes/no interlude and the 45-second summing up.

Huhne should appear for the LibDems more often because he came across as another long-winded, gesticulating bigmouth.  Interrupting others, over-running when his time was up and a stabbing, pointing digit.  Oh, and soft on crime.  Here are a few examples of the type of crime that, under the LibDems, wouldn't get a custodial sentence:

2/3rds of the current 5,000 pa imprisoned for knife crime;
Theft from a shop involving significant intimidation;
Burglary from a building or dwelling involving £2,000 or more;
Assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm.

Huhne said youngsters often carry knives 'for their own protection' rather than to intimidate others and it was important to discriminate.

Grayling seems to be a pleasant, mild-mannered man who gives the impression of not being up to the job, which is unfortunate because he actually responded well under pressure, didn't muff anything, introduced a touch of self-deprecating humour and answered the questions with a quiet confidence.

I won't bore you with Johnson - we all know about him, or, at least, we all know what Party hacks and journos think about him: the sun shines out of his proverbial and he should be Labour Leader.  Me?  I think he's weak, wishy-washy and not up to it - the Peter Principle personified.  When he was closely questioned he became quite flustered plus I don't like any of Labour's policies anyway.

The questions in the Yes/No Interlude were:
1. Can you guaranteed that if you form the next government, police numbers won't fall?
Johnson:  No.  Grayling: The Home Sec doesn't have the power to do that so No.  Huhne:  Yes.
2. Apart from motoring offences have you ever broken the law?
Huhne:  No.  Grayling: No.  Johnson:  No.
3.  Are there too many speed cameras?
Grayling: Yes.  Johnson: No.  Huhne: Shrugging shoulders, gesticulating and nodding head from side to side - Yes.

Mark Easton appeared to target Grayling for most of his questions; I'm sure I didn't imagine it and at one point the word 'harangue' sprang to mind until Brillo intervened to move things on.    Easton directed two to Huhne and then regretted it because he couldn't shut him up.  If you're interested I'll post some videos later but it wasn't sparkling and only interesting if you like the little details, which is why I didn't post any of yesterday's FA debate.

Best remark from Brillo:  "No, Chris Huhne, we've had to listen to you, you'll now listen to us."  Huhne's face was a picture in pause mode.

Funniest comment from someone whose name I can't remember: 'Grayling's so tall he's outgrown his hair.'   It's true - either Grayling's a Gentle Giant or Johnson and Huhne are vertically-challenged.

Thanks again to Guido for hosting the live chat.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

ACPO At It Again

The self-appointed private limited company that is ACPO needs to be culled.  It takes too much on itself and is a pernicious menace.  Its latest money-grabbing wheeze is to extend police powers to more nightclub bouncers and private security guards.

The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme already allows 1,667 'authorised' civilians to issue fines, stop people in the street, take their photograph and ask for their name and address but an extra 100,000 security guards and 50,000 bouncers are to be targeted.
Tory home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling called for an immediate end to the scheme: 'People expect policing powers to be held by police, and not by other groups like nightclub bouncers,' he said.
The move is particularly controversial because Acpo is directly involved in approving private firms which want to join the CSAS.

Click to enlarge
It's time for elected Police Chiefs.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Reeds At Runnymede

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
'You musn't sell, delay, deny,
A freeman's right or liberty.
It wakes the stubborn Englishry,
We saw 'em roused at Runnymede!

When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to play the game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising "Sign!'
They settled John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter signed at Runnymede.'

And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

Apologies for posting this poem again ... some might think it's laughable or histrionic, but I don't. I think we're looking at tears before bedtime.

"From Churchill To No Will"

Watch this and recognise its truth.  This is why we're* losing:

It has to be UKIP or BNP.  I'm so afraid that this will be our last chance to express our genuine  opinions at the ballot box.  Please look at your MP - check out their expenses and check out their values and their Party's manifesto.  This has become so much bigger than just the old Lib/Lab/Con.  If I were Scots I'd vote SNP, if I were Welsh I'd vote Plaid Cymru - N.Ireland, I've got no idea and English, likewise since we don't have our own devolved Assembly because we're only Regions (did you vote for that?).   It's all such a political mess.

State education has gone down the pan - look at how they've let down our children and now say we need immigrants because British people aren't up to the job.  Our children are leaving school unable to read, write or comprehend English - not spelling, not maths, not literature nor history - after thirteen years of Labour govt.  It's all part of the plan.  I'm not mad, just observant and disillusioned to see how far along the path we've trodden. It's not too late to re-trace our steps.

*  When I say 'we', I mean us: people, plebs, proles, chavs, voters, electorate, you, me.
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