Tag Archives: environment

Climate change dangers show why Liberal Democrats are needed in government

Next week the fate of the world is going to be decided. That is a statement that we have rarely, if ever, been able to say with any certainty. But the consequences of another year, five years or decade without a global climate change agreement in the form of a legally binding treaty on all major global polluters could see the progress of degradation accelerate to a point where any further action would be mostly damage control. That is the solemn mandate of the Paris Cop21 Climate Conference, co-operate or face consequences, consequences that will be more tangible than ever before.

As global temperature rise being successfully held at 2 degrees Celsius looks more and more improbable, and unprecedented ice-cap melt (like that of Greenland in 2012) continues to stun Arctic communities and swell the global oceans, the level of climate disruption is now undeniably enormous. Even the kind of serious concerted action we all hope for in Paris will not be enough for those who are already set to face the horrors of the degree of environmental disruption we have now made inevitable. The most striking case of all? The chain of Pacific islands that form the state of Kiribati. Climate scientists have suggested that by 2100, or even earlier, rising sea levels will result in the full submersion of the islands.

This will be a decisive moment in human history. At this point our human capacity for destruction will have been fully realised, we will have effectively destroyed an entire nation. Global leaders in Paris who think that at their feet is placed an impossible and sobering task should be reminded of just how sobering a task lies at the feet of Anote Tong, Kiribati’s President, who every year must plan for the future awaiting a people who will lose the very land they call home to the sea, on account of our actions.

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Tim Farron and a wonderful song

This excerpt is from Tim Farron’s main speech to the Bournemouth conference:

Since May, the Government has threatened the human rights act, demonised refugees, penalised working families, abandoned green energy. You know, if ever you doubted the effectiveness of the Liberal Democrats in Government just look at what’s happening without us. In the words of Joni Mitchell

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone “

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The Independent View: Tim Farron’s election as leader provides hope that the party will embrace and enhance the green roots held dear by members and activists.

Congratulations to Tim Farron, an MP who has long championed environmental causes. His voting record, especially during the coalition years, was consistently green. In 2013 Farron was one of 16 Lib Dems to rebel and back a 2030 decarbonisation target. How different the energy politics landscape would look had more Lib Dem MPs (and later peers) joined him and ensured there was now a decarb target in the statute books to provide long term certainty for investors in the face of growing short term uncertainty.*

But that was then. With Tim Farron at the helm we look forward to the party adopting stronger green positions, such as Farron’s repeated pledge to oppose fracking. Most importantly – and in a move that puts clear water between him and Andy Burnham, the leading candidate for the Labour leadership – Farron’s opposition is on the grounds that burning shale gas is incompatible with tackling climate change:

Shale gas will only have a future in the UK if we abandon, or significantly scale back, our climate targets – and that’s something that I hope every Liberal Democrat would oppose

This is the sort of clear leadership sorely needed in the fight against climate change and the pressing need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Only the Greens and Plaid Cymru have made so clear the climate change rationale for opposing fracking (in addition to the more widely accepted risks to communities’ air, water and peace).

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LibLink: If I’m Lib Dem leader, we’ll oppose fracking

Tim Farron has been writing for Politics.co.uk about his desire to see the party change its policy on fracking. The headline is entirely misleading, because what he actually does is show respect to the party’s processes by saying he’ll ask the Federal Policy Committee and Conference to reconsider the issue. But why?

The UK should not be pursuing another fossil fuel source, when there is so much potential for renewable generation from tidal and hydro that is still untapped. I would like the party, through the federal policy committee and the conference, to think again about our existing policy on fracking.

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Carmichael and Davey blast Tories’ withdrawal of subsidies for onshore wind

A few wind turbinesWe know that during the coalition years the Liberal Democrats ensured subsidies for onshore wind. The Guardian managed to give precisely 2 and a  bit lines at the bottom of their report to Ed Davey. He was the Energy and Climate Change Secretary who fought tooth and nail to protect renewables, but there’s no mention of that. Ed is quoted as saying:

Anti-wind power Tories will put up electricity bills, cut green jobs and reduce investment.

Alistair Carmichael also took the Tories to task for what he called a “lamentable sop to the Tory right.”

This is full-throttle Tory energy policy.

Their decision to end the renewables obligation for onshore wind is a backwards step for the UK’s energy mix.

It is a lamentable sop to the Tory right-wing who would sooner have us concede the battle on climate change than commit properly to renewables. This blinkered and outdated view of the world is bad news for the environment, but it is also bad news for jobs and investment.

In coalition government Liberal Democrats blocked these madcap Tory ideas. In opposition, we will lead the campaign against them.


photo by: vaxomatic
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Opinion: Water of Life

Today many Christians are celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus, whether you view him as historical figure, prophet or messiah, used many images in his teaching. One was water.

John 4:13-14 talks of Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria at the well, and Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give them will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give them will become a spring of water in them. It will flow up into eternal life.”

Water is a precious resource. Just this week there was news of California entering the fourth year of drought. Governor Jerry Brown has introduced strict conservation measures to reduce water usage by 25%. California produces a third of the fresh vegetables consumed by Americans, and prices in shops across the country are already reflecting the drought.

Global warming has brought this on. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains which supplies the water California needs is at a record low. The water California needs for households, crops and industry is not available. Sacrifices will have to be made.

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Cute seals for Earth Hour Day – and some serious points about Liberal Democrat policy

On the day Earth Hour takes place, the Liberal Democrats have released a video with Nick Clegg and Julia Goldsworthy at a Cornish seal sanctuary. They highlight the nature bill that’s part of our 5 green laws in the manifesto. I know this is childish but every time I see that headline, I think of a cartoon David Laws, greened up like Elphaba in Wicked. The party’s video communications are really good at the moment. Enjoy this one.

Our plans for a Nature Bill include removing exemptions from all plastic bag charges to safeguard our environment and protect wildlife.

Posted by Liberal Democrats on Saturday, 28 March 2015

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Independent on Sunday praises Nick Clegg and Ed Davey for “keeping the low carbon show on the road”

Davey Windmills - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAn Independent on Sunday editorial today acknowledges the contribution made by the Liberal Democrats to furthering the green agenda while in government. They give Nick Clegg and Ed Davey the credit for driving it forward in the face of opposition from our coalition partners, who come in for some criticism:

The IoS has been disappointed with the Conservatives’ record on the environment. We were prepared to give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt when he put a windmill on his roof and when he proclaimed his intention that the coalition would be the greenest government ever, but if Mr Davey is now able to make that qualified claim, it is despite Mr Cameron, not because of him.

The turning point was George Osborne’s “slowest ship in the convoy” speech to the Tory party conference in 2011, when he said Britain would go along with EU plans for green energy but would not be a leader.

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Catherine Bearder writes… 100 days to stop the Tories or Labour neglecting the environment

The countdown starts today. Just 100 days left to ensure that any future government has a strong Liberal voice in it. That means a strong voice for social justice and economic responsibility, ensuring that we finish the recovery and do so fairly. But it also means a voice that will continue to stand up for a radical approach on issues like drugs policy, indiscriminate snooping and constitutional reform. Crucial issues, but ones that both Conservatives and Labour would happily sweep under the carpet and forget about altogether if they were given the chance.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Without the Lib Dems, there would be nothing to stop the Tories neglecting the environment

Tim Farron has been writing for the New Statesman about what the Liberal Democrats have done, despite the Tories, to protect our environment.

He says we can look to Europe to see the sorts of things they would be doing without us to propel them with some force towards the door marked “green”.

 But we’ve come a long way since the days of trips to the Arctic and hugging huskies. Cameron now openly talks about “getting rid of green crap,” while Tory minister Michael Fallon has said the Tories would stop the construction of onshore wind farms if they win in 2015. As we near the general election, the Conservatives are rapidly abandoning any pretence that they care about the green agenda.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the European Parliament, where the Tories are completely unrestricted by the constraints of coalition government. Time and again Conservative MEPs have shown their true colours when it comes to EU environmental measures, and they are definitely not green. They voteddown EU measures to restrict the destructive practice of deep-sea fishing. They’ve opposed efforts to reduce plastic bag use and tackle the scourge of plastic waste in our oceans. And they’ve repeatedly voted against efforts to strengthen the EU’s carbon emissions trading scheme, Europe’s landmark policy for fighting climate change.

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Tim Farron MP writes…Green Climate Fund shows this government is leading the world

We often forget to say thank you, because we’re straight on to the next thing. But today, I want to say thank you to everyone – from  our members, activists, staff, councillors, MPs and Peers to Ed Davey for the success we’ve seen as a party on the Green Climate Fund. Even if climate change doesn’t get your heart racing, if you want evidence that the Lib Dems in the Coalition are alive and kicking – look no further. Cameron’s “green crap” attitude hasn’t stopped us leading the world on climate change. We’ve got a lot more to do – but this is good news that should give us confidence.

Set up five years ago at the Copenhagen climate conference, the Green Climate Fund is designed – over time – to replace the spaghetti system of existing funds, and become the main channel for finance to help developing countries reduce emissions and protect themselves from dangerous climate change. It was one of the outcomes which saved the Copenhagen climate conference from complete failure.

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Ed Davey MP writes….The politics of renewables

Yesterday I was in Manchester speaking at the RenewableUK Annual Conference, and then on to see a fascinating energy efficiency project led by students in Parrs Wood School in John Leech’s constituency.

My Manchester speech focused on the politics of renewables – both the good news and the bad.

The good news is that renewables investment is in great shape. Since 2010, an average £7 billion a year has been invested – more than double that under Labour’s last term in office.  We are now seen as No.1 in the world for attracting investment in offshore wind, wave and tidal.

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Lord Brian Paddick writes… Is it reasonable to ban runway expansion across the UK?

Runway photo by Today is a good dayThis Conference we will be debating our Pre-Manifesto.  Of the huge number of policy proposals there is one likely to incite a great deal of considered debate within the Party – the commitment to no net increase in runways across the UK.  The pre-manifesto bans any expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick and it prohibits a new airport in the Thames Estuary.  Is this a reasonable position to take?

I am a loyal Liberal Democrat and like most of us, I am conscious of the need to protect our environment.  I don’t have a car.  My world is my Oyster Card and unless I’m late for a very important date, I take the bus, train or tube everywhere.

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The Independent View: Bridging the gap between rhetoric and reality before May 2015

A few weeks ago the Liberal Democrats announced the five green laws they would introduce if they remain in Government after May 2015.  The detail from their pre-manifesto will be debated at Conference this week. As a staunch greenie, is it always nice to see a party putting the environment at the centre of their party’s pledges. At the last election, Friends of the Earth praised the Liberal Democrats for having the greenest manifesto of the three main parties (pipped to the top spot by the Greens).

But after nearly one term in office, there is now a big question over the party’s green credibility.  So there are three key questions on their green laws that the Liberal Democrats need to provide the right answers to – pronto.

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The Independent View: Will Liberal Democrats remain the greenest party?

Since 2010 it has been clear that energy and the environment are policy areas where the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have distinct views and voices within the coalition. The recent reshuffle of blue ministers, removing one of the Tories’ few true renewable energy supporters in Greg Barker, gave further evidence of this differentiation.

Now, as we look to the next five years, it is time for the parties to be clear on their commitment to a greener economy. The major renewable energy trade associations – representing wind, solar, biogas, hydropower and more – have launched a series of manifesto tests which will determine whether the parties are committed to decarbonising our energy system.

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Baroness Kate Parminter writes….5p charge on “icons of throwaway society is a victory for the environment”

Welcome to Portreath.It’s great to see the Queens Speech include a commitment to reduce the use of plastic bag carriers to help protect the environment.  It’s an issue I’ve campaigned on since I came to the Lords in 2010.

We used 7 billion single use carrier bags in UK supermarkets in 2012.  Plastic bags are highly visible litter on our streets and in our countryside; pose a threat to wildlife and their disposal contributes to our green house gas (GHG) emissions, taking 500 to 1,000 years to degrade.

Following the introduction of a …

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Phil Bennion MEP wins Clean Air award

Phil Bennion MEP at the European Parliament

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion has won an award for his work in improving air quality in cities across the UK, after a successful campaign to cut deadly pollution including from diesel-powered vehicles.

Phil  was given the “Clean Air in Cities Award” by campaigning group Clean Air in London after he successfully campaigned to ensure tailpipe exhaust checks are included in MOT tests under EU law. This will help detect harmful emissions and ensure that newer diesel-powered vehicles remain fitted with exhaust filters that prevent deadly particulate pollution being released into the air.

Around a quarter of pollution in the atmosphere in the UK comes from diesel engines, contributing to an estimated 7,000 of the 29,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution each year.

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Ros Scott speaks out against food waste

Food waste 215 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year.

122 million tonnes wasted in the industrialised world (which makes the British contribution of an eye-wateringly high proportion).

The latter figure is equal to the entire food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s a far cry from the days when we were growing up. Any waste at all horrified my Granny. She went to the shops every day and bought what she needed for that day and no more. Most of what she bought was relatively locally produced, unprocessed and fresh.

photo by: Nick Saltmarsh
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Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: Tell me why you’re green

This week, Nick’s letter is about his speech to the Green Alliance. It summarises what he said, but doesn’ t link to it. Just as well we put it in full here, then. The aim is to drive people to shiny new “Why I am Green” Nationbuilder site. 1329 people have already given their reasons. He’s losing no opportunity to explain why Ed Miliband’s energy price freeze just doesn’t cut it. He’s modified the language a bit, putting in a bit more detail, but is still describing it as the con that it is.

libdem letter from nick clegg

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In full: Nick Clegg’s speech to the Green Alliance

Nick Clegg made an important speech to the Green Alliance this morning, making the case that what seemed like a cross-party consensus on the issue of climate change has now crumbled, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the only major party still committed to preventing the catastrophic warming of the planet:

Labour have undermined what was their one and only green pledge – a decarbonisation target – with a policy that would damage the very industry needed to deliver it. They’re abandoning the environment to score a few populist points. It’s utterly Janus-faced.

Senior members of the Conservative party now openly attack environmental policies as anti-growth, as well as publically question the threat of climate change.

And yet all of us sat to hear Sir Mark Walport, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, when he came last month and explained to the Government that the recent IPCC report – which made clear the threats posed by man-made climate change – was the most exhaustive, authoritative, peer reviewed report on climate change ever published. How much more hard science is needed to convince the climate change deniers they’ve got it wrong?

The speech also touched on some other, less well-publicised, areas within environmental policy:

In our natural environment, we’ve introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development, and maintained strong protections for the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Something many of the people in this room were involved in.

We’re on track to plant a million more trees by the end of the parliament – the majority in the most deprived and least green areas.

After a comprehensive review, we plan to launch a new National Pollinator strategy next spring to protect the country’s bees and many other pollinating insects.

We’re reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill and we’re investing in cleaning up England’s rivers, lakes and waterways.

We’ve promoted animal welfare, including ending the practice of keeping laying hens in tiny battery cages and, for the first time, implementing welfare standards for game-birds. We are also strongly committed to working with our international partners to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, and in a few months we’ll be hosting a major international conference in London to agree the action that is needed.

We’re seeing encouraging progress on biodiversity – this year’s biodiversity assessment report shows, for example, more land and sea protected and fish stocks better managed.

We have also now implemented the Marine and Coastal Access Act, which seeks to improve the management and protection of our marine environment and increase public access to our coastal paths: so more people can access the beauty of Britain’s landscape, and we’re going to be saying more about marine conservation shortly.

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The European Election – Campaigning on the Issues

We are now just 30 weeks away from the next round of local elections. Crucially, these have been arranged to coincide with the EU-wide election for the European Parliament. Obviously who gets what seats in Brussels and Strasbourg seems far more removed from our ordinary lives than the running of the local Council, but it is still hugely important.

As a candidate in the European Election, I am very keen that we do not end up wasting time talking about Brussels obscurities. Instead, those of us selected to stand for the European Parliament are trying to talk …

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Take a good coalition environmental move and Owen Paterson will undermine it

Paterson in Carrier BagPutting an acknowledged environmental sceptic in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was always going to be bad news. Shropshire MP Owen Paterson’s sympathies lie with industrial scale farming and fracked landscapes. He hates windfarms and is a global warming sceptic. Now he’s trying to restrict the scope of the carrier bag charge.

It’s no surprise then that he is reluctant to introduce a charge on supermarket carrier bags. Previously, Defra sat on its heels. Its ministers claimed it needed better evidence about the impact of a charge. That’s an ironic position to take given that Defra has launched a badger cull against the scientific evidence of the Krebs trails.

It is true that under the former Labour government, Defra became obsessed with carbon emissions at the expense of the contribution of the environment to wellbeing and biodiversity – as did much of the environmental movement. It fretted that a one use paper bag used more carbon than a well-used plastic bag. Everyone but CPRE and few other charities ignored the impact of plastic bags on landfill, the landscape, our streets and the seas.

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The Independent View: Conference 2013: Lib Dems must stand up for the environment

For a fleeting moment in May 2010 there was genuine optimism that the environment might be put at the heart of Britain’s political agenda.

With a coalition of Liberal Democrats, praised by many, including Friends of the Earth, for their manifesto’s prioritisation of environmental issues, joining forces with a ‘vote blue, go green’ Tory party, fresh from championing the Climate Change Act, it looked as if yellow and blue really could produce green.

But three and a half years later Cameron’s pledge to lead the “greenest Government ever” now seems little more than a cynical sound bite.

Perhaps less expected is the …

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Ed Davey MP writes…Green jobs, cleaner energy, keeping the lights on and bills down

The Energy Bill returns to the House of Commons tomorrow. It’s a crucial Bill that will help deliver all of the above, but clearly one issue – the 2030 decarbonisation target for the power sector – has been the focus of much attention over the last few months. Let’s be clear, such a target wasn’t mentioned in any party’s manifesto or the Coalition Agreement, or in the draft Bill when I became Secretary of State. But because we won the argument in Government, and the Bill now provides for a target, Britain will be the first country in the world …

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Andrew George MP writes…Liberal Democrats must defend green promise

It’s crunch time for parties across the political spectrum: will parliamentarians do the right thing for our climate and the UK economy or will they let the sceptics drive investors overseas?

The Energy Bill returns to the Commons next week, just as the Conservatives are retreating to their traditional political stomping grounds in the face of competition from the right. Writing in Lib Dem Voice last month, Nick Clegg noted that: “Compassionate conservatism has been sidelined…the blue team used to claim to have gone green, yet have now publicly denounced the importance of environmental protections”. It’s up to the Liberal Democrats to …

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Opinion: Is it too much to ask that our MPs understand the health impact of air pollution?

The events of last week in Woolwich totally dominated the media, and quite rightly so. However there was an opinion poll that was published last week that also deserves some attention.

In April Dods interviewed 101 Members of Parliament – that is almost one in six of them – about their attitudes towards air pollution as a contribution to premature deaths.  The MPs interviewed were broadly representative of Parliament, with 47 Conservative MPs taking part, along with 40 Labour MPs, 9 Liberal Democrat MPs and 5 MPs from other parties.

Why is this poll so significant?

The simple answer is that …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Local television

Last week was an important one for local news coverage in the Borders as the broadcasting regulator OFCOM asked for views on its proposals to change the way local television news is provided here.

After years of shared news with Tyne Tees, they are now looking at options to return things close to the way they were in 2009. That would mean more coverage of the south of Scotland and particularly our part of it …

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The Independent View: Liberal Democrats – nature needs you!

A majestic soaring eagle. The lightning flash of a kingfisher. Feeding the ducks.

For most people, wildlife ignites their first sparks of interest in environmental issues, yet it is currently conspicuously absent from the political discourse. We hear a lot about sustainability and climate change, but if this Government is to realise its ambitions to be “the Greenest Government ever” it has to tackle biodiversity conservation as well.

We desperately need action: the UK has missed its commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2010; 42% of our most important habitats and …

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Chris Davies MEP writes: A view from the North (2/3)

You can read the first instalment of Chris Davies’s View from the North here.

It will some as no surprise to members in the North West that I asked them some questions on issues relating to the environment and reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

I have led on environmental issues for the pan-European Liberal group in the Parliament since 1999, but since being re-elected in 2009 I have made sustainable reform of the CFP my biggest policy priority.

I asked whether members agreed with the majority of the world’s scientists that the climate is changing. 88% agreed and only …

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Simon Hughes: Keeping the green agenda on track

An email from Simon Hughes to party members and supporters yesterday read…

As the Guardian reports today, the Liberal Democrats have stopped George Osborne giving in to his backbenchers and kept the Coalition’s green agenda on track.

Liberal Democrats are determined to make the Coalition Government the greenest ever and prove that going green can be good for business and jobs.

Today’s announcement of subsidy levels for renewable energies gives investors the long term stability they need and should see £20-25bn invested by 2017.

It will help create new green jobs and keep us on track to meet our ambitious climate change targets.

Liberal Democrats …

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    Manfarang, thanks also. I suggest that politics has never been so interesting, relevant and open. It should be compulsory in schools along with first aid,...
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