Shake It All About

No sign of a grassroots Remain movement yet, I see. If anything defines the EU’s predicament, it’s the absence of people power to sustain it. How many of us In voters do you reckon would turn up on Calton Hill for the EU rally? You could get more Hibs fans for a pitch invasion.

What would our banners say – Embrace the Autocracy! Vote Remain for an Outside Possibility of Democratic Reform! We Love the EU…Except for TTIP!

It reminds me of our march along Princes Street, up the Mound and on to the Meadows in 1992 when the European Council met in Edinburgh. We hijacked it for a pro-assembly devolution protest complete with genteel Edinburgh chants…

What Do We Want?

A Measure of Devolved Administration!

When Do We Want It?

As Soon as it’s Convenient!

It was a demo with its pinkie raised. But I did get to hear Hamish Henderson sing Freedom Come A’ Ye from the open top bus. And I had a pint with Willie McIllvanney. From that time, as we digested the scorched earth effect of a shock Tory election win, the determination grew that we must create our own political culture and find a forum to express it. The doubters – and there were many among Labour and the Lib Dems – wanted the opposite. They argued the constitutional argument had failed and we should step off the gas. For the rest, including Scottish Labour Action, it proved the case for aggressive campaigning, civil disobedience and placing self-determination at the heart of politics. We already had the Claim of Right and the movement was broadening at the time with the argument, philosophically at least, winning. But it was the early nineties when the vision took hold that there was nothing to protect us from Tory governments and it certainly wasn’t 50 Labour MPs.

John Major fought his Maastricht rebels and resisted Scotland’s demands all of which helped crystalise in our minds an idea of a modern self-governing Scotland within a community of European democracies.

So from our effete amble through Edinburgh something did grow. Today it is a Holyrood Parliament, more powers than we dared dream of back then and a national mindset accustomed to thinking, if not actually embracing, national independence.

Maybe, just maybe, the shock that comes from a narrow win in the UK accompanied by a glance around the festering insurgency in other member states, will propel the EU institutions into a frenzy of introspection. It would be a mistake to imagine this can be dismissed as a British problem. There is a deep trench in opinion now as we saw this week in Austria – not so much Left v Right as Permissive v Intolerant.

This is discontent that only a supra national organisation can address but are there signs that the EU is doing so beyond the predictable mewling?

We all have our doubts and fears – no one is immune from asking questions about the flow of immigration and its implication for public services, for employment, and, yes, in some areas, for crime too. Is it a surprise that a population confronted daily by media messages about medieval self-styled Islamists grows afraid?

The first reaction is self-protection and withdrawal, double-locking the door behind us. But if there is an answer it surely lies in a communal approach and a systematic organised process for deciding numbers, treatment and distribution of those seeking a new life. It is a testament to European success that others would risk life and family to share in what we have created. Many of us are proud that asylum seekers, refugees and economic immigrants see our country as a promised land. We must admit too that we have also played our part in creating the mayhem from which many of them escape.

Britain’s referendum is a monster of a thing – if Cameron’s relentless indyref style fear-mongering were sincere you’d have to ask if he isn’t some kind of idiot for holding a vote on an issue he claims could be catastrophic for the country. As it is, it’s now so toxic among the Tories that even a win might not save Cameron from defenestration and the Tory Party from splitting.

On the other hand it might just be the kind of event that snaps people into reality. It might reach down into their inner self and rekindle what for many was the cathartic experience of facing total destruction in war with a sense of togetherness they had never previously known.

The moans about bureaucratic interference are the chaff that surrounds everyday life anywhere. The unloved politicians of Brussels are the same as unloved politicians in Britain. The problems they face are sometimes too big for anyone to solve. We as voters need something and someone to complain about.

But we also need someone who can manage a complex and inter-connected world on our behalf. That is the EU’s role and it depends on us believing that it acts in our best interests, even if incompetently at times. The shame is that for many of us, the custom of granting Brussels the benefit of the doubt on such matters has become harder.

The UK’s may not be the last referendum on membership and, assuming we survive this one, the EU will need a plan of action if it isn’t to be splintered from within. There is an element of Last Chance about the British vote.

