Tag Archives: Alistair Carmichael

In Full: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference: “Liberalism is needed more than ever”

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Conference in which he says the party will confound the doom-mongers and sets out why we can be proud in our records in Government. He paints a grim picture of life with the Tories governing alone and, after praising Willie Rennie, tells us  “Let’s go win.”

Good afternoon, Conference.

It is good to be back in Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is where I attended party conference of the Scottish Liberal Party for the first time here in 1983.

The party was very different then.   In fact it was a different party – liberals and social democrats were still in different parties.

The Scottish Liberal leader then was Russell Johnston.

The party Chair was Ross Finnie and the vice-chairs included a couple of young turks called Jim Wallace and Malcolm Bruce.

What ever became of them?

 

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Alistair Carmichael moves order giving power for votes at 16 to Holyrood

I can’t imagine Alistair Carmichael will have been much prouder in his political life than he was that night when he stood at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons and gave the Scottish Parliament the power to do something that he’s wanted to see for many years – give the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

He said:

On 18 September last year, the people of Scotland, including tens of thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds, voted in the Scottish independence referendum, and made the historic decision to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The participation of our young people in the vote was truly historic and inspirational to witness. We saw the young people who took part in the referendum in great numbers listen to the arguments, frequently ask the toughest questions, and make up their own minds in a mature and reasoned way. They showed that they were more than capable of being a part of Scottish democracy when they helped their country take the biggest decision we have faced for centuries.

Evidence suggests that, having listened to the arguments and participated in the debate, 16 and 17-year-olds voted in the same way as the population of Scotland as a whole—to maintain Scotland’s position in our family of nations. This is, of course, welcome in itself, but it also puts paid to the notion that those who are old enough to marry and have children are not old enough to weigh up the issues and decide how to cast a vote. It demonstrated the desire to be involved in an event that would shape the future of the country, and it demonstrated to us all that when people understand the issue before them, hear the arguments and know the facts, they want to use their democratic right to make a difference.

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Alistair Carmichael MP writes…A proud day as we move nearer to Liberal Democrat vision of home rule for Scotland

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2One of my first political campaigns was the 1979 referendum on a Scottish Assembly, as it was then styled.

The failure of that campaign was formative in my political thinking.  We all learned the hard way some simple political truths. Constitutional change is only achieved by working with people from other parties and of no party and that our liberal vision of Home Rule for Scotland within a strong federal United Kingdom is more relevant today than it has ever been.

As a teenager growing up in a small tight-knit island community I also quickly realised that local communities were best placed to make the decisions that affect them. We also understood that Government in Edinburgh was just as capable of getting things wrong for us as government in London.

Fast forward thirty five years and it was a proud day for me as Secretary of State for Scotland when we won decisively the vote to keep our 300 year old family of nations together with a promise of extensive new powers for our Scottish Parliament.

We set up the cross-party Smith Commission to bring people together and build consensus on what these new powers should be.

No party got everything they wanted but we owed it to the majority of Scotland who made the democratic decision to reject independence to see through their desire for more powers – a desire shared by our party.

I was pleased the Smith Commission aimed high.

The draft clauses I have published today will mean our Scottish Parliament will raise over half of what it spends. It will create a new Scottish Welfare State System with a starting budget of more than £2.5 billion.

And it will introduce votes for 16 and 17 years olds for Holyrood and local government elections.

Smith also made another important point that has not received the attention that it deserves, namely that the process of devolution should not stop in Edinburgh but should be driven to local communities across Scotland.

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16 and 17 year olds in England and Wales have every right to be disappointed

This week the Scottish Parliament and Westminster both pass a Section 30 Order. Section 30 is the bit of the Scotland Act 1998 which allows powers to be given from Westminster to Holyrood. Two years ago a Section 30 Order gave the Scottish Government the power to hold the referendum on independence. This week’s transfers the power to the Scottish Parliament to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the next Holyrood elections which take place in May 2016. It will have to be confirmed by the Privy Council in March but that’s just a formality.

