The Stan Laurel of Scottish politics

Deep in a dark cave, eroded away over the millennia, covered by thousands of years of lime deposits, are the very faintest traces of some of the oldest art work ever created, scratched into the rock by early humans. Those enigmatic engravings have a higher profile, are more accessible, and are more relevant to modern society than anything that ever comes out of the mouth of Labour’s shadow Scotland Secretary. Say the name Lesley Laird to your average punter and ask who she is, and at best you’ll get a vague look and a shrugged shoulders suggestion that she might possibly be a minor character in a soap opera. And that would be true.

To give her credit, Lesley Laird has realised one notable political achievement, and it’s something that is pretty considerable. It’s an incredible attainment that most neutral observers would not have thought possible, but Lesley has managed it. Go Lesley! No really, just go. The Shadow Scotland Secretary is even less effective and has less of a presence as a voice of Scotland in Westminster than Fluffy Mundell. Lesley’s voice for Scotland is an acoustic miracle, bats can’t detect it.

It’s quite remarkable that even those of us who follow Scottish politics obsessively hardly know who she is. Could you recognise her from a photie? I rest my case. That means either that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party doesn’t prioritise Scotland, or that Lesley is even less useful and more inept than a man who is widely likened to a stuffed toy. Or both, because those two options are not mutually exclusive. Her great contribution to the branch meeting of the Labour party’s Scottish franchise was to call for the Scottish Government and the British Government to release information that they’d already released. This doesn’t inspire confidence that she’s actually paying attention.

Lesley wasn’t the only remarkable politician of note to attend the conference. This was Richard Leonard’s first gig as branch office manager, and Richard is himself a remarkable man with a singular talent. Unfortunately that talent is that he doesn’t just make Iain Gray seem lively, witty, charismatic and charming, he also makes James Kelly seem lively, witty, charismatic and charming. Listening to Richard Leonard is the aural equivalent of mogadon, only without the attention to detail, finesse, and incisiveness that comes from being out of your tree on major tranquillisers. However because Richard is originally from England, criticising him is, at least in Richard’s book, anti-English racism and it’s wrong.

It’s safe to say that despite the expectations of the British nationalists of a Westminster parliamentary road to socialism persuasion, Labour’s Scottish branch office conference didn’t exactly set the heather alight, even though Scottish Labour peer Mike Watson, Baron of Invergowrie, is Jeremy Corbyn’s education spokesperson in the Lords and he’s an actual arsonist. That’s not to say that there was no fire at the conference, it’s just it was of the wrong sort. It started badly when the party confused its founder Keir Hardie with Oliver Hardy, which is an easy mistake to make when your branch manager at Furst Meenister’s Questions is difficult to distinguish from Stan Laurel. And it’s a very fine mess that you’ve got your party into, Richard.

There was plenty of fire and fury. It was mostly directed at the only people in politics that your average Labour party in Scotland politician hates more than the SNP. That’s other Labour politicians. The blue, or rather red, touchpaper setting much of it off was the Jezza himself. Admittedly the venue wasn’t exactly stowed to the rafters, more people have turned up at pro-indy events to see my dug than showed up to listen to Jeremy Corbyn in Dundee, and that’s not just because the dug is considerably more photogenic. If Richard Leonard is the Stan Laurel of Scottish politics, Jezza was channelling another meme from the 1930s, this time xenophobia and hatred of immigrants. According to Jeremy, immigration drives down wages and causes lower living standards and that’s why he’s against freedom of movement. It might have been dressed up in the language of socialism, but it was the exact same argument as you hear from Ukip. You can put a red dress on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

Ian Davidson and Kezia Dugdale both took to a fringe meeting to describe Jezza’s speech as the kind of thing that Nigel Farage would have been pleased with. Ian also had an argument with MEP Catherine Stihler with whom he had only recently launched a party group pressing for UK membership of the single market after Brexit after Ian accused her of publishing misleading information. Labour Hame editor Duncan Wossisname had a fall out on social media with MP Danielle Rowley after Danielle apparently told him that he was welcome to leave the party if he didn’t like the Jezzacult. Meanwhile Jeremy and his followers were accused of blocking debate and trying to shut down their critics within the party. There are fewer fall outs and fights on Big Brother. The periods of peace and internal agreement within the Labour party in Scotland are shorter in duration than the length of time that a Ukip party leader holds office, and that was previously recognised as the shortest measurable unit of political time.

Labour remains hopelessly divided over Brexit. The leadership is trying to ram through a hard Brexit policy which most party members and supporters don’t support, one which is particularly lacking in support in Scotland. Scotland needs migration, and most of us – especially those of us who are ourselves descended from migrants, from Ireland, or Poland, or indeed England – know that our families have heard the kind of language used by Jeremy Corbyn before, and it was language that was used to justify attacks and discrimination against us. Migrants benefit our economy and our society. They bring much needed skills and experience. They help to create a society that’s open to the world and they enrich us with their presence. Labour under Corbyn is betraying the principles of Keir Hardie. No wonder that they couldn’t even spell his name properly, they’ve lost all sight of what he stood for. Labour in Scotland is no longer the party of Hardie. It’s the party of Stan Laurel that’s got itself into a fine mess.


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55 comments on “The Stan Laurel of Scottish politics

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug The Stan Laurel of Scottish politics Deep in a dark cave, eroded away over the millennia, covered by thousands of years of […]

  2. Graham says:

    Scottish Labour comes more and more to resemble the end of Reservoir Dogs (and City on Fire, the Chinese film that RD was nicked wholesale from), with everybody pointing guns at each other and shooting each other. It’s just annoying now, it’s so tragic and disgusting.

  3. Andy Anderson says:

    They are still oh so LOST. No direction at all.

    WM Labour have not got a clue which is obvious if you listen to Richard at Holyrood. They will only make progress if they support Scotland and stop supporting themselves in such a destructive way. In Scotland we need parties that are funded and based here. Bin London, and lets work together. Sounds daft I know but it could happen if a few people got going. Pity this will not happen until independence.

    Good piece Paul, witty as well.

  4. Paul, you get twice for your dollar when I read out your excoriating invective on Blis to my darling wi-fi free wifie and the two of us deck ourselves laughing. Apart, that is, from the last para which brings us back to the sad and horrible reality, although the final “Stan Laurel” Party takes the proverbial dog-biscuit!! Love your writing. Keep up the brilliant work – we sorely need it!

  5. Patience is a Virtue says:

    Kezia should, and it seems does, now realise that Jeremy has no understanding of Scotland or its aspirations and as for his opinions as expressed at the Conference … well he will surely pay the the price in Scotland and elsewhere.

    It would perhaps be unlikely and more than could be expected for Kezia to ‘cross the floor’ and support / join the SNP but e.g declaring herself an ‘Independent’ (at least independent of such doctrine) would at least be honorable and in due course perhaps even align herself more closely with the aspirations of the Yes movement ?

    Lesley Laird is about as memorable as say Dave Anderson, MP for Blaydon… you might expect perhaps to become ‘Secretary of State for Scotland’ if you were say one of 56 MPs elected of the same Party in Scotland out of a total possible of 59 in Scotland… but this is Scotland and seems totally fair !! if you elect just 1 Labour MP you get to be Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and of course if you elect 1 Conservative MP you get to be Secretary of State.for Scotland … seems like a position we can, going forward, do without, …unless of course you feel the present incumbents are doing a good job representing Scotland at the negotiating table… assuming they are even invited, or present.

  6. tintochiel says:

    Och, Paul, you have a terrible habit of hitting the nail on the head.

    Tricky Dickie as Stan Laurel? There is certainly a similarity. Favourite example of Stan’s stupidity follows:

    *Phone rings*

    Stan: Hello.
    Operator: It’s a long distance from Atlanta, Georgia.
    Stan: It certainly is.

    *Puts receiver back on hook*

    How can ANYONE vote for these frauds?

  7. bedelsten says:

    Yes, indeed. All of the above.

    During the last general election, a Labour MP, Harriet Harmen I think, told a reporter something about the party’s attitude to the electorate and, from that, one can deduce by inference that the Labour party does not want to represent the unemployed, unsalaried carers, unsalaried single parents, the one staying at home and looking after the kids, the retired, the elderly, the self-employed, EU nationals, furriners generally and, probably, employers. It is a rather narrow partisan focus based on grievance politics.

    Occasionally, it works, and then Labour party gets buggins turn as the fat controller. However, in Scotland, politics has moved on. After the 2014 referendum Scotland as a nation has become much, much more politically aware, the brightest and more motivated have moved away from supporting the traditional parties who are left with a talentless bunch of hangers on. The meeja, however, will not acknowledge this without losing what little respect they have.

    As an indication of how useless the talentless mainstream parties and meeja are consider that, on Friday 9 March, from the Irish Times, Donald Tusk’s speech in Ireland contained,

    “My response would be: Ireland first,” he said. “While we must respect [the UK’s] position, we also expect the UK to propose a specific and realistic solution to avoid a hard border. As long as the UK doesn’t present such a solution, it is very difficult to imagine substantive progress in the Brexit negotiations. If, in London, someone assumes that the negotiations will deal with other issues first, before moving to the Irish issue, my response would be: Ireland first.”

    In other words, no more negotiations until the Irish question (2018) is solved, but solving it is not something the UK government can do without losing the support of the DUP or some backbenchers or both. Presented with such an open goal opportunity, a competent Labour party could hardly fail. This one? Choose your own metaphor to describe sporting incompetence. What a useless bunch.

  8. Cubby says:

    Richard Leonard = Total Plonker

  9. Joe. says:

    If ever one wants to see why Scotland should be independent.it is as clear as the nose on your face.just watch Scottish questions from Westminster last week on bbc it is there for all to see.Bercow.a more pompous male if ever there was one.along with Tory.and labour mps.showing a total disrespect towards SNP.mps when they ask a question.and as for mundell.dear.dear.dear.that is a total lapdog for the Tory party in Scotland.that item is a waste of space as far as Scotland is concerned.it is beyond belief how anyone with any sence would vote for that.he is a total embarrassment.as some would say he is no good to man nor beast.as much good as a chocolate fireguard.but if you are a true blue unionist Tory.you are going to vote for whoever stands for the tory party please let’s get out of this long sell by date.discredited union that shows no respect what so ever towards Scotland and its people.we deserve much much better.roll on independence.

  10. Isn’t Lesley Laird Superman’s girlfriend, or am I thinking of the another comic?
    Thanks for listening to all this guff, Paul, and keeping us up to speed on The Red Revolution..
    Just in from the rubadubdub, full of the joys of dark stout.
    Plus….

  11. chicmac says:

    Arguably Stan Laurel has more connection with Scotland since he went to the same school in Rutherglen as my wife. In the interests of self-preservation, I add, not at the same time, of course.

  12. Les Wilson says:

    Stan Laurel? I prefer to think of Richard Leonard more like Kenneth Williams in the carry on series.
    He looks like him, and even talks like him.
    However, a great piece Paul, and you have a gift with words, something I said to you way back when you first came on the scene, articles like this reaffirm that I was right then, and I am still right now. Kudos

  13. smac1314 says:

    Laurel was a great comic, the Labour party are just tragic. If Corbyn wants to look for someone to blame for low wages he need look no further than Gordon Brown. His working tax credits were the subsidy companies needed to allow wages to stagnate. If he had insisted on setting the minimum wage as a living wage then we would not be in the position we are now on the wages front. Corbyn’s uninformed dog-whistle speech must have had the Tories grinning from ear to ear. They will get their hard Brexit with no opposition with full power to trounce workers rights, damage the environment and sell off the NHS. I can only hope that Scotland has freed herself from the madness.

    • Roy Moore says:

      Replying to smac1314.
      That’s about the most sensible comment on here. Gets to the heart of Brexit. Which is & always has been a right wing deregulation agenda. It’s all very well poking fun at the likes of Mundell & Leonard. We can all do that. What is needed from this blog & others is more focus on the positive case for independence. And a recogntion that independence is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The day this country is independent will be the first day of a long and tough road for all. We will, however, never get there by simply chucking dubious metaphors at the the opposition.

  14. Brian Fleming says:

    Paul, dud you just call the sainted Jezza a pig? You must be an anti-English racist, n’est ce pas?

  15. AAD says:

    While I agree with all of the above I must sound a note of caution. What does Labour want most? To form the government of the UK in Westminster. The Scottish Parliament can be sidelined – just look at the quality of their MSPs. They are lobby fodder.

    The SNP have several significant marginal seats in Westminster. Labour will do its utmost to capture these seats. Labour are already making their presence felt in my own constituency with Street Stalls (weather permitting), newsletters, etc, and I expect to see that increase in the coming months. I think they will focus attention on ‘winnable’ seats.

    So, they may have a leader in London who knows, cares or understands nothing about Scotland and its needs, but he is being presented as an figure designed to take back previous Labour voters. It would need relatively few people to change their minds to have a change of MP in many constituencies.

    The SNP needs to develop methods of communication which can be used to counter Labour’s arguments and, yes, outright lies. They need to be shown to be Tory Lite as far as Scotland is concerned. This needs action from SNP HQ to become more inclusive and less authoritarian in its organisation. We are no longer a Party of a few thousand; we have around 100,000 members and many more active and inactive supporters. The majority of people won’t go to the party to become active; the Party needs to go to its members.

    The sight of SNP MPs being slapped down and treated with disrespect in Westminster is galling. Can the SNP not develop a strategy to counter this in Westminster? Why do we have to obey their rules? We don’t belong to their club and we don’t want to; we are forced to belong.

    I agree with all the points in the article; but we must guard against complacency.

  16. Andy in Germany says:

    Er… Labour does realise that there are about 1.5 million British migrants in the EU, right? and that we can hear his speeches as well?

  17. Robert Graham says:

    Just watching the Yorkshire shop steward interviewed by Brewer of the BBC in Scotland ,
    Honesty anyone have any idea what he was on about on anything ? . He says a labour Scottish government would take all the current PFI contracts in house by negotiation with the contract holders , brewer asked How ? , And if they don’t want to negotiate the very profitable deals that Labour pushed as the only game in town how could labour make them give up these deals ,
    A blank look and a blustering well I have found most people will negotiate ,
    Oh really ffs is he actually on the same planet , He seems to believe everything he wants will just fall into place because he wants it , ( Edinburgh Trams anyone )
    This Clown being appointed the leader of Labour in Scotland says more about the shambles Labour are currently in .

    • Marconatrix says:

      At least Scotland has a viable alternative that’s not the Tories. Puir wee England, their folk have nowhere nice to turn, so may well turn nasty for want of any other option 😦

    • Andy Anderson says:

      He does sound dim right enough.

      I know three people who voted Leave. When you talk about very real risks and dangers with them you get the same waffle as your Yorkshire shop steward. It amazes me how some people get through life knowing next to nothing about how things work.

    • Robert,the man casme across as a complete idiot, and what he said merely confirmed that he hasn’t a feckin’ clue.
      Twenty years’ experience as a Union Rep….prepare you for anything, that does.
      A vote for Labour is a vote to leave the Single Market, Brewdog suggests.
      Ah, No, Keir Strarmer’s (or should that be Kier?)six points mumble fumble fade to grey.
      He hasn’t got a clue an bout even the basics of Brexit, and it shows.
      For God sake, Labour supporters, when are you going to stop fooling yourselves that this bunch of Never Weres are any good?
      Why are so many wasters getting buckets of cash out of our political system up here?

      • Cubby says:

        Labour in Scotland what a pathetic role call of leaders they have had.

        • Roy Moore says:

          Apart from the fact they are not called Labour in Scotland, what exactly is a pathetic role call?

          • Cubby says:

            Another smart Alex reply.

            Labour in Scotland is what they are.

            MacLeish McConnel Lamont Murphy Dugdale Leonard = pathetic role call.

            No doubt being a smart Alex you will correct me if I missed anyone out or if I my spelling is wrong.

            • weegingerdug says:

              Would you two either learn how to disagree without being disagreeable or please take this argument elsewhere. Thank you.

              • Roy Moore says:

                I think I have made serious points here. All I see is ad hom stuff from this character cubby. I do not start such nonsense, I do however, reserve the the right to respond. Especially to infantile name calling. I suggest you review my initial reply posted on March 11, 2018 at 9:51 am in response to a comment by smac1314 and you will, hopefully, agree that there was nothing provocative or insulting going on there. The reaction from cubby is on the other hand, well, immature is about the kindest word for it.

  18. Dan Huil says:

    Labour, like all British nationalist parties, will always put Westminster’s wants above Scotland’s needs.

  19. Macart says:

    You’d like to say the past few days of statements, speeches and releases were a shock… but they’re not.

    New, nu, noo, newest Labour. Practising politics in exactly the same fashion as any Labour before them. They’re not the saviours of the populations of the UK. They are nowhere near fit or able for government. Indeed they’re about as fit to govern the populations of these islands as the current incumbents and oh what a picture of ‘strong and stable’ they’ve proven to be. Actions speak far louder than words, and their statements on all things Scottish stand as a matter of public record.

    They still lie. They still smear. They still believe in dividing demographics, undermining institutions, communities, individuals to suit their agenda. Anything for the win right? Use anything and anyone, with no worries over the collateral damage to peoples lives, so long as most of the wrong people take more damage. Wrong, being anyone who disagrees with them.

    I’m sure that when they sit around musing on their next electoral strategy and such, the next super wheeze to assault the Scottish government, the SNHS, police Scotland, law, education, technology base and production of Scottish goods? They’ll do so with a sad regretful look on their face.

    Perhaps someone should have a quiet word over their definitions of kind and honest?

  20. Gavin C Barrie says:

    Scots independence supporters, welcome immigrants, are called narrow nationalists. Labour supporters declare themselves as internationalists, the Red flag etc., but want to restrict immigration. Confused?
    Leonard is Corbyn’s reservation agent, like the ones we used to see in cowboy westerns as Indian agents. Bribe a few with status, and provide the rest with whatever damaging pleasure/rhetoric keeps them docile.

    • Macart says:

      Must admit to an almost sick laugh when I heard Corbyn’s guff on immigration. International credentials looking somewhat ragged has to be said. Though again, it really shouldn’t come as much of a shock to people.

      Pretend socialism. Pretend Internationalism. Pretend politics for the people. But mainly pretending.

  21. Jason Smoothpiece says:

    Labour at least they are consistent, consistently shocking

    I dont think we have ever been so badly served by such poor politicians in the British Nationalist parties.

    While we pee ourselves laughing at both Labour and the Tories because that’s how bad they are the serious point is its bad for democracy.

    These idiots have influence and power.

    Independence I always thought would be a gradual process, as more non informed folk become informed or simply broke, I felt thats the best way take our time do it right.

    Now I think this is an actual emergency we have to become independent as soon as possible, England is finished they have not one credible politician.

    When we are independent we can deal with the flow of English refugees to Scotland and we can send aid darn sarf.

    But we need independence now before we go the way of England.

  22. Leonard’s front bench is James Kelly, Neil Findlay Ian Gray, Monica Lennon, and…no, you got me there.
    Lamont is off sharing Robert Byrne’s suppers with Blue sectarian Tories and Lobbyists, Dugdale is still half way out the uterus as a Born Again Scottish Nationalist, and Rowley is still hiding behind his lectern.
    I have never in my lifetime witnessed such a bunch of losers of any political hue.
    They are a talentless bunch of fellow travellers.
    Can any Scot imagine this lot, or Davidson’s Listory Boys, or Rennie’s Famous Five running Scotland?

    We’ve just had to endure another Ranjurs Sellick day over here in Glesca.

    The City grinds to a menacing halt as tens of thousands of endomorphs run riot on the transport network and city centre shopping precincts.

    James Kelly’s, Adam Tomkin’s, and Murdo Fraser’s innocent young football supporters were not criminalised today, because it ain’t no crime to march with Union Bears under a banner depicting an OBFA freed ‘yoof’ kicking another wearing green and white hoops on the head ,another @ACAB banner (‘All Cops Are Bastards’) and for the mob to pound its illegal way menacingly towards Ibrox, flares burning, faces masked, obligingly providing the Press snappers with cute photies of the Union Jacked mob giving the Seig Heil salute and glowering hatefully on cue to camera.

    I hope WATP Adam Tomkins, and Murdo The Queen’s Eleven Fraser are pleased that so many of their party members turned out on such a nice early Spring Morning, to fuck up the peace for the vast majority of Scots who had the great good sense not to vote for them in the first place.

    Kelly, Tomkins and Fraser,are disgusting toads that pander to this mob of fascist thugs.
    But then again, who else would vote for Kelly and Co except knuckle dragging psychos?
    Was Patrick Harvie at the game?

  23. Clapper57 says:

    Ah but apparently we have misinterpreted the part where Oh Jeremy Corbyn referred to immigration and low wages….Paul Sweeney mansplained it for us….you see oh Jeremy Corbyn was not pandