Tag Archives: Labour

Four ways Labour could fix the crisis in local council finances – but will it?

Council funding: council tax bills are only a minor element in the funding of local authorities – most of the cash comes from central government’s Aggregate External Finance (AEF) grant. It is the composition of this grant that determines whether councils can cope – or will go bankrupt.

LabourList used to be a handy source of information about the UK’s largest political party – but that was a long time ago, before the infighting over Jeremy Corbyn, and Keir Starmer’s purge of the Left.

Still, it does produce the occasional item of interest, like a recent piece about ways a Labour government might solve the Tory-caused crisis in local council funding.

Six English councils have announced effective bankruptcy since 2020, and there is said to be a £4 billion funding gap across the board.

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“£4 billion? That’s nothing,” I hear you say. “Tories give sums like that to their buddies in return for hot air.” True. But LabourList has suggested four possible ways of improving council funding.

The big question is: which will Keir Starmer rubber-stamp? Or will he ignore the problem, like the Tory he is?

Here are the possibilities:

Proposal 1: Rework the local government needs assessment [the Fair Funding Review].

The government launched a ‘fair funding review’ in 2016, but this has not progressed since a consultation in 2018. Not having this in place in England makes it a significant outlier in the international community, gradually untethering the distribution of local government finance from local need and resource.

The Fair Funding Review should be reopened and delivered, paving the way for yearly needs assessments and longer-term funding settlements.

Proposal 2: Establish a systematic form of territorial equalisation between local authorities.

England is an outlier in not having a systematic form of territorial equalisation, that ensures solidarity and parity in needs-based revenue between location.

Germany, Italy, and Japan all utilise forms of vertical (central to local) and horizontal (between location) redistributions of major income streams (including elements of personal, company, consumption, and asset taxes) that ensure that all locations have access to sufficient resources and the ability to deliver minimum service standards.

Importantly, the funding provided through the equalisation systems in Germany, Japan and Italy is not ringfenced. This results in individual local authorities having significant discretion over the income they receive.

Proposal 3: Establish a standing commission, akin to the ‘English Devolution Council’ proposed by the Institute for Government.

Discussions between councils and the government about local financial pressures, distribution of funds, or the impact of national policies are haphazard and often adversarial. To strengthen this relationship, we propose a one-stop, statutory body to provide discussion forum for local authority representatives and the government.

Proposal 4: Develop a long-term programme exploring assigning national tax revenues to local authorities.

A fixed percentage of the revenue from one or more national taxes could be assigned to local government as a whole. Taxes that could be considered in this regard include income tax, VAT, employers’ NI, corporation tax, vehicle excise duty, and stamp duty.

The revenue could then be distributed according to the needs assessment developed in Proposal 1. This would counter the problem faced by many proposals for fiscal devolution: that richer areas raise more money, increasing inequality.

All of these ideas are based on the situation in Germany, Italy and Japan, which suggests that, perhaps, only minimal research has been done.

Still, a little is better than none at all.

But no amount of research can do any good if a government is not interested in implementing it.

And Keir Starmer is haemorrhaging votes because of his blind loyalty to Israel in that country’s brutal slaughter of innocent citizens of Gaza.

Which of the four ideas above will he implement? Well, he may not have the chance to consider any of them.

Source: Four ways Labour could fix the crisis in local council finances – LabourList


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Mick Lynch: how to ruin your reputation with a single statement

Mick Lynch: after years of incisive, accurate commentary, he has blundered badly.

RMT trade union hero Mick Lynch has put his foot in his mouth in an extraordinary way.

Here’s what he’s said:

Voters don’t see it that way. They think, as Simon Maginn said in a response on ‘X’, that “changing one set of neoliberal austerians, NHS-profiteers and foreign-war-enthusiasts for another isn’t going to change anything that needs changing”.

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That’ll be why others who are less prone to explanations have been as blunt as this:

Here’s the consensus view of everyone who has been paying attention since Keir Starmer took over as leader of what used to be called the Labour Party:

And what’s this?