This means that young people in Scotland will have a say on the way their health, education, transport, justice and housing systems are run. We know that giving young people the vote was a massive success in the referendum. My heart swelled up seeing them head into the polling station with real excitement and pride on 18th September. There is surely no excuse for denying them the say at any level. Scottish 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote at Holyrood and local elections – but when it comes to Westminster, they will have no say. Of course this could all change if the next Parliament legislates. They surely can have no excuse to delay.

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Carmichael talks green investment, energy and renewables

AlistairCarmichaelYesterday, Alistair Carmichael spoke at a Green investment conference in Edinburgh, which is, of course, home to the Green Investment Bank.

It was a strong pitch to persuade those attending that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government on policies that are both green and pro-businesss. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Scotland, there had to be a bit on the constitution, though, and the Smith Commission:

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Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

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Conference speeches: Alistair Carmichael – Coalition with Tories is like having a cat

Here is Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Conference morning, strangely devoid of news of his victory at the Lib Dem Disco last night.

Good morning conference and welcome back to Glasgow.

It has been quite a year since we last met here.

Last November this was a city united in grief when Police Scotland’s helicopter fell from the sky and crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub at the other end of Argyle Street, killing ten people.  The response from the people of Glasgow at that time was remarkable.   They showed the truth of the slogan that is on the lanyards most of you are wearing today – People Make Glasgow.

In July we hosted the best Commonwealth Games ever.

We saw some truly memorable world class performances.

No sooner was that over than we led the nation and the Commonwealth in commemorating the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

And then we had a referendum.

I confess I am speaking from a text this morning but I think that even without it I might have managed not to do a Miliband and forget to mention it.

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Let’s get some action on votes at 16

As I said on Friday, one of the best sights of the Independence Referendum was seeing enthusiastic 16 and 17 year olds heading to vote. They were so engaged in the process and it seems so unfair to take it from them now. Votes at 16 has been our party policy for a long time. It was our Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore who, along with Nicola Sturgeon, made it happen for the Referendum. It may not be practical to implement before next May, but we should at least try to get legislation passed this Parliament if we can.

Funnily enough, there is a Bill being debated in the House of Lords, a Private Members Bill brought in by our Paul Tyler. It was introduced on his behalf by Alison Suttie in June. It needs the Government to give up some time for it. This is something that we could make happen.

Unsurprsingly, Alistair Carmichael says it’s a matter of when, not if, 16 year olds get the vote:

The energy and enthusiasm of young people in the referendum campaign is something of which Scotland should be proud.

I have always believed that young people are much more politically engaged than they are given credit for. Never has that been clearer than during the referendum campaign. One of the most active volunteers for Better Together Orkney was in fact fifteen year old Jack Norquoy of Birsay.  Jack spoke at a packed meeting in Kirkwall Town Hall alongside Shirley Williams.  He made a powerful and compelling case for what he believed in.

Our young voters were given the opportunity and seized it with both hands. I believe that it is now only a matter of time until we see votes at 16 rolled out across the UK. That time should be now.

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Is Mike Crockart voting Yes to Independence?

You might think so from these photos of his office in the heart of Edinburgh West

Crockart yes 1

Crockart Yes 2

Not for the first time, his staff have had to take down Yes posters which had been glued on to the office windows.

Yesterday a cavalcade of Yes cars parked outside the office and played loud music next to Mike’s No Thanks street stall. Why do they bother with nonsense like that.

This, sadly, is one of the milder incidents of intimidatory behaviour which are becoming commonplace across Scotland.  I have lost count of the number of committed and passionate No voters who have very politely declined to take a poster because they are worried that their windows would be knocked in if they display it. It shouldn’t be like this. 

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The day Alistair Carmichael made me cry

Carmichael at Lib Dem No RallyOn Thursday night an all-star cast of Liberal Democrat giants addressed a rally of party members and supporters in Edinburgh. We had 2 Cabinet Ministers, 2 former and a current Scottish leader, 3nformer federal leaders and one of my political heroes, Shirley Williams.

I had had a quick read of Alistair Carmichael’s speech before the event, so I really have no excuse for the fact that it made me cry when he delivered it. The way he talked about taking his 5 week old baby to the polling station to vote for change in 1997 and how the family is going together to vote for a liberal vision of the future on Thursday made me fill up.

There was also a powerful “I’m not a nationalist but…” segment where he says that if you think our problems can be solved by maps or only in Scotland then, actually, you are.

Please excuse the photo. I arrived in plenty of time but spent so long blethering to folk, which isn’t like me at all, that the only seat left was right up at the back.

I was a bit sceptical about holding the rally in the first place and to be honest, I still am. I reckon that several hundred people out on the streets talking to voters would have been a much better use of our time. However, it has given us a rich variety of good quality speeches, including videos from Mike Moore and Charles Kennedy, who was filmed from the top of Aonach Mor on a wonderful sunny day. It was a fantastic sight.

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Carmichael and Crockart rock at the Ice Bucket Challenge

Two very different but very funny takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon from the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West.

Mindful of some concerns of wasting water, Alistair Carmichael did his with iced sea water from the beautiful Tingwall Pier near his Orkney home. He started with a  thinly veiled threat of terrible revenge on those who nominated him and then:

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael – Independence vote is far too important to shun

AlistairCarmichaelWriting in the Scottish Daily Record, Alistair Carmichael praises that paper’s “Missing Million” campaign.

It seems 300,000 people have not registered to vote, and many others will probably not turn out on referendum day.  The paper had already been urging readers to exercise their vote, with a 16 page pullout yesterday, and they are now actively tracking people who are not on the roll.

Alistair writes:

The Daily Record. There’s a reason it’s called Scotland’s Champion and the “missing million” campaign shows why.

On September 18, you, I and every other eligible voter will have

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Lessons must be learned from the Jo Swinson speculation

jo swinson by paul walterOn Thursday, George Eaton of the New Statesman blogged that Jo Swinson was about to replace Ed Davey in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

Today, the Guardian’s Nick Watt says that this is not the case and Jo is expected to become Secretary of State for Scotland in September after the independence referendum.

Nick Clegg, acutely conscious that the five Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers are all men, is expected to promote the business minister Jo Swinson to the cabinet. But she is expected to succeed Alistair Carmichael as Scotland secretary after September’s independence referendum in September if, as expected, the pro-Union side prevails. Carmichael would be praised for his role in the victory as Swinson took charge on introducing greater devolution to the Scottish parliament.

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Alistair Carmichael to co-host Scottish Fashion Awards

AlistairCarmichaelSomeone must have heard of Alistair Carmichael’s excellent skills at Ed Fordham and Russell Eagling’s wedding last Saturday. He’s only gone and got himself another hosting gig, at the Scottish Fashion Awards in September, just 17 days before the Referendum on independence.

Fibre 2 Fashion has the story:

The Scottish Fashion Awards have announced an impressive list of nominees and honourees for the 9th annual fashion extravaganza, which will take place in 8 Northumberland, London on 1st September 2014. The event will be co-hosted by The Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael

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Carmichael says: Come to Conference in Glasgow (and so do I)

Glasgow's "Squinty bridge" by Paul WalterSecretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has made a lovely little video to promote this year’s Autumn Conference. We’re returning to Glasgow. I will not mention the delicious irony that Alistair is actually sitting in Party HQ in Edinburgh. After all, it’s not as if there’s any rivalry between the two cities, or anything.

I’ll also not mention the taxi driver who told me, without any rancour, that he couldn’t wait for the Liberal Democrats to be wiped out.

Seriously, though, Glasgow is brilliant both as a place and a Conference venue and it’s well worth coming.

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Alistair Carmichael: “Torture is an abhorrent violation of human rights and dignity”

Carmichael Glasgow AmnestyToday is the UN’s Day of Support for Victims of Torture. Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has a long association with Amnesty International and he visited the Glasgow group last night to mark the occasion.

He spoke about the imprisonment of the Egyptian journalists, the death penalty, how Scotland has such a big impact on human rights as part of the UK and what the Coalition has done to advance the cause of human rights. The whole speech is available here on my blog, but …

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Scottish Liberal Democrats launch their European Election campaign – IN Britain, IN Europe, IN Work

Given the illustrious collection of single malts that there is in Scottish Party HQ, it’s hardly surprising that the party decided to launch its campaign of for the European elections in a distillery near Edinburgh. Alistair Carmichael, Willie Rennie and George Lyon checked out the products as they outlined the campaign themes.

Rennie, Carmichael and Lyon

There are no local elections in Scotland this year, but there is an added dimension with the approaching independence referendum. The Party of IN arguments apply just as much to Scotland staying in the UK as they do to the UK staying in Europe.

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Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael go independence myth busting

Saltire and Forth BridgeBoth Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael have tried their hand at taking on some of the pro-independence supporters’ claims about the consequences of independence today with varying degrees of success.

Before I start, I usually try to refer to SNP and Yes supporters as pro-indy people or something like that but it’s a bit clumsy. I say the Yes Lot, too, as long as people know I’m doing it in good spirit.  I don’t really like calling them Nationalists because the likes of Jim Murphy use that as a …

photo by: 4652 Paces
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Alistair Carmichael as many of you will never have seen him before

Do you know what, this independence referendum is actually starting to have some nice moments.  I would never have thought it. Sadly, few of them are to do with the actual substance of the campaign, but there’s always hope.

One of the best things about it for me is that for what I imagine will be the only time in our lifetimes, my Dad and I are on the same side in a political debate. I was absolutely thrilled when he took up volunteering for Better Together one day a week and he’s become a bit of an expert on the …

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LibLink: Alistair Carmichael: Let’s cut out referendum tension and concentrate on historical significance of referendum vote

Carmichael looking mean croppedLiberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael has written for the Daily Record about the need to conduct the independence referendum in a more respectful tone, citing examples of attacks from independence supporters on those who want to stay in the UK:

Cybernats – or internet trolls, to give them their proper name – wish Eddie Izzard serious harm simply because he has the cheek to disagree with them.

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Scotland mourns Margo MacDonald MSP

Contains Scottish Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.There won’t be a dry eye anywhere in Scottish politics this afternoon. Margo MacDonald, the spirited, warm-hearted, funny, plain-speaking, independent minded MSP for Lothians died this lunchtime.

Margo shot to prominence after winning the Govan by-election in 1973. Although she lost her seat in the General Election 2 months later, she made an impact on Scottish politics. She never returned to Westminster, but has been one of the real stars of the Scottish Parliament over the last 15 years. She …

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In Full: Alistair Carmichael’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

rally carmichaelCarmichael went all Pythonesque as part of the party’s “sunshine strategy” on Saturday at Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Aberdeen. “What has the UK ever done for us?”, he asked, apart from providing peace, prosperity and a whole great big list of other good things that we can’t do without.

He also spoke about the importance of supporting business to create jobs and prosperity in our communities.

Here is his speech in full:

 It is good to be back here in Aberdeen.

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Carmichael: We should be proud of what we are achieving in the UK, not talking about leaving

Union FlagIn a week where I’ve despaired a bit of the pro-UK campaign in the Scottish Independence Referendum, it’s good to see Alistair Carmichael come out brimming with pride at what we have and what we’ve built together in the UK. In a speech at Edinburgh University last night. Yes, it’s a wee bit listy, but we actually need to look at and appreciate what we’ve got rather than just assume that the grass on the other side is going to be greener. Frankly, when people are wooed by the thrill …

photo by: mrs.timpers
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A look ahead to Scottish Conference

AECC Aberdeen Some rights served by Graham ScottThis time next week, I’ll be on a train on my way to Aberdeen along with lots of other Scottish Liberal Democrats for our Spring Conference. This is the party’s main Conference, held over 3 days. Here’s my pick of the agenda.

The debates

Part of the reason I’m getting up at such an ungodly hour on Friday is to get up there for the first two debates. Alison McInnes, our justice spokesperson, has done much to highlight the many iniquities of our Justice system under the illiberal regime of Kenny MacAskill.

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Alistair Carmichael on Chris Huhne: he put the ‘T’ in Cancun

Cancun, Mexico. Some rights reserved by Nicolas KarimHow, you might ask, did we fail to cover this story this week? In a speech to lobby journalists, Lib Dem chief whip turned Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael regaled them with this story of the inner workings of the whips office, as the tuition fees vote neared:

‘One thing which I was thinking about recently was that Chris Huhne, in the interests of tackling climate change, had managed to be at some big summit in Cancun, so was not available to take part in the division on the day

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Can everyone please just play nice? Briefing against other Liberal Democrats and insulting party activists is never going to help.

carmichael and teddy bearWe’ve had some pretty strange and random articles appearing all over the place about who might replace Nick Clegg. The least strange and random was of course this by my co-editor Stephen Tall.

People who know Graeme Littlejohn have generally been laughing their heads off at the notion that he’s been brought in as Danny Alexander’s Head of Office as some Machiavelli who’s going to win him the leadership. That’s been in a couple of papers now and I’m just wondering who on earth is spreading this stuff. Actually, I do have some ideas, but these are better kept to myself for the time being.

Yesterday, it was the turn of Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael to get the Leadership Speculation Treatment, by Thomas Byrne over at the New Statesman.:

Carmichael has managed to avoid falling prey to the left/right divide emerging more clearly in the party as it gets used to power. “He could be a compromise candidate… post-coalition we need someone to hold the party together. Alistair might be the guy,” one Lib Dem told me. As chief whip for the Lib Dems before becoming Scottish Secretary, he will know where the bodies are buried. Not only did this position make building a relationship with all the MPs in the party compulsory, it also meant he commanded their respect. Don’t mess with Carmichael.

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Why would Alistair Carmichael stop going to a supermarket?

Alistair Carmichael speech Jan 2014Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael was on last night’s Any Questions from Tiverton in Devon, just about as far away as you can get from his Orkney home.

He told the Tory Nadim Zahawi off for raising the idea of capping child benefit at the second child, dismissing it as “not one of your better ideas.”

It was inevitable that there would be a question on food banks and I think that he tackled it quite well and thoughtfully. He said that the key to tackling poverty was to get more people into work and to let those on the lowest wages keep more of what they earn. He added that people who used food banks may not be on benefits but might be suffering from chaotic events in their lives. He added as well that our incomes weren’t as resilient as once they might have been. Because we have such a high level of personal debt, which has to be serviced, we aren’t able to save so we have something to fall back on.

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Another wheel comes off the SNP’s independence bandwagon as EU Commission President says Scotland would find it difficult to join EU

It has not been a good week for Scottish independence campaigners and particularly the SNP. Their primary objective in their quest has been to achieve a break up of the UK without scaring any horses. We’d hardly notice, they said. Everything would go on pretty much as before. We’d still have the Queen and the pound and, of course, an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU automatically on the same terms as the UK currently enjoys.

This week George Osborne, backed by Danny Alexander and Ed Balls, ruled out the SNP’s preferred option of a currency union. Alex …

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Après Nick: which Lib Dem MPs are best-placed to become the next Lib Dem leader?

Today’s Independent has an interesting story speculating on the Lib Dem leadership contest to come if the 2015 election result triggers Nick Clegg’s resignation. It’s one of the features of this parliament – perhaps linked to it being a fixed-term in which we know the dates are all known – that there hasn’t been nearly as much gossip about future leadership bids in any of the three main parties.

Anyway, the Indy story seeks to make up a little for that absence: Nick Clegg’s rivals for the Lib Dems leadership told to rev up. The premise of the article …

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LDVideo: Danny Alexander explains decision to guarantee all UK debt up until Independence

It’s slightly annoying that the announcement by the Treasury pledging to honour all UK debt up till the date of Independence was made on the same day as Alistair Carmichael’s first keynote speech of the New Year, but there was little choice given ill-advised threats last week that an independent Scotland would default on its debts if it didn’t get its way on using the pound as part of a currency union. The markets were spooked. The Treasury had to act.

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