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26 thoughts on “Shake It All About

  1. Their fear-mongering lies will haunt the tories post-referendum. The party will split. So will the so-called united kingdom. The ground cleaves beneath Ruthie; and not just because of the weight of that tank.

  2. Between a rock and a crap place … so to speak. Thats the EU/ UK question.

    Between a crap place and a great place … as I think. Thats the UK/Scotland question.

    As for Scotland, it could try chipping away at that rock. Europe must see that it needs fixing given the Austria vote being so close.

    • Robert Graham

      agree with your thoughts on both , one thing that has come up recently the proposed Turkish entry to the EU if the Brexit campaign pursue this one it could very well tip an already very touchy English electorate into voting OUT then the fun starts if the other parts of Britain vote to stay .

  3. He’s nothing if not predictable. This time though, Camo doesn’t have Labour fronting his efforts with an electorate who still trusted them to some degree. No, he’s right out there in front and reckoning that he pulled it off before, he can do it again.

    If he’s not careful, he may be in for a rude shock.

  4. I don’t know about a Remain grassroots organization but there is information out there if you are willing to read it.

    • There is also this which highlights the incompetence and corruption , the EU like communism is a great ideological idea but unfortunately when these ideologies are corrupted by greed everyone loses. I have heard lots of people including A Salmond and N Sturgeon say that the EU only needs reform and that is best done from the inside , if that were true surely Angela and Co would be willing to reform it, FFS we have been members for 43 years and it has only gotten worse

  5. The problem for the EU is one of timescale now. Even if they are willing to make changes (and I don’t mean changes to satisfy Nigel Farage) and they have the media access to get their message across it is questionable whether or not the EU juggernaut can now turn things around sufficiently to calm the general populace across Europe.

    I would previously have described myself as a definite “In vote” but I’ve now got very significant reservations and I may yet vote to leave.

    I think that until such times as the current set up is stabilised and reformed to gain a higher level of approval from the voting population of all the member countries then discussions about enlargement should be postponed.

    Under no circumstances should Turkey be welcomed into the fold and that for me is red line issue.

    • There is little chance of Turkey acceding while Erdogan is in charge. He has moved the country away from the accession criteria. Turkey was moving towards being compliant until he was elected. On press freedom alone Turkey has gone backwards.

  6. Steve Asaneilean

    Unlike Indyref1 this EU campaign has been fought out entirely in the rarefied atmosphere of high finance, big business, chattering class papers, Radio 4 shows that no-one really listens to and, of course, Westminster politics.

    There has simply been no grassroots involvement or interest at all in my neck of the woods – no hustings, no stalls, no posters – absolutely nothing at all. It’s only 4 weeks away but no-one mentions it at coffee break or in the supermarket or in the pub.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the turnout is little better than 50% or maybe even less.

    Which way will it go? Well, I suspect that in England at least the vociferous “leavers” may overwhelm the reluctant “remainers”.

    I loved George the other day telling us that if we voted out then house prices would fall – to which my immediate response was “well done George – you just given everyone under the age of 35 who wants to buy a house a good reason to vote Leave”. Eejit.

  7. I remember being told during our referendum campaign that EU enlargement was absolutely, certainly, implacably off the table; so much so that even though an independent Scotland wouldn’t have enlarged the EU by one square inch or one single person, we still couldn’t be allowed in because there wasn’t enough room at the top table.

    If the EU DOES begin moves to let Turkey in, it says something pretty awful about the whole thing. Turkey clearly doesn’t have secure borders with countries that are currently in the midst of an extremely ugly civil war. It persecutes its Kurds, who might the most “enlightened” and decent people in the entire region.

    Anyway, as time goes on and even though I find myself thoroughly depressed by the campaigning techniques of the Outers, you have to admit that the arguments for staying in are the same crappy ones we heard during our campaign and many of the arguments for coming out are the same as ours were. The EU IS undemocratic. It IS apparently incapable of real internal reform. It DOES primarily serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of the weak and vulnerable, albeit with a veneer of social justice-ish things like the Working Time Directive. How much use is that to the unemployed people in Greece though? How much use is it to know that the EU doesn’t really direct 90% of our laws when the people of Italy and Portugal aren’t actually allowed to choose their own governments if Brussels disapproves? What good is even an independent Scotland’s input to a Common Fisheries Policy that allows Norwegian and Spanish vessels to plunder our cod stocks to the point where they’re barely viable any more?