So Mick Lynch thinks Labour is the only way people should vote at the general election – but will support Jeremy Corbyn if he stands as an independent?

That will look like hypocrisy to many people – especially the Tory commentariat.


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UK to demand Israel/Gaza ceasefire – but only after ‘chaos’ in the Commons

Lindsay Hoyle: his choices in the ceasefire debate led to considerably more contrition than you can see in this image.

What an unholy mess.

After Commons Speaker Lyndsay Hoyle broke convention to accept an Opposition amendment to an Opposition motion calling for a ceasefire in the Israel/Gaza conflict, the debate on the most serious issue facing the world today descended into a farcical row about procedure.

Hoyle left the Speaker’s chair while the debate was still ongoing, prompting Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, to demand that he return to the House of Commons to explain what had happened.

He said if the Labour Party’s amendment was carried, then the SNP vote would not be held. He said this amounted to telling the SNP “our views and our votes in this house are irrelevant to him”.

According to the BBC, Conservative and SNP MPs then walked out of the Commons chamber in protest at Hoyle’s handling of the debate. Concerns were repeated that he had been pressured into accepting Labour’s amendment with threats that, otherwise, he would not be re-elected as Speaker after the general election.

On top of all this, some smartass called for the remainder of the debate to be held in private – meaning all members of the public must leave, broadcasting of proceedings ends, and the official record Hansard does not produce a transcript of what MPs say – but decisions are still recorded.

If it had passed, this would have raised more concerns about a lack of democracy and accountability. It didn’t, though.

Labour’s amendment – and then the SNP’s amended motion – was then passed without a vote – while SNP and Tory MPs were still outside the Commons chamber.

Because they walked out in protest at the Speaker, they did not have the opportunity to register their votes on the calls for an immediate ceasefire. So Labour MPs were very nearly the only ones voting.

In the meantime, Hoyle was located and reappeared to claim that he had not been put under any pressure by Keir Starmer or any other Labour MP.

“I wanted to do the best by every member of the house,” he said.

“I regret how it’s ended up. It was not my intention. I wanted all to ensure they could express their views. As it was, in particularly the SNP, were unable to vote on their own proposition.

“It is with my sadness that it ended in this position. It was never my intention. I recognise the strength of feeling of this house and its members. I will reflect on my part in that. I do not want it to have ended like this.”

He said he would meet party leaders and chief whips to discuss the best way forward, and added: “I thought I was doing the right thing. I do take responsibility for my actions.”

That was not enough for Mr Flynn. He acknowledged Hoyle’s apology but said the Speaker was warned that his decision would lead to the SNP not having a vote: “I am afraid that is treating myself and my colleagues in the SNP with complete and utter contempt.”

To Hoyle, he said: “Your position is intolerable.”

He clarified his position to journalists outside, saying there could be no vote on the SNP’s motion because the Labour party put pressure on the Speaker so that “Labour’s show was the only show in town.”

“This was all about something so much bigger than us and yet here we are talking about all of the wrong things” he says.

He said he had wanted to call for a ceasefire in Gaza with his party’s motion, but “this place has turned it into a complete pantomime.”

It is easy to understand why the SNP should be unhappy with Labour’s amendment, which is far more sympathetic to Israel than their motion would have been.

The amendment calls for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, but does not mention the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” which was part of the SNP motion and amounts to a war crime.

The Labour amendment also “condemns the terrorism of Hamas” and notes “that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence”. And it calls for the release of hostages and international aid to be allowed into Gaza.

Some have said the amendment amounts to demanding a ceasefire “when Israel feels like it” – which is no good at all because Israel will feel like it after Gaza is leveled and every last child, woman and man there is dead or has been expelled.

So, thanks to Labour’s saboteurs, a debate that should have condemned Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza became a silly squabble about procedure, with an amendment that makes Israel look like the victim passed almost unnoticed.

Benjamin Netanyahu must be laughing like the maniac he is.

Labour foiled as SNP supports ceasefire amendment to maximise chance of success

Outflanked: too bad, Tel Aviv Keith!

Keir Starmer’s apparent bid to spoil the SNP’s motion for the UK to demand a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has been foiled after Scottish MPs supported his amendment.

The Labour amendment adds in a significant amount of wording that seems intended to give Israel reasons to ignore the call for peace.

It should not have been called during an Opposition Day debate (as the SNP is also a party that opposes the Tory government) – but Commons Speaker Lyndsay Hoyle broke with Parliamentary convention to do so.

It seems he had been told by Starmer that Labour would not support his re-election as Speaker after the general election if he did not. That’s blackmailisn’t it?

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Many will see this as further proof that Starmer is a puppet of the Israeli government and more invested in pursuing its interests than in working for the good of people here in the UK.

But all of that became academic when the SNP’s Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, said he would support Labour’s amendment. He said it follows “months of public and SNP pressure”.

His statement said: “While the Labour Party amendment is deficient in a number of ways, we will nonetheless vote for it to maximise the chance of the UK parliament supporting an immediate ceasefire.

“Should it fall, we urge all MPs to back the SNP motion in kind.”


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Is Labour sabotaging Gaza ceasefire motion to appease Israel

Keir Starmer: see that flag behind him? Is it the emblem of his real bosses?

Today’s the day! But will it be the day Labour sabotages the Gaza ceasefire motion in a bid to appease Israel?

As This Writer types, MPs in Westminster are set to vote on whether to demand a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in what is left of the Gaza Strip.

The motion has been tabled by the Scottish National Party and enjoys widespread support among the people of the United Kingdom. A petition demanding that MPs also support it has been signed by more than 50,000 people:

But Labour leader Keir Starmer has apparently told his MPs to reject it – because it correctly states that Israel is inflicting collective punishment, which is a war crime, on the non-combatant civilians of Gaza:

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Instead, Labour and the Conservatives have tried to muddy the issue by tabling motions of their own. Here’s Lisa Nandy – is she still the chair of Labour Friends of Palestine? That would be hypocritical now, wouldn’t it? – talking a lot of nonsense about her party’s motion:

The Labour amendment sets conditions for a ceasefire that make it less likely to happen; the claim that the SNP doesn’t stipulate that the ceasefire should be by both Israel and Hamas is nonsense – a ceasefire must involve both sides, and the other conditions are mainly to offer Israel excuses to continue its genocide (or so it seems to This Writer).

Here’s commentary by the ever-brilliant Jess Barnard:

There will be consequences for this – but it seems Starmer is gambling that too few voters will impose those consequences on him:

This Writer abandoned the tactical vote campaign some time ago. I advocate voters actually carrying out their civic duty, which is to read the manifestos and election literature of all candidates in your constituency and vote for whichever of them offers the best package for youNothing else should matter to you – certainly not which of the mainstream Establishment parties (Labour, the Tories, possibly the Liberal Democrats) should form a government.

This is the only way to achieve the change the UK needs and it is ironic that it requires us to do nothing more than what we should always have been doing anyway.

It certainly seems that some Labour MPs will face stern repercussions – such as those in the left-wing Socialist Campaign Group – if they oppose a motion that may help end the murder of innocent people, including children:

The three-line whip claim has been confirmed by ITV political editor Robert Peston. Commentators are asking an obvious question about it:

He’s no kind of leader if he can’t inspire his people to follow him; it strongly suggests that his entire approach is wrong.

And that suggests that we would be wrong to vote for him or his party in an election.

Commentators have already chosen their sides. You can tell from the tone of this article where This Writer stands, and here’s John Smith, son of the late and much-loved Harry Leslie Smith:

If the ceasefire motion is voted down, it will be a clear indication that our MPs are indeed in Parliament for the welfare of the few – the few in question being the Israeli government, its supporters, lobbyists and mouthpieces.

We know from events leading up to the start of World War II that appeasement does not work. If our MPs offer Israel an inch, it will try to take every square mile of Gaza. We must therefore judge our MPs on what they choose today – and respond harshly if their choice is wrong.


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Starmer’s dilemma: he’s not an alternative to the Tories and he isn’t even interesting

Stiff as a board: Keir Starmer simply isn’t interesting – and he doesn’t have any policies worth supporting.

The opinion polls suggest a landslide general election victory for the Labour Party – not because Keir Starmer’s policies are any good but because people are so sick of the Tories that any old rubbish will seem better.

It is likely to have the lowest turnout, as a percentage of the electorate, of any election since universal suffrage was introduced, meaning there will be strong arguments that whichever party forms the next government will not have a mandate and proportional representation should be introduced to restore power to the people.

The problem is that any government formed by Starmer will be as right-wing as Rishi Sunak’s, with policies that are indistinguishable from those of Sunak’s administration. In other words, none of Starmer’s policies will work either.

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And the UK’s electorate doesn’t turn out to elect right-wing governments. We don’t like them.

Consider the following:

So election expert Professor John Curtice reckons, “None of [the party leaders] enthuse the electorate, none of them are popular, all of them are regarded as dull as dishwater… So what’s the point of turning out to vote? If we give people a reason to vote, they’ll turn out.”

But people don’t have a reason to vote.

And Ruth Wodak said: “If there is a good opposition, if there’s an alternative programme, you might have a chance [to defeat far-right populism]… One has to provide alternatives, provide more participation so that citizens feel that they are acknowledged and that their worries are being taken seriously.”

There isn’t a good opposition. There isn’t an alternative programme. Keir Starmer has removed all his alternatives and cut back on participation – because, at heart, he is a Conservative cuckoo in the Labour nest.

Oh, he keeps pretending to offer more participation – here’s his current pledge:

But you can be sure it will be withdrawn long before anybody expects it to be put into practice, just like all Labour’s other pledges under Starmer’s leadership.

The UK needs alternatives – and we won’t get them from Labour or any of the other mainstream parties.

That’s why I am advising everyone to actually find out what the candidates in your constituency are planning to do, if they are lucky enough to be elected.

That is what party manifestos are for. Independent candidates also have policy documents and they will all be online for you to find and read.

You need to find and read these policy documents, and then you need to make a dispassionate choice, based on what you have read.

Which of the candidates offers the most policies that fit what you need? And, by that, I mean: who will improve your own life the most?

Do not consider how other people will vote, either in your constituency or the other 649 around the UK. That is not your concern.

It is not for you to worry about which party will get enough votes to actually enact its policies. This will lead you down the usual garden path to voting in a government that won’t do anything at all for the good of the country, like the one we’ve had since 2010.

BE SELFISH. Bizarrely, it might be the only way to get the kind of government that all of us need.


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Tories lose two more by-elections – but don’t believe Labour’s propaganda

The ballot box: it seems democracy in the UK has fallen to such a pitiful state that our governments are formed according to the number of people who DON’T vote, rather than the number who do.

Labour has won two more by-elections – but don’t be fooled by the party’s propagandists; Keir Starmer’s cronies only took the seats because disillusioned Tory voters stayed away from polling stations.

The polls were held in Wellingborough and Kingswood, after the recall of Peter Bone and resignation of Chris Skidmore (both of the Conservative Party) respectively.

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Wellingborough has an electorate of 79,376 people – but only 30,145 turned out to vote in the by-election. That’s about 38 per cent – less than half the total.

How can an election result based on such a low turnout be said to represent the will of the majority? The majority didn’t want to vote for any of the candidates!

Turnout was also 21,768 down from the 51,913 in the 2019 general election.

Looking at the numbers for each party, we see that Labour had 13,844 votes on February 15, 2024 – up from 13,737 in 2019… by just 107 votes. As a proportion of the total electorate, that represents a swing to Labour of just 0.1 per cent from 17.3 per cent of the electorate to 17.4 per cent.

So we can see that the reason Labour won, as has been the case in many recent by-elections, is not because that party has become more popular but because the Conservative vote collapsed. In 2019, 32,277 people voted Tory (41 per cent of the electorate), compared with 7,408 on February 15 (nine per cent). So that’s a percentage drop of 32 per cent.

As for Gen Kitchen, the new Labour MP: she cannot claim to represent a majority of Wellingborough’s electorate because 82.6 per cent of that electorate – 65,532 people – did not want her to be their MP.

Let’s move on to Kingswood, where the result was even worse – for both main parties.

The electorate is said to be 65,543 people but only 24,905 turned out to vote on February 15 – so, again, that’s about 38 per cent of the total. It’s a fall of 40,638 voters.

And the vote for both Labour and the Conservatives collapsed. The only reason Labour’s Damian Egan won is that his party’s vote didn’t fail quite as badly as the Tories’.

In 2019, Labour had 16,492 votes (24 per cent of the electorate at the time). On February 15, this fell to 11,176 votes (17 per cent of the electorate). That’s a fall of 5,316 votes (seven per cent)

But the Conservative vote fell from 27,712 (40.2 per cent) to 8,675 (13.2 per cent) – a massive 19,037 (27 per cent) drop.

Again, it may be said that, with 62 per cent of the electorate not turning out and 83 per cent not voting for that party’s candidate, Labour cannot be said to have a mandate in that constituency. Can it?

And people know.

Look at the comments on ‘X’:

What a disaster for democracy.


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Labour’s Rochdale by-election double-bind: hypocrites or election-throwers?

Azhar Ali: unsafe whatever he does.

Labour has put itself in a double-bind after its candidate in the Rochdale by-election apologised for voicing a well-known claim about the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

The party is rumoured to be about to suspend its candidate, Azhar Ali, after he accused Israel of complicity in the raid that killed 1,200 people and led to 250 being taken hostage.

It seems he not only posted about it on the social media but also passed comments on it in a community meeting.

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The BBC reported:

In the recording, which has not been heard by the BBC, Mr Ali is alleged to have said: “The Egyptians are saying that they warned Israel 10 days earlier… Americans warned them a day before [that] there’s something happening… They deliberately took the security off, they allowed… that massacre that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want.”

Egypt has indeed said that it warned Israel in advance of the raid. Still, Ali has had to make a grovelling apology to Israel’s supporters after his words were quoted by a hostile UK mainstream press.

Is that enough to save him from suspension, which would effectively end Labour’s Rochdale campaign?

Many think not. Skwawkbox is reporting that

suspending Ali would effectively end Labour’s campaign in the by-election, with no possibility to stand another candidate less than three weeks before polling day. Cynics have pointed out that the political fallout from exiting the election would be less damaging than Galloway beating Ali in a fair fight and accused the party of engineering the default.

But if Ali is allowed to continue, he would still face obstacles:

His willingness to stand for a party led by Keir Starmer, who has supported Israel’s ‘right’ to commit its war crimes against the Palestinians has already seen videos posted of him being ordered to leave doorsteps during his attempts to campaign. Such has been the contrast with the reception given to Workers Party GB leader George Galloway, a firm supporter of the Palestinians, that Galloway’s odds to win the by-election have been slashed from 16-1 to 2-1.

Not only that, but if Ali isn’t suspended, then Labour is endorsing a candidate who has admitted contradicting the party’s line on the Israel/Gaza conflict – and the inferred hypocrisy could be enough to cost it the forthcoming general election.

It seems Azhar Ali is set to lose, no matter what happens.

Source: Labour ‘set to suspend’ Rochdale candidate despite grovelling apology to Israel supporters – SKWAWKBOX


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Why IS Labour backing banker bonuses so the children starve?

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’s decision that a Labour government will not reinstate a cap on bankers’ bonuses has stirred up a storm of opposition among left-wing organisations – and voters.

The cap limits yearly bonus payouts for bankers to twice their salary; it was introduced by the EU in 2014 when it was intended to prevent excessive risk-taking after the global financial crash of 2008.

Kwasi Kwarteng scrapped it in his 2022 mini-budget – sparking widespread outrage for rewarding bankers during a cost-of-living crisis and growing levels of poverty in Britain.

But Rishi Sunak maintained the policy, bringing it into force in October 2023.

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Talking to the BBC on January 31, Reeves said: “The cap on bankers’ bonuses was brought in in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and that was the right thing to do to rebuild the public finances.

“But that has gone now, and we don’t have any intention of bringing that back. And as chancellor of the exchequer, I would want to be a champion of a successful and thriving financial services industry in the UK.”

“Successful and thriving”? Or “Excessively risk-taking”? The latter seems more likely to This Writer and it seems Reeves and Labour leader Keir Starmer are deliberately planning to repeat New Labour’s worst mistakes.

That certainly seems to be the feeling among left-wing organisations and individuals, according to Left Foot Forward:

Labour’s grassroots left-wing organisation, Momentum, described it as a “terrible decision,” which is “totally out of touch with Labour’s values and public opinion.”

“For over 40 years our economic model has sucked wealth from the country and enriched a few in the City.

“It even crashed the economy in 2008. Yet instead of learning the lessons from New Labour’s failures, Starmer and Reeves seem determined to repeat them.”

The Peace & Justice Project, founded by the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said:

“Labour’s latest U-turn, the refusal to reinstate the cap on bankers’ bonuses, shows it is unwilling to challenge the establishment status quo…”

In a post on X, Corbyn asked: “Where is the justification for letting the rich get richer while children starve and people sleep rough on the streets?

“We cannot afford these obscene levels of inequality. It’s our job to offer a real alternative – one that puts human need before corporate greed.”

On the social media, I found this:

And “MrsGee” posted on ‘X’: “What about ‘uncertainty’ in peoples lives, in a profiteer-driven cost of living crisis @LabourSJ? What about millions of children in poverty, families unable to afford to eat & heat their homes? You want them to continue to suffer when you could help with a wealth tax? Poor show.”

Labour’s inconsistency in boosting bankers while pushing families into poverty by keeping the two-child cap on child benefit was also widely pilloried:

Apparently a Labour spokesperson said, “We are not in the business of telling business what to do about pay and conditions.”

But this is nonsense. Telling businesses what to do about pay and conditions is precisely what governments – or in this case, possible governments-in-waiting – should be doing.

Source: Labour to back bankers’ bonuses: How the Left responded – Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate


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Muslim support for Labour plunges over stance on Gaza war: Poll | Middle East Eye

Flag-shagger: he’s so busy being ‘patriotic’ (whatever that means to him) that Israel-loving Labour leader Keir Starmer seems not to have realised he is haemorrhaging support.

Oh dear. What a shame:

A new poll suggests that Labour is losing significant support among British Muslims as Keir Starmer prepares for an expected general election later this year amid criticism over the party’s handling of the Gaza war.

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Data collected by Survation, commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network (LMN), showed that 60 percent of British Muslims who expressed a preference for a party said they would vote Labour. The poll was based on telephone interviews with a sample group of 682 people.

Survation said this represented a 26 percent drop in support since the last election in 2019 when 86 percent of Muslims previously polled by the company said they had voted Labour.

A spokesperson for LMN said the poll showed that the Labour Party risks losing a “generation” of potential new voters if its leadership does not change its position over the situation in Gaza.

This Writer wonders what Keir Starmer is planning to do to save all the seats he’ll otherwise lose with the Muslim vote.

My prediction: nothing.

Source: Muslim support for Labour plunges over stance on Gaza war: Poll | Middle East Eye


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