miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Federal Conference Committee has it's feedback and debrief meeting relatively soon. Is there anything you would like your friendly neighbourhood FCC member to feed back about your experience of conference? I'v"e already had a bunch of useful comments left on this entry but I'm sure other people have more to say, and you'd be most welcome.

Was there anything that you found particularly praiseworthy, or that particularly bugged you? under the courtesy cut for non-libdems, who don't care about this stuff )

Thanks, folks!
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
One of the things I have to do at conference is help to plan debates; this necessarily involves looking at a lot of Speakers' Cards. There used to be, in the agenda, an illustrated guide to filling in Speaker's Cards. This hasn't been in there for a little while now, and judging by some of the cards we got submitted, it needs to come back.

In lieu of that, though, I have done my own (somewhat irreverent, and rather long) version under the cut )
I hope to get more cards like that last one, and less like the other seven, by the time next conference rolls around.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Many Lib Dems really love The Leader's Speech. It's the traditional end to conference, and sitting in a hall full of likeminded people while the leader's platitudes wash over you is some people's idea of fun. Equally, many of us dislike it intensely. The social pressure to clap in the right places* is intense, and as a liberal who decries conformity it makes my skin crawl. Also, if the leader says something you don't like and you then walk out, it creates negative publicity.

So there are several sets of lib dems who avoid going to The Leader's Speech. Many just go get on the train before the big rush. I know of one group who have a rather sweet tradition of going to get ice cream while the Leader speaks. The Awkward Squad goes to the pub.

It started when Cleggy was Our Glorious Leader. You may recall that I had one or two policy differences with Cleggy**. One conf, and I can't remember which one, I attended the leader's speech, like a good lib dem, and walked out about half way through utterly furious with something or other he had said, thinking "sod this, I'm off to the pub". When I got there I discovered a dear friend was already there. He explained that as he knew Cleggy was bound to say something really annoying, what he did was go to the pub, download the text of the speech, and work out which point he would have walked out anyway. I thought this was an excellent idea, and have been doing it ever since***, and the group of likeminded curmudgeons doing the same has gradually grown over the years.

Fast forward to yesterday.

There's a bunch of us in the pub. One or two would have walked out at the "single market is ok" bits of the speech. I'd have made it past that, but only a couple of paragraphs, the bit about having achieved equal marriage would have been my breaking point****. Anyway, we were all happily chatting away and discussing things and it was all good.

... The problem was when Vince turned up. Yep, that's right, The Leader turned up to Not The Leader's Speech. Apparently it was some photo call to do with a motion we'd passed earlier in the conference.

I wouldn't have minded, but he didn't even get a round in. Bloody Yorkshirefolk, they're all the same*****.

So, I am now carefully researching pubs in Southport for Spring Conference to find one that's 1, good and 2, less likely to be crashed by the sodding leader. It doesn't half put a crimp in avoiding the leader when he turns up all smiles and handshakes.

ETA: Caron has posted about this on lib dem voice now. Countdown to po-faced condemnation in five... four... three...



*and even to stand and ovate. People who don;t stand and ovate in the "right" places often get glared at, or even tutted at.
**although as a human being I find him perfectly personable and likeable.
***Except for Tim Farron's first speech. Tim knows/knew all about Not The Leader's Speech, and made me promise him that I would go to his first one. I warned him that this would mean actually walking out if he said something walkout-worthy... Thankfully he didn't. But none-the-less I didn't go to any of his others. I'm just not a keynote speech type person.
****See here for the big rant about that one. There was a big chorus of groans about this in the pub - "Oh FFS we have to train ANOTHER leader and his staff not to do this..."
*****I am allowed to say this being Yorkshire myself
miss_s_b: (Default)
I did GLEEEE and it felt like it was a good one and I got a whole four hours' sleep and I chaired the first debate of the morning (link here for those in the UK) and it didn't all go horribly wrong and nobody tried to suspend standing orders on me.