    I’m still not sure which way I’ll vote. I find both sides of the official campaign utterly odious. I’m not even sure that matters. I didn’t much like some of the people on the Yes side of our referendum. The principle is what matters and I’m not sure the EU actually has any principles worth defending. My only fear is that a vote to come out puts the radical right of the Tory party into power in the UK and we’re stuck with an even worse situation than we have now.

    • Agree with most of your comment. I’m avoiding ALL sides of this as I feel conflicted and don’t really want anyone to tell me the rights and wrongs of IN or OUT.

      Mostly I’m more than likely to vote to stay as the thought of Westminster and establishment with no “gatekeeper” scares me far more.

      I look back at the Indyref fondly for the camaraderie and positive discussions and even for the arguments!

      But this referendum is depressing…

    • If the EU is undemocratic what was that election for MEPs all about then? There is an argument to be had over the relative powers of the European Parliament and the Commission but the Parliament is getting more powerful and has become more powerful. The EU is thus becoming much more democratic.

      This comment shows you have not been paying attention and have simply absorbed Brexit soundbites.

  8. Gavin.C.Barrie

    Well. I wouldn’t side with Cameron, but then I wouldn’t side with Johnson either.

    Prediction – if England votes Out and Scotland votes In, and Scotland votes count swings the result to In, England will not accept the result. This UK Union will stand before us naked to behold.

    • Gavin,

      That’s the result I’m hoping for. I want to see the little Englanders explode. I want everyone in Scotland to see their naked apoplectic rage and indignant entitlement. I want them to vent their spleens and everyone see their true feelings towards us. Then I want independence.

      It’s the simple things in life that keep me going!

    • douglas clark

      You could be right. If I am reading Scotland Goes Pop correctly the two sides are running about 50:50. Yet the Scottish vote appears to significantly support a remain position.

      Even if that does not happen, it is pretty much being framed as a question about David Camerons leadership and that is a very shakey nail to base a campaign around.

  9. brian watters

    If this was just a vote for or against the EU i would vote OUT , However this is so much more than that ; it is also (and id say predominantly) a vote to hand over our destiny to those people (bastards in grey suits as John Major described them) in the Tory party , UKIP and the xenophobic English tabloids who are fueling and funding the OUT campaign. Id rather we take our chances of securing our own independent place and conditions within the EU than give those kind of people any credence from Scotland ; so i will be voting REMAIN and would urge everyone else to.

  10. interesting post covering the dilemma. Thanks Derek

    “Maybe, just maybe, the shock that comes from a narrow win in the UK accompanied by a glance around the festering insurgency in other member states, will propel the EU institutions into a frenzy of introspection.”

    Unfortunately, this is not going to happen. Any institution which negotiates such a malign arrangement as the TTIP is not going to pause for a moment when Project Fear (Remain) wins.

    David Cameron, George Osbourne, some US Generals and Goldman Sachs versus Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the “bastards in grey suits”. That is no choice at all.

  11. For interest, there is a wider ‘movement’ gaining some profile across Europe that has received little or no attention in the public discourse in Scotland about the EU and its future direction – DiEM25 (‘Democracy in Europe Movement 2025’)


    And I agree with bjsalba’s comment earlier: the Wee Bleu Book written by SNP MEPs is a worthwhile read.

    • Stewart, as Lord Flashheart from Blackadder said “I like the cut of your jib”, Democracy as you’ve identified is the issue which I think concerns many of us. Even when decisions are taken with which we largely agree the fact that they’re taken in apparent isolation is what concerns us.

      I can’t recollect his name but on Channel 4 News last night one of the Brexit people (ex Cameron back room guy) raised the point that not enough coverage of concerns of this nature is being made by either side. All the point scoring exercises with disputable figures that are being flung about are obscuring this aspect.

      Whether rightly or wrongly I don’t know but it is very easy to believe that the direction of EU power elite is to manoeuvre control away from the masses and into the hands of a select few in relative terms. Nothing seems to be getting done or seen to be done at any effective rate to allay this concern.

