Tag Archives: Clive Lewis

Labour’s ‘institutional’ problem isn’t racism – it’s right-wing, authoritarian MPs

This is deliberate needling by Chuka Umunna. He’s trying to provoke an aggressive reaction from among the membership of the Labour Party – as he was with his dehumanising tactic of calling us all “dogs”.

Well, every dog has its day, and ours is coming.

Here’s Mr Umunna’s latest outrageous claim:

Notice that Sophy Ridge asked a leading question, allowing Mr Umunna to wax lyrical on this theme. He immediately goes off-course and crashes. He claims that the Labour Party has met the Macpherson report’s definition of “institutional racism” – but fails to elaborate on what it is.

Allow me to fill in the blanks. According to the report by Sir William Macpherson to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, “institutional racism” is “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin”. And it does not apply to the Labour Party at all.

Labour, as an organisation, has always provided an appropriate and professional service. Where party members have been found to have been exhibiting racist behaviour, it has not been in their capacity as members or officers of the party – it did not reflect Labour’s policies or procedures. And we know that the vast majority of accusations that have been levelled at Labour members have been false. Right?

Mr Umunna, a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel – an organisation that has now been proven to have been supporting the interests of the Israeli government in UK Parliamentary affairs (right?) – went on to say that Labour had failed to address “the racism known as anti-Semitism”. But Labour has been addressing it since 2016; it is the intervention of MPs like Mr Umunna (whose questioning of Ken Livingstone over anti-Semitism that year clearly showed he had already decided on the senior Labour member’s guilt) that induces the public wrongly to believe otherwise.

He demands that Labour should have adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, rather than its own code of conduct, failing to mention the fact that the IHRA document is vague, allows critics of the Israeli government to be falsely labelled anti-Semitic (because he’s involved with Labour Friends of Israel?), and was intended to be a tool to help investigations – not as evidence, or indeed proof, of claims against any party member his gang would like to accuse.

The dishonesty in his next comment is staggering. He claims that, if Labour had adopted the IHRA working definition, the party could have moved on to discuss the big political issues of the moment. This is not true. He knows – and we know (right?) that the accusations of anti-Semitism will not stop while Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party. The Israeli government does not want a supporter of peace between its country and Palestine in line to be the next Prime Minister of a country as influential as the UK still remains, and that is why these claims continue. One was made the very morning after Labour adopted the IHRA definition, if I recall correctly.

His claim that there are still outstanding complaints is false, as you can see from this tweet by NEC member Claudia Webbe:

That being said, This Writer has been facing action under Labour’s disputes procedure since May 2017 and at the time of writing I am yet to be given details of the date and location of the first hearing at which I will be allowed to give evidence, which indicates that the process up to now has indeed left much to be desired – especially as I am utterly innocent of the charge against me, including all its particulars.

I am currently crowdfunding to carry out legal action against all my accusers and you should be able to find information on how you can help me, at the end of this article.

I cannot discuss the claim that Labour has not told MPs about threats of violence to them. I do know of a claim that a supporter of Joan Ryan MP threatened to kill a youth member who intervened when he tried to pressure a female vote-counter and then tried to assault the same young man on a second occasion. The Metropolitan Police has said it was ‘assessing’ the complaint.

Labour organisations, MPs and officers have made their opposition to Mr Umunna’s claims clear:

The mention of Trevor Phillips refers to a former chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission who has claimed that Labour “is led by anti-Semites and racists, who basically want to essentially eliminate anyone who disagrees with them” – in a staggering reversal of the facts. It is right-wingers like Mr Umunna (and, one must conclude, Mr Phillips) who want to eliminate anyone who disagrees with them. I make no comment about whether they are racist in any way.

This is true. Many have questioned why Labour right-wingers seem able to come out with any old claptrap and go unpunished for it, while rank-and-file members such as myself can be suspended – and indeed expelled, as happened to Marc Wadsworth – on the basis of similar claptrap, sometimes uttered by other Labour MPs (Ruth Smeeth in the case of Mr Wadsworth).