The next thing is Not The Leaders' Speech. Which, the way things are going, will be in the sodding directory by Spring.
miss_s_b: (Default)
Running round like a blue arsed fly.
Have chaired first thing - health spokesperson Q&A with Liz Barker, Joan Walmsley, and Norman Lamb. I think it went quite well. Have also done MOAR aideing, HSLD AGM, and am now preparing for GLEEEEEEE.
I voted on some stuff, but none of it was controversial.

I have also undertaken to do a post (after conf) on How To Fill In a Speaker's Card, with examples. I am looking forward to doing this. Right, must dash...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
I went to the Opening of conference, and was impressed by how quickly El Presdente got it done - because she knew what was coming. The FCC report was passed, as is custom, and then the debate about suspending standing orders happened. There was a counted vote, despite some idiot protesting it wasn't necessary (IMHO on these contentious things you don't want to leave ANY room for doubt) so we know the exact margin, and it was 4-1 in favour of suspension. Obviously I voted in favour of suspending standing orders. I voted to pass the FPC report, and then it was time for an FCC Meeting. Now that we knew what was going to happen in F17, we had to plan it.

Then, because I was going to be stage aide on F6 The Paris Agreement, Zoe (who was chairing it) & I went to plan the session - deciding what order to call speakers, etc. When it came to The Paris Agreement debate itself, as I got on stage I suddenly realised I had parted my hair the wrong side, and every time I looked at the speaker I was presenting a curtain of hair to the audience. Also, if I needed further incentive to lose a little weight, I can only just fit my ample derriere into the chair provided...

I grabbed a (rather manky) toastie, and then lurked in the back of the First timers' Q&A session, mainly to check that the sort of answers I have been giving when newbies ask me stuff had some congruence with official answers. Then there was more debate planning, this time for F10 The Natural Environment. Apparently while I was doing this I missed some barnstorming speeches in the Impact of Brexit on Public Services debate. Still, as I was Hall Aide rather than Stage Aide for the Natural Environment motion, I actually got to vote in the debate - my first policy vote of the conference. I voted in favour of the amendment, then in favour of the motion as amended, as did pretty much everyone else.

Then, while everyone else was at the rally, I had Safeguarding Training - compulsory for FCC members - followed by a quick dash to the pub to obtain food. We dragged a journo along with us and talked to him about trains. I think he secretly quite liked being at conference. Then there was the First timers' Reception -this is another thing I have to do as a committee member. Go and wander round looking approachable and asking people how they are finding conference. I think I was actually helpful to some people - showing them a speaker's card and explaining how to fill it in and things.

Then, for the first time ever, I was inveigled into going to the lib dem Disco. It started with headbanging to rage against the machine and ended with a drunken impromtu rendition of Poisoning Pigeons In The Park on the street outside.

All in all a reasonably successful day. Today is a bit less full on, although I do have ALL THE LGBT+ THINGS tonight... Now have to dash to the venu to get to (you guessed it) an FCC meeting.
miss_s_b: (Default)
Per my last report back from FCC, for various reasons the contentious vote was retaken, I voted the other way, and it went the other way, by 6 votes to 7 this time (there were more of us attending).

So there's going to be a mini debate on the suspension of standing orders, with a maximum of six speakers with a maximum of two minutes' speaking time each. It's going to be chaired by Mary Reid, who is absolutely scrupulous about debate balance and fairness. Whatever happens, I think it's going to be interesting.

Other things that happened included boring stuff like checking everyone knew which debates they were chairing/aideing/hall aideing, people covering stuff that other people could suddenly not do (I'm going to be chairing a spokespeople Q&A session now as well as a debate), a tour of the venue so we know where all the backstage bits you guys don't get to see are, and then chair's training, which is always huge amounts of fun.

For the first time I got one with absolutely no clue as to what the problem I was going to be faced with was, and I think I did OK. SO I'm a tiny bit less nervous about debate chairing...

Now off to have breakfast, and then going to the hall for The Contentious Vote.

If you're in Bournemouth and you spot me, do say hi. My hair is bright purple this year, and today I am wearing this t-shirt.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
My schedule is filling up pretty quickly, but I still have the odd gap, especially at times where there might be food available. I've got my conference schedule all typed up, but it's editable until Friday morning, so if you want to negotiate a gap, let me know :)
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
You may have noticed that the previous two posts were somewhat light on my usual "we debated this motion, and I voted this way on it" details. That's mostly because after I had done the reporting-back-from-FCC bits (which I pledged to do upon my candidacy for FCC - I keep my promises, me. Mostly...) the posts were already stupidly long, but also in part because my lovely friend Andrew has done an excellent summary of the salient points here, and given that I am his evil twin (or he is mine - honestly, basically the only difference between us is that I really like beards and he merely has one) I don't feel the need to reiterate his points.

For the avoidance of doubt, though, here is how I voted:
  • Emergency Motions Ballot: can't actually remember, except that I put the second Scottish referendum motion bottom (we can't mandate our MPs how to vote so it was utterly pointless, AND it's not up to English MPs to tell Scotland what to do anyway IMHO) and the Trump one next to bottom (he's not coming till October. Put a (better drafted) motion in for Autumn conference, when it will be a live and salient issue). The others I was happy to see a debate on.

  • A Rational Approach to Harm Reduction (aka the Sex Work Motion): I voted against the (mildly wrecking) amendment and for the unamended motion

  • Tackling Overcrowding in the Prison System: I voted for the amendment and the motion.

  • Britain in the EU: I went for lunch during this motion as hell would freeze over before anyone voted against it, and during the scheduled lunch break I would be prepping to aide in the health and social care debate.

  • Crisis in health and social care: I voted for the amendment, and then for the motion as amended, from my shiny shiny "seat reserved for FCC Hall Aide" seat.

  • The Biennial Trident Fudge: I Paired with Alisdair and went to the pub since we would have voted exactly oppositely on both the motion and amendment and thus cancelled each other out. The England/Ireland match was nailbiting.

  • Emergency motion: Unaccompanied Child Asylum Seekers: I voted in favour of us taking in more of them.

  • Faith Schools: We had to vote between three options, then for the amendment, then for the motion as amended or not with whichever option we voted for. I'm going to use Andrew's characterisations here: I voted against "YAY faith schools" & for "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them". Then I voted for "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them" and against the horrible and nonsensical fudge which tried to split the difference between the first two. Then I voted for the "ban all faith schools" amendment, but not enough other people did, so it fell. Then I voted for the motion unamended with the option "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them" being the winning option. And I am not ashamed to admit to shedding a tear during Sarah Brown (Cambridge)'s very moving speech. I am glad Julian and Zoe were there to give her hugs when she had finished.

    As you can tell, this was quite a complicated vote. Small FCC note: I am glad Geoff Payne was chairing it. Although I have had my disagreements with him, he has just the right sort of forensic, nitpicky, legal mind for this kind of thing, and is a very clear and non-waffly chair. He's one of only about four people I would trust with such a contentious debate with so many options, and two of them are no longer on FCC.

  • Associated Membership of the EU: I voted in favour.
I think that covers everything. So... after three long posts... Any questions?
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Following on from my previous post on York conference, I thought people might be interested in how we plan the debates and how cards get chosen and things like that.

I also recognise that many of you will NOT be interested in this in the slightest, so am putting it behind a cut )



And then of course, we had Not The Leader's Speech. The tradition of Not The Leader's Speech started when Cleggy was Our Glorious Leader. I went to a couple of his leader's speeches and found them excruciating. In the pub after, a Bad Influence who must perforce remain nameless asked me why I hadn't just walked out and gone to the pub, because that's what he had done. The next conference, I walked out (after 7 minutes, as I recall) and found this same person in the pub. The conference after that... well, we just cut out the middle man and went straight to the pub, downloaded the text of the speech, and worked out at which point we would have walked out had we bothered to go in. At the height of coalition the record occurred: we both agreed we would have walked out in the second sentence of the speech. By that point, though, word had got around somewhat and there were a reasonable number of us in the pub for Not The Leader's Speech.

When Farron was first elected Glorious Leader he was fully aware that this had become a tradition. I made him a personal promise that I'd go to his first leader's speech, but with the proviso that if there was anything I didn't like I would walk out. There wasn't, and I didn't. In fact it was a really really good speech. The thing is, I still don't like leader's speeches (or for that matter, The Rally, which I always feel has a silent Nuremburg in between The and Rally). I don't like sitting there being spoonfed and not participating. I don't like the enforced conformity of the expectation to applaud in the right places (and in some cases standingly ovate). IMHO it's Just Not Liberal. So the only one of Farron's leader's speeches I have been to, and probably ever will go to, remains his first. I no longer feel the need to read the text and work out at which point I would have walked out, because I don't have that sort of fractious relationship with his leadership, but it's still nice to find a good pub, claim a room in it, and have beer and food instead of listening and clapping.

The problem this time was that the group of people going to Not The Leader's Speech has grown to more than 30. And we hadn't booked. Admittedly there were only six of us queueing outside the door waiting for the pub to open, but the rest had DMed or texted me asking for a venue and turned up in short order after. As a former barmaid, I felt really bad about doing this to the pub. I think that next time I will have to at least warn the selected pub in advance... And as Zoe said in the comments to the previous entry, now I am on FCC this is in danger of becoming an officially unofficial event... If it gets any bigger it may have to be in the Fringe guide... You can tell how uncomfortable I am with that idea by the number of ellipsis LOL.

This conference we were biefly joined by a not-Lib-Dem friend and segued off into a discussion about cricket for a while, which was lovely I don't think we terrified her too much.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my officially unofficial reports from conference: next FCC news will probably be from the Shadowy General Purposes And Resources Sub Committee, which I suspect will be quite vague and heavily redacted, so I apologise for that in advance. I will, obviously, explain exactly why I'm having to be vauge and heavily redacted if and when I am.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
The short version of What I Did At Lib Dem Conference is:

Attended lots of FCC meetings and training; co-hosted Glee for the second time; hall-aided my first debate as a member of FCC; "organised" Not The Leader's Speech.

click here for more detail on the first three )

Coming soon: What I Did At Lib Dem Conference part two: structuring an actual debate: this time it's personal PLUS Not The Leader's Speech.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
All the usual things, really. Met up with and broke bread with people I consider family. Voted in lots of debates. Went to fringes. However, there are a couple of things that were out of the ordinary:

- I was very proud that Calderdale's anti-racism motion went through (helped along by a barnstorming speech from the amazing Pauline Pearce).

- I was similarly proud that our amendment to the transport motion went through, and it's now officially lib dem policy to support HS3 connecting the north.

- I made a few speeches, but one that was particularly well-recieved was the one on the social security motion. (if you're a license fee payer, you can watch it here for the next 27 days - I'm at 1 hour 40 minutes and 15 seconds in). Sadly conference still voted the motion through, albeit with amendment one removing the commitment to sanctioning people, but I apologise to all my disabled friends that I wasn't able to get it voted down for the commitment to devolve WCA to local councils (several times this was nonsensically referred to from the stage as "abolishing" WCA - like local councils have the money or inclination to run it any better than ATOS or Maximus).

- I co-hosted Glee for the first time. Which was initially terrifying, but actually... lots of fun. And I really genuinely loved seeing all the journos who gladly sing along with stuff while they are there doing their biennial pretending-to-be-outraged-at-Glee articles the morning after.

Lots of other people from Calderdale made speeches too - Mick Taylor, Ruth Coleman Taylor, Sarah Noble and Alisdair Calder McGregor prominent among them - till it got to the point where in a debate on the final day the chair made a joking reference to a constitutional requirement that someone from Calderdale must speak in every debate for it to be valid. While we didn't win every fight, I think we did pretty well. All in all I think we had a pretty good conference.

And now it's back to the real world...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
This list is not exhaustive, but I:
  • was somewhat disappointed in the room at the Mariott*, especially given the eye-watering price we were paying, but the staff were lovely**. I'd particularly like to single out for praise the breakfast chef*** who cooked my eggs exactly how I liked them, and was chatty and gregarious.

  • Was amused at the fact that the Mariott kept running out of beer, even despite charging six quid a pint for it, and getting many deliveries.

  • enjoyed many debates and fringes, and the fact that our party does EVERYTHING democratically, even if it is complex and confusing to many.

  • LOVED how carefully the chair of each debate explained what was happening for newer members, and hope to see this continue at future conferences.

  • worried about the wisdom of moving from representative democracy to OMOV, but accepted that it was the will of conference that we do so.

  • was incredibly proud of how active my members are in shaping the agenda of conference. We had one full motion, several amendments, and something on the emergency motions ballot. On top of that we spoke in a lot of motions and debates we hadn't been part of the instigation of.

  • enjoyed the hospitality of The Goat and Tricycle and 60 Million Postcards, especially on the food front.

  • Was particularly proud of Sarah Noble, who despite having been the subject of some pretty nasty harassment of late, still had enough spoons to:
    1. cowrite and propose a full motion on trans healthcare
    2. Speak in several other motions
    3. make the second best pig joke of the conference in proposing an amendment
    4. Perform euthanasia on the constitutional amendment of an angry man from Sheffield

  • enjoyed the cascading moments of peak Lib Dem. Firstly, we had a constitutional amendment that was pretty geeky in and of itself. Then there was a request for a reference back. Then the reference back went to a counted vote. THEN someone said "hey, what happens if it's tied?" and we had to go and find the chair of FCC to ask him.

  • Got in the sea, several times. It was nice.

  • went to the best Glee ever. Well done to all involved in arranging it, especially one Mr G Epps, even if the hotel DID cut us off in our prime.

  • saw FAR too many lovely people to mention them all or I'd just be typing a huge long list forever, but particular highlights were Lynne Featherstone at the Lords fringe, Pauline Pearce all over the conference, but especially leading us in You Are My Sunshine at Glee, and Jeanette Sunderland with some sage advice on the final day.
All in all, despite the cost, it was worth it. And I've already booked my hotel for Brighton, never mind York... ;)



* the iron had a frayed flex, which could have electrocuted me, and they had only given us 4 coat hangers for a 5 day stay. I went to phone to report these things and discovered the phone was broken. For the price we were paying I expect the little things to be right.
** with one exception. The tall skinny blonde lad with the Irish accent and the stripey shirt was unfailingly rude and blanked us every time we spoke to him - all the other staff would happily volunteer a good morning, for example, so we got into the habit of saying good morning to the staff too. This guy completely ignored us every time. He was also very shouty at other members of staff, which it's really not good to do in front of guests, even if the member of staff in question deserves shouting at.
*** whose name was variously written Donny, Danny and Dany on the little noticeboard thing each morning.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
So, in case you're wondering what we got up to in Glasgow, here's us speaking from the stage.

Firstly, our lovely PPC for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor spoke several times... )

Todmorden's own Ruth Coleman-Taylor spoke twice ) and also filled a good half of the first Today at Conference )

My lovely treasurer Dr Mick Taylor also spoke twice )

Sarah Noble spoke twice too )

Oh yeah... And I spoke agin gender quotas )
miss_s_b: (Default)
Firstly, Calderdale Local Party has it's policy working group meeting to consider amendments to motions this Saturday. If you have an amendment to a motion that you need support for, email it through to me or Alisdair and we'll put it in front of PWG for consideration for our support.

The other thing that will happen at PWG is that we will consider our OWN amendments. There are several motions that I have an eye on for some minor tweaking (and probably some of the things I am thinking of will be accepted as drafting amendments by the submitters of the motion) but there is ONE motion in particular that I think has the potential to be as controversial as Floella Benjamin's motion on censoring the internet protecting children was.

Heartbreakingly, that is the Crime motion which has had Julian Huppert's name applied to it. After the farrago over DRIP I am less surprised than I might have been, but it's still depressing to see him put his name to something so chock full of sneaky legalese, hidden authoritarianism, and puritanical attitudes. My problems with this motion are so many and varied that I am actually considering doing a full speech against it, rather than trying to amend it. But what do YOU guys think I should do?

Poll #15928 F13 Conference motion on Crime
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 10

In response to the bloody awful Crime motion, Jennie should:

Speak against the motion at conference
7 (70.0%)

try to get lots of amendments submitted
7 (70.0%)

do a line-by-line fisking of the thing on her blog
7 (70.0%)

despair at the damn thing being accepted in it's current form
3 (30.0%)

none of the above
0 (0.0%)



ETA: I should say that I am not against SOME of the proposals in this motion, and that's what makes it so frustrating. I'd really love to vote for some of them. But there's not enough there for me to want to support the motion as a whole.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
As usual conference was BUSY and I am now knackered. In no particular order here are some of the things I did:
  • Voted in lots of debates. LOTS of debates.

  • Spread the news about my workplace among various party people, which will hopefully get us lots more work coming in.

  • Was very proud of various members of my local party who submitted questions and amendments, and spoke from the stage. Special props to my lovely candidate for Calder Valley, who was not only speaking lots, but spoken about (described by Joe Otten as "the next MP for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor, talk about nominative determinism" LOL); my treasurer Dr Taylor, who moved our amendment to the Power to the People motion; and my regional exec rep Sarah, who made her first speech at her first conference on the Digital Bill of Rights. It got to the stage where there was a tangible sense of affectionate weariness in the voice of some of the people chairing the debates when they said "...and now I call X person from Calderdale" LOL.

  • Raised something in the region of £300 for wearing a dress to the posh candidates' reception, which prompted a raised eyebrow from Our Glorious Leader and an accusation of "looking girly" from Farron. Pictorial evidence here and here.

  • Did productive networking with various MPs and MEPs and other folks, including the usual "nice suit Brian!" "nice hair Jennie!" *cheek-kisses* interaction with Brian Paddick, a promise to hunt out my old "Munt not Manure" stickers for supreme BAMF Tessa Munt, a good long chat with presidential hopeful Pauline Pearce the Hackney Heroine, and admiring Jeremy Browne's new beard.

  • Rocked Ilkley Moor at Glee.

  • Reconnected with various fellow members of the Awkward Squad and promised to make t-shirts for autumn (I am SO on this). The only problem being, as Gadsden pointed out, that EVERYBODY is going to want one...

  • As usual, ran into lots of old friends and new, but missed others. Was v pleased to see (albeit briefly) such people as Helen Duffett, Daddies Richard and Alex, Susan Gasczack, Bobbi White, Tim Oliver, etc.etc. And I met the AWESOME Maelo Manning's mum! Was sad to miss Stackee (though she was there) and various people who didn't make it (Jenkins!).

  • And, inevitably, found a good pub which does GREAT food. I think the poor Mason's Arms got a bit overwhelemed by the influx of Lib Dems by the end of Sunday afternoon, but they really were very good. Saturday lunchtime there were just a few of us Awkward Squad types in there; Saturday evening there were a reasonable number more. Sunday lunchtime it was RAMMED with lib Dems. So this is me 1, thanking them for being a great pub and putting up with us all, and 2, recommending them to anyone who is in York in the Castle area.
Today is likely to involve a degree of unpacking and recovery. And answering emails. And then back to work tomorrow...
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miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
If you are a voting rep, please please PLEASE go into the hall for F17 at 17.00 Sunday evening and vote for the reference back. If the reference back fails then please vote against the motion, whether it is amended or not. The motion as submitted is terrifyingly illiberal, technologically illiterate, and will almost certainly be counterproductive. The amendment selected for debate by FFC takes all this badness and adds internet pop-ups to it too. I have no idea what FCC were on when they accepted this motion, nor when they selected the least popular and most senseless amendment from those submitted for debate, but I wish they'd stop taking it.

The motion is supposed to protect children from internet porn. It won't protect children from internet porn, but it WILL make it much more difficult for them to obtain information about sexual health, and also access a whole host of other information on the internet, including this blog. The ONLY way to prevent the harms which internet porn does to children is to EDUCATE both parents and children. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping the magic technology fairy will fix things is a recipe for disaster.

If you're unsure as to how right I am on any of this there are a bunch of people wandering round conference with this flyer. Talk to them.

Thanking you in advance.

About This Blog

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.



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