      • Part of the problem is the UK media pay almost no attention to what happens in Brussels at the Parliament or the Commission. It is out of sight and out of mind unless there is some confected outrage the Daily Mail or the Torygraph want to hype as a dog whistle to their readers. Such stories are by far the main ones on the EU in our media.

  12. The comments made during the indyref campaign by petty bureaucrats wanting to curry favour with Cameron didn’t help either, nor did their treatment of Greece which angered many potential remain voters. Someone above said they would be surprised by a 50% turnout. I suspect it’s more likely to be nearer 20%.

    • That could be really interesting – a narrow win for leave on a 20% turnout.

      Then what would they do?

      (Farage isn’t going to give up even if there’s a majority for remain, and Cameron might try to assert that those who didn’t vote are happy with the status quo – the contortions would be very entertaining.)

  13. has this been posted anywhere?
    Alright, you filthy animals. I don’t normally do this, because I believe that everyone should have the right to vote how they want at elections, but a) this ain’t an election, it’s a referendum so go shit yourself, and b) I honestly believe that the stakes are too high for me not to get involved here. If I can influence even one person with this post, then I’ll feel like I’ve done something important. As a result, feel free to share this far and wide as I’ve done a veritable fuckload of research and I don’t want all my hard work going to waste.

    So, I’ll put my cards on the table: I believe, very very strongly, that we need to stay in the EU. I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with David ‘PigFellatio’ Cameron, but in this unfortunate case I am, and here’s why.

    We stand to gain SO MUCH from staying in the EU. “How much”, you’re (probably not) asking? Well, I made a convenient list for your perusal, WITH sources, so you can’t be a twat and say ‘you’re making that up!’ and froth at the mouth like a rabid cunt.

    I know people on the internet like listicles with clickbait titles, so here are “14 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Leave The EU That Everyone Should Know! You Won’t Believe #8!”:
    1) The EU provides easy access to 1/3 of the world’s markets by value (in other words, the EU’s combined market value is 1/3 of the entire world’s, and we can tap into it whenever the fuck we want). [1] It also gives UK businesses preferential market access to over 50 countries OUTSIDE the EU, including some of the fastest-growing economies in the world like South Korea and South Africa. [2]
    2) The EU gives us better product safety. You know, so your toddler doesn’t impale him/herself on a shittily designed toy, or swallow a load of poisonous plastic. [3]
    3) The EU gives structural funding to areas hit by industrial decline (hello, Cornwall). [4]
    4) The EU gave us lead-free petrol. [5]
    5) The EU gives us cheaper mobile charges. [6] It also gives us cheaper air travel. [7] Fuck yeah, cheap things!
    6) The EU gives us cleaner beaches, rivers and air (hello again, Cornwall). [8]
    7) The EU gives us improved consumer protection and food labelling, so you actually know what it’s in your Chicken McNuggets (hint: it’s chicken. It wasn’t always chicken, though). [9]
    8) The EU has helped break up monopolies. [10] If you don’t know why monopolies are a Very Bad Thing, try playing the popular board game ‘Monopoly’ and see how many friends you have left when you win.
    9) The EU gives us cross-border policing to combat human trafficking, arms and drug smuggling, and terrorism. [11]
    10) Being a member of the EU means no paperwork or customs for exports throughout the single market, as well as the freedom to travel, live and work across Europe. [12] This one is particularly important for me as someone who likes to live, work and travel abroad. Do you have ANY IDEA how fucking great it is to be able to travel and work visa-free?! Having to a get a visa for every single country you enter is a nightmare, believe me. If you’ve ever tried to travel around Asia, Africa or South America, you’ll understand what I’m saying.
    11) The EU creates and helps uphold all kinds of awesome human rights, such as equal pay legislation, holiday entitlement, and the right not to work more than a 48-hour week without overtime. [13] I’d also like to point out that it’s some of these same human rights that David ‘PorkTwatter’ Cameron tried to erode back in 2014, with the EU playing a major role in stopping him. [14]
    12) The EU creates and upholds all kinds of great animal welfare legislation; it has the strongest wildlife protection laws in the world and contributes to improved animal welfare in food production. [15]
    13) The EU funds incredible scientific research and industrial collaboration (including, most recently, a project that may be the catalyst for a cure for breast cancer being found in the next few years, I shit you not). [16]
    14) Finally, and arguably most importantly, the EU has for 60 years been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after many years of bloodshed. [17] It has also assisted in the extraordinary social, political and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships, now EU members, since 1980. [18]

    2. European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – The EU’s bilateral trade and investment agreements – where are we?
    3. General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) – European Commission
    4. European Structural and Investment Fund – Cornwall Council
    6. Europe finally abolishes mobile phone roaming charges | Technology | The Guardian
    7. Air passenger rights – Your Europe
    8. England’s beaches clean up their act to meet tougher EU standards | Environment | The Guardian
    9. Food information to consumers – legislation – European Commission
    10. European Union competition law – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (I know I’m not supposed to use Wikipedia as a source for its less-than-rigorous academic standards, but FUCK YOU I’m not in uni anymore, I’ll do what I like).
    11. EU Cross-Border Policing Provisions, the View from One of the Schengen Opt-Out States 18 European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 2010
    12. DGs – Migration and Home Affairs – What we do – …Schengen, Borders & Visas – Visa policy
    13. European Convention on Human Rights – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    14. David Cameron’s plan to scrap the Human Rights Act delayed until 2016 – Telegraph
    15. Animal welfare – European Commission
    16. European Commission : CORDIS : Projects & Results Service : Breast Cancer Somatic Genetics Study
    17. The Second World War, motherfucker. Read a history book.
    18. The Cold War, motherfucker. Read a history book.

    And now, let’s take a moment to address some of the arguments for leaving the EU. Apart from the fact that I can’t find a single reputable study that suggests we’d be any better off outside of the EU (and believe me, I’ve looked; I want to research my counterarguments as thoroughly as my arguments), the most persuasive arguments I’ve found are what I’m going to term ‘the trade argument’ and ‘the immigration argument’.

    The trade argument goes as follows: if we left the EU, we could negotiate a sort of ‘amicable divorce’ where we somehow retain strong trading links with the EU while not being subject to its laws. Many people point to Canada as a good example of this model, which recently negotiated a CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement- do I have to google EVERYTHING for you?) with the EU. I have two retorts to this argument. My first retort: Canada was never a part of the EU in the first place. To return to the divorce analogy outlined above- whereby the EU and the U.K. are a sort of ‘married couple’ and trade is their kids- the U.K. seeking a CETA after leaving the EU would be like a nasty, messy divorce where one parent uses the kids as a weapon against the other, threatening to take them away whenever their demands aren’t met. Canada’s CETA, meanwhile, is like a married couple approaching someone else to have a threesome at a swinger’s party, which sounds a lot more fun and exciting, I’m sure you’ll agree. My second retort to the above argument is simple: why even take the risk? If we stay in the EU, our trade with them will continue to be prosperous and full of great sex while the kids are asleep (okay, I’ve taken the analogy too far now). If we leave, however, there’s a chance any trade agreement could fail catastrophically and leave our economy in a shitstorm. In fact, I would argue the likes of Germany, France and other leading EU nations would not simply let us pick and choose what rules and trade agreements we adhere to, so the likelihood of us being absolutely fine, trade-wise, after leaving the EU seems overly optimistic. Plus negotiating a CETA of any kind could take years and have a completely uncertain outcome. Again, why take the risk? An additional point: arguments no. 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12 above are examples of really great laws and regulations the EU has introduced. If you say you want to leave the EU so we have autonomy over our own laws, you know that you’re effectively handing control of our country over to David ‘HideTheSausageLiterally’ Cameron, don’t you? In terms of making laws that benefit all of us, I trust the EU way more than that guy.

    The immigration argument tends to centre around the whole ‘visa-free work and travel’ thing, and is generally espoused by people terrified of dem immigantz stealin are jobz. Alternatively it’s espoused by people afraid of terrorists being able to come here more easily, but for that I’d refer you to point no. 9 above; we’re safer from terrorism in the EU because we can share intelligence and resources with other countries more easily. But back to the ‘stealing our jobs’ fear; while it’s true that technically speaking there could be an influx of foreigners coming to claim your particular job at any moment, just remember, we’ve been part of the EU for 43 years now and it hasn’t happened yet, despite what the mainstream media may tell you (and you DEFINITELY shouldn’t trust those guys; more on that later). Seriously, do you know ANYONE, personally, that has had their job stolen by a foreigner? Be honest now. I’d be willing to wager that you don’t, and I’ll explain why that is too: the immigrants that are coming here are not stealing YOUR jobs, specifically. They’re either starting their own businesses (in which case they’re actually creating jobs), or they’re skilled labourers taking jobs there just aren’t enough trained British people to take (such as doctors or surgeons), or they’re unskilled labourers taking the jobs that you don’t want (like toilet cleaning or washing dishes). Incidentally, about a year ago I taught English to some Eastern European immigrants who worked in a salad-packing factory in Lichfield. One Latvian girl was actually a teacher back home, but she was making more money as a salad-packer here than she was as a teacher in Latvia(!)- the point being that unskilled immigrant workers are generally happy to work shitty menial jobs that no British person wants, and your cushy 9-to-5 office job is not under threat. Not even a little bit- so don’t worry your xenophobic little head about it. Oh, and one last thing on this subject, to paraphrase Louis CK: maybe, if an immigrant with no contacts, no skills and no local knowledge of the language and/or culture can steal your job, maybe, just maybe, you’re shit at your job.

    If you’ve made it thus far through this absolute essay of a post, congratulations! You’re nearly at the end! But before I go, I just want to hit you with one final thought. Over 80% of UK newspapers are owned by five right-wing media billionaires (aka five massive cuntstacks): Lord Rothermere (Daily Mail), Rupert Murdoch (Sun/Times), Richard Desmond (Express), and the Barclay Brothers (Telegraph). Murdoch is an Australian living in New York and Rothermere lives in France, while the Barclay Brothers live in the tax havens of Monaco and Guernsey. All of them use tax haven entities to avoid UK taxes. And guess who wants to stop billionaires using tax havens to avoid paying their taxes? That’s right, the EU. So of COURSE the British newspapers are trying to persuade you to leave the EU; it benefits their owners personally. The moral of the story is, don’t gather your views from newspapers. Do some research like I have with this post, you lazy twonknoggin.

    In conclusion: we’re in a really great position right now. We’re part of the EU with all the benefits that entails, but without being tied to their notoriously unstable currency. Leaving the EU would not only be hypocritical since we spent so much time telling Scotland they shouldn’t leave the UK this time last year with all that lovely ‘better together’ rhetoric, it might also be downright stupid and harmful to our economy.

    tl;dr version: Vote to stay in the EU, you filthy animals. Because reasons. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

    748S / HM1100S /

  14. I’ll be voting to stay in because I’ve some sort of emotional or romantic attachment to the idea of Scotland being part of Europe. However, I hate what the EU did, and is doing, to Greece. I hate the headlong rush to TTIP. So I’ll vote with a heavy heart in the hope that things will get better.

    It’s fortunate that both sides have their own share of vile, odious creatures fronting the campaigns because one troop of lying slime balls neutralises the other, so at least they’re taken out of the equation.

  15. For anyone hoping to achieve an independent Scotland, a Remain vote is the only option. If Scotland’s Remain majority swings the total UK result despite an English Leave majority, the result will be interesting and instructive to say the least. If Scotland’s votes Remain but the UK total is for Leave, more interesting questions arise. Can Scotland’s population be deprived of their EU citizenship against their will? Is an appeal to international arbitrators possible? How long until the second independence referendum?

  16. Whilst on a break I had an interesting conversation with an English Brexit couple who were so anti immigration and EU it was embarassing. Other than that they were charming and good company.

    During one of the conversations I was asked why did ‘Sturgeon’ want to remain in the EU if ‘Britain’ voted out.

    I said we Scots would prefer to have our own destiny as 1 of 28 rather than 0 of 4.

    He looked astonished and said but you are part of the union. I then descibed how 56 of 59 Scottish MPs were overruled by the rest of the UK MPs on the Scotland Bill.

    But you are part of the union, the majority rules was his reply.

    When I said that the 56 MPs were the majority in Scotland he just said but they are part of the British Parliament so they aren’t a majority.

    I just shut up at that point.

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