So, what can we say about this? Let’s start with Clive Lewis’s excellent comments to BBC News:

He makes a strong point: Labour members have exercised their democratic right to express their dissatisfaction with the behaviour of the right-wing MPs (like Joan Ryan, in the case under discussion) and to demand better.

The current Labour leadership understands that this is democracy – but the MPs under the spotlight – including Mr Umunna – don’t. The reason for this is explored very thoroughly in a Twitter thread by Ben Goren:

So these people – Mr Umunna, Ms Ryan, Mr Phillips, Ms Smeeth, and the others not mentioned above – believe that Labour should be ruled from the centre, with the wider membership only allowed to service the needs of the privileged few in the PLP, NEC and other positions of power. That is why they believe Jeremy Corbyn can “call off the dogs”, as Mr Umunna unappealingly (indeed, unacceptably) described it.

But Mr Corbyn cannot. He did not set these “dogs” loose. And the right-wingers only have themselves to blame for their current predicament.

Indeed, their accusations may be considered victim-blaming of the lowest kind. Consider:

What next? Well…

Yes it does. But we cannot descend to their level because we know that they have an advantage – a set of privileges – that the rest of us do not: They can say what they want with impunity but if we put one word out of line, they’ll use it as a stick and beat us with it. Like dogs.

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1038445403841220608

This is a debate that requires the ultimate in restraint from those of us who are in the right. We must be polite. We must be accurate. We must be forensic.

And when the other side changes its tactics, we must adapt. For instance:

Back in 2016, during the so-called “Chicken Coup” that led to the second leadership election that Jeremy Corbyn won, Ms Eagle accused supporters of the Labour leader of vandalising the window of her constituency office. This was a lie. The broken window led to a staircase and not the office, and a police investigation showed no evidence that supporters of Mr Corbyn were responsible.

Now she is adopting a conciliatory tone. But note that she is trying to take the lead. We can unite to take on the Tories – if we follow her lead and that of her group within the Labour Party.

No, thank you, Angela. You had your chance and you attacked us.

If you hear someone attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership, using accusations of anti-Semitism against him and the membership at large, or claiming that the members are somehow traitors for using the party’s own mechanisms to stop them… these are the people to oppose.

Politely.

But firmly.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Britvic factory closure tells you all you need to know about jobs in the UK today

Robinsons drinks will no longer be made in Norwich following the announcement by Britvic [Image: Rex/Shutterstock].

Apparently Britvic told its Norwich workers their jobs were being axed during their annual Christmas dinner – according to MP Clive Lewis.

What appalling timing.

Notice the difference in numbers. It seems we are to understand the seven extra staff are on the fixed-term contracts mentioned in the Guardian story below.

Would it be beyond the pale to ask whether they – however many there are – were employed on fixed-term contracts because bosses knew this closure was coming?

And would it also be beyond the pale to ask what kind of “redeployment opportunities” are being offered on other sites?

Zero-hours contracts? Fixed-term contracts?

It wouldn’t be the first time an employer found an excuse to cancel workers’ contracts and then re-employed them on worse terms. Local authorities seem to do it all the time.

So This Writer believes Mr Lewis was being extremely restrained when he posted this reaction to the closure on Facebook:

“I am so, so sorry for all the Britvic employees and families who’ve just got the news that Britvic have decided to leave our city.

“It’s a real kick in the teeth to the city of Norwich

“The workers there will have felt that Britvic went into this process knowing full well which way it was going with this.

“It’s a real body blow for staff who have worked so hard and they have every right to feel hard done by.

“It’s an awful time of year for this to happen and they have to go back to their families knowing the company is leaving.

“There are of course knock-on effects for Colman’s too, which remain to be seen. This city and generations of families have contributed to making the brand what it is.

“I know that at least one trade union for the site is deeply unhappy with the way that the consultation preceding closure was conducted. I am working with that union to try and get some kind of more positive outcome from all of this for employees.”

Britvic’s factory site in Norwich is to close, affecting hundreds of jobs.

The drinks manufacturer said it would be transferring production of Robinsons and Fruit Shoot from Carrow Works to other locations across the UK, with the site to close towards the end of 2019.

It said it would offer every employee affected redeployment opportunities at its other sites and help to find alternative employment.

A spokeswoman said that Britvic employed 249 people at Carrow Works but that this included a number of staff on 12-month fixed-term contracts which will end before the site closes.

Source: Hundreds to lose jobs as Britvic shuts down Norwich factory site | Business | The Guardian


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‘Dead cat’ allegations against Clive Lewis have been dropped

Clive Lewis had denied the claim, which was made after Labour party conference. [Image: Martin Pope for the Guardian].

It’s no surprise the sexual harassment allegation against Clive Lewis has been dropped. It served its purpose – it distracted us all from what the Tory government was doing back in October.

That was the time the Tories ignored a Parliamentary vote demanding the pausing of the Universal Credit rollout until its many problems are fixed; when Theresa May confirmed she would not spend a single penny to make tower blocks safer after the Grenfell Tower inferno; and when the Tories had been caught charging people without any money at all 55p a minute to phone the Universal Credit helpline – among many other scandals.

So the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog dug up a ‘dead cat’ allegation about Mr Lewis saying “On your knees, bitch!” to a man at a Labour conference fringe event, and this was followed by an allegation of sexual assault. The allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had just broken, so the claim was certain to garner a great deal of attention.

(A ‘dead cat’ is, as everyone should know, a tactic to distract attention from an important issue – equivalent to throwing a dead cat onto a table and shouting, “Look at this dead cat!”; everyone looks, and forgets about whatever they were discussing before).

Now we see there was no substance in the sexual assault allegation. We already knew there was nothing more than manufactured outrage about the incident at the Labour event.

They served their purpose. For the Tories, the problem is that worse crises were to follow – and have yet to come.

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP and former shadow business secretary, has been cleared of allegations of sexual harassment after a party investigation.

Lewis, the MP for Norwich South, was accused of grabbing a female Labour member’s bottom at a fringe event at the party’s conference in September. The woman told the Independent last month: “We had a hug and while we were having a hug he gave my bum a big squeeze.”

Lewis had previously apologised after it emerged he told a man to “get on your knees, bitch”, understood to be at the same event, part of Momentum’s The World Transformed festival.

An internal investigation has dismissed the claim of sexual harassment against him… Labour MPs Kelvin Hopkins and Ivan Lewis remain under investigation.

Source: Clive Lewis cleared by Labour over sexual harassment claim | Politics | The Guardian


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People aren’t trolling Nusrat Ghani because of misogyny – and the reasons are obvious

Nusrat Ghani.

Tory MP Nusrat Ghani appears to be a little upset at the response attracted by her call for an urgent debate on Clive Lewis’s use of the word “bitch”:

The trouble is that she, along with those others who have been trying to make something of this incident, is pushing a false argument.

Nobody is denying the offensive nature of the words used by Mr Lewis – least of all Mr Lewis himself, who has apologised after being made aware that they did cause offence.

But context is everything, and his remark was made in an attempt at humour, with no offence intended – to a man. This is, at the very least, a subversion of the offensive nature of the words – albeit, in hindsight, an unsuccessful one.

The claim that the words used were gendered is easily defeated as there are many instances of men calling other men “bitch”. Indeed, one definition in the Urban Dictionary states that a bitch is a “modern-day servant; a person who performs tasks for another, usually degrading in status”.  To This Writer, it appears to be the relevant definition when considering Mr Lewis’s use of the term. Note the use of the word “person” – not “woman”. Therefore it can be someone of either gender.

Nobody female who was at the event has come forward to say they took offence at the time (to my knowledge), and my understanding is that the organisers took no complaints at the time.

So Mr Lewis used a non-gendered term of abuse, in a humorous (or attemptedly humorous) manner, while speaking to a man.

And Nusrat Ghani wants us to think it implies hatred towards women.

Yes. I would like to see a debate on the subject.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely:

All things considered, that would be a lucky escape for Ms Ghani.


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Yes, Nusrat Ghani, let’s have that debate about MPs abusing power – we can look at your fellow Tories [STRONG LANGUAGE]

How can Tories complain about anybody’s attitude to women or minorities when Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary?

Tory MP Nusrat Ghani reckons she will demand an urgent debate in the House of Commons about the incident in which Clive Lewis used the word “bitch” during a social event connected to the Labour Party, a month ago.

Some of us may find it worth comment that she wants an “urgent” debate about an incident that is a month old and is only being discussed now in order to distract the public from the growing list of the minority Conservative government’s failures. Where’s her demand for an urgent debate on her own government’s failure to support the will of Parliament and suspend the Universal Credit rollout?

Here are her tweets:

Oh, right. Using the word “bitch” implies a lack of respect for women. This Writer can certainly get on board with that – but not with the hypocrisy of saying it after reading an article about Mr Lewis on the Guido Fawkes blog, which has a record of abusing that word:

And what about the misogynistic abuse Guido‘s followers heap on women after they’ve been targeted on that website? Here’s an example:

Here’s another:

And there’s this one as well:

The event at which Mr Lewis misspoke was run, presented and owned by women – and no objection was raised at the time. Some have tried to raise indignation because a female voice was heard saying, “This is supposed to be a safe space”. Here’s the owner of that voice:

On top of all the foregoing is the fact that Mr Lewis himself has apologised for his words, which he accepts were completely inappropriate (even though the way they were said ran counter to the misogynistic use that is correctly vilified).

So we’ve established that the fake outrage over Mr Lewis is a storm in a teacup. But a debate could still be useful – to point out the many similar outrages caused by Conservative MPs.

I mean, opponents of the government could raise the obvious policy points:

But let’s admit it – the time would be far better-used discussing the transgressions of individual Tories. Aaron Bastani, whose social media organisation Novara hosted the event at which Mr Lewis said his offending words, listed a few possibles – including, for the sake of fairness, one example concerning a Labour MP:

Boris Johnson is worth an article in his own right – and the Metro has obligingly provided one. In it, Yvette Caster comments on his claim that women go to university because “they’ve got to find men to marry”, that female graduates are responsible for rising house prices – and are making it difficult for other families to get housing, that working women should get back to the home because they are responsible for young people’s antisocial behaviour.

There’s this: “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.”

I strongly recommend that you visit the article to experience the full horror.

But Mr Johnson isn’t the only Tory transgressor. What about James Heappey?

I wrote an article on Vox Political about this – ahem – “gentleman”, along with Tory Nick Harrington who said Ireland could “keep its f’king gypsies”. What charming men!

Moving back to the Cabinet, what about Michael Fallon, who called a journalist a “slut”, although it seems he would be more accurate if he applied the term to himself:

Fallon’s people have denied that he used the word but they would, wouldn’t they (to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies’s words about another Tory defence minister, in another scandal)?

And then there’s the deputy chairman of Bermondsey and Southwark Conservative Association, Rupert Myers QC. Journalist Kate Leaver has alleged that he “forced himself” on her – and I hope everybody reading this knows what that means. If it is true, then not only should he be imprisoned but he should be stripped of his Tory membership and dismissed from the bar (of the court – although it seems he should also be banned from reputable drinking establishments):

Finally, let’s all remember that the inappropriate misuse of language is not restricted to men speaking about women. Let us consider Anna Soubry:

This incident happened in the House of Commons itself, during a Parliamentary debate. Ms Soubry’s words were not picked up by any of the many microphones in the chamber, but she certainly appears to be using those words.

These are just a few examples of incidents in which, mainly, Conservatives have used their “position of power and establishment” abominably and it could easily be argued that they have undermined Parliament by doing so.

So, yes, Nusrat Ghani – let’s have that debate – and let us use it to expose your Tory colleagues as sexist, misogynist, and criminal vermin.


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Laura Kuennsberg tweeted to embarrass Labour – and ended up shaming the Tories instead

The BBC’s Tory political editor, Laura Kuennsberg, tweeted in comment on the continuing controversy about Clive Lewis yesterday, as follows:

Mr Lewis is currently under attack from the Tory press for saying, at a ‘game show’ event taking place alongside the Labour Party conference a month ago, “Get on your knees, bitch” to another participant. See This Site’s article for a more balanced perspective.

Use of the phrase was humorous and not intended to cause offence. Nor did it, until the Conservatives had a horrific couple of weeks in Parliament and needed a ‘dead cat’ with which to distract the public away from their monstrous mismanagement of the country.

Ms Kuennsberg’s tweet was clearly part of that agenda – but it misfired badly as left-wingers used it to attack the Tories, rather than Mr Lewis, on Universal Credit:

On the atrocious misbehaviour of male Conservative MPs:

On Conservative policy, which has disproportionately attacked women (particularly austerity policies):

And in particular on the behaviour of Boris Johnson:

I may have missed a few tweets.

Incidentally, much was made of the fact that the video evidence of Mr Lewis’s words includes a female voice saying “This is supposed to be a safe space,” asserting that this indicated instant disapproval of his behaviour in the room at the time.

This has been disproved, as the following exchange between Julia Hartley-Brewer and Ash Sarkar shows:

It might be more interesting to explore why Ms H-B was “annoyed” by the “safe space” comment rather than Mr Lewis’s.


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This is NOT the state of British politics, but you should still be sickened [STRONG LANGUAGE]

Clive Lewis has apologised for the words he used a month ago. [Image: ANTONY KELLY].

You can tell the Conservatives are in trouble – one of their most fervent supporters on the social media has just whipped out a month-old ‘dead cat’ to distract us all from the Tory disasters about Universal Credit and Brexit, among all the others.

You’ll recall that ‘dead cat’ is a term for a tactic in which a dramatic, shocking, or sensationalist topic is introduced into any kind of discourse (in this case UK politics) in order to divert attention away from a more damaging subject.

In this occasion, it is an incident in which Labour MP Clive Lewis is heard saying, “Get on your knees, bitch,” at a Momentum-hosted game show running alongside the Labour Party conference last month.

He said it to Mr Sam Swann, a 28-year-old actor who was kneeling on the stage to take the score, and who clearly did not take offence. He told The Independent, “It is clearly jovial… I think Clive Lewis is an absolute legend.”

So no hard feelings. And let’s face it, if it was such a terrible thing to do, surely an outcry would have been kicked up immediately – right?

After all, the entire event was filmed by Novara Media and has been on that organisation’s Facebook page since September 28. There are only two comments and neither is a complaint about Mr Lewis.

But a week is a long time in politics, let alone a month – and the revelations about Harvey Weinstein broke between then and now. Suddenly it became possible for a remark made in poor taste but that was “jovial” to be considered entirely beyond the pale.

And then the Tories had a bad, bad couple of weeks. Clearly someone thought it was time to distract us all with a dead cat disguised as a “bitch” – so a cropped clip appeared on the Guido Fawkes blog.

This is not where British politics is at the moment – it’s just where certain people want us to be looking, instead of at the failings of the minority Conservative government.

It didn’t take long for rent-a-quote Labour MP Jess Phillips to stick her knife in, apparently assuming Mr Lewis said the offending words to a woman:

Novara’s Aaron Bastani clarified:

Tricky point, this, as brosocialism is a word that can be weaponised against the people to whom it refers. People identified as such are said to see the political discourse as being entirely about the class struggle, with problems of racism and sexism arising from that. There is an argument for it – referring back to Weinstein, you can see that his crimes (if he’s guilty of them, which has yet to be proved in court) arose from the fact that he was in a position of power over others, which is exactly what the class struggle is about.

Mr Bastani’s point is that accusations of sexism against him can’t apply as he and Novara do not discriminate on grounds of gender. Fair point?

If all her mates are women, then doesn’t that mean Ms Phillips is sexist? And besides, what about the upper-class elephant in the room?

It seems clear that Ms Phillips is mistaken to bang the sexism drum, as the following suggests:

https://twitter.com/ScouseGirlMedia/status/921502577816203264

That seems to be the attitude from those who were there:

Meanwhile, people are calling out Guido Fawkes blogger Paul Staines for hypocrisy, as he freely uses the word “bitch” in his own writing. Examples follow:

And what about the way followers of the Guido Fawkes blog have treated Dawn Foster? Read this:

The misapplication of the sexism label has incense many commentators. Let’s go back to Aaron Bastani’s comment, pointing out that Mr Lewis was talking to a man. Here’s the response from Guido Fawkes:

Brace yourself for the following responses:

It seems some Tories and Tory supporters have been trying to get on the bandwagon, but they’re being shot down:

https://twitter.com/SeemaChandwani/status/921384113772298240

Finally, let’s have a dose of reality:

And:


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How to upset super-rich exploiters: The maximum wage

Small change: That’s all employees can hope to get while company executives retain sole power to determine pay.

It seems to This Writer that Jeremy Corbyn has struck a nerve, here.

All he had to do was mention the possibility that Labour might introduce rules limiting executive pay in relation to that of the lowest-paid employee and a storm of protest arose – from the high-paid, the privileged, and the ‘entitled’.

It is exactly as This Site stated a couple of days ago – and as Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis has pointed out in an article in the Mirror.

“It’s a strange country indeed where the fact that top bosses earn more in two and half days than most people earn all year causes less outrage than a proposal to limit pay at the top. I suggest looking more closely at who was causing the uproar,” he wrote, echoing my own words.

He pointed out that claims that everybody benefits when the rich get richer are nonsense: “The wealth isn’t trickling down, it’s flooding up”.

Higher pay rates mean CEO’s are causing instability by leaving after only short tenures: “They are cashing in rather than aiding the long-term growth of the company.”

There is no point in ‘naming and shaming’ companies whose bosses take huge salaries and incentives while employees have to claim in-work benefits to survive, because: “You can’t shame the shameless.”

Publication of Directors’ pay was originally intended to shame companies into restraining pay, but has had the opposite effect, encouraging companies to compete with each other on pay. And those that might want to act find they can’t – because they would be paying less than the going rate, attracting nobody.

So it is the duty of government to act in the name of the majority.

Perhaps the only serious criticism of the plan to limit firstly the pay of private companies carrying out contracted-out work for the government, so that bosses earn a maximum of 20 times their lowest-paid employees, is that the traditional way of rebalancing inequality is via tax.

Why can’t taxation be used to address the issue, as Joseph Harker asked in The Guardian?

The simple answer is that it can – but not on its own.

If rich executives were taxed extra, solely to fund in-work benefits for the poor, they would bitch like hell that their money was being stolen and given away as handouts for the undeserving.

It would be a lie, but it’s one they like to use.

The Tories also like to claim that the higher-paid would simply find ways to avoid paying tax if the rate was higher than it is now – which is why they have been merrily cutting back the amount that they and their rich friends contribute.

No – pay needs to be re-balanced so that working people receive the amount they deserve.

Has anybody ever explained what company executives do that is so deserving of – what is it now? – 180 times as much remuneration as the people who actually generate their firm’s profits? Anyone?

Taxation is appropriate, as Mr Lewis writes – but only in conjunction with fair pay ratios. A higher tax rate for people earning obscene amounts could only be seen as fair if it is combined with tax breaks for firms that offer fair pay. It has been suggested that such businesses could even be rewarded with a British Standards ‘kite mark’.

So the idea of a maximum pay level, set at a certain multiple of minimum pay at any given firm, is sound.

Suspicion should not be heaped on Jeremy Corbyn, Clive Lewis and Labour for suggesting it.

It is not an unrealistic idea, as many have claimed – in fact several other countries have already implemented it, but your bosses probably didn’t want you to know that. Take a look at this Skwawkbox article for details.

Instead, let us place blame for the current situation where it is due – on the corporate mouthpieces who try to suppress any action that may hinder their rampant, naked greed.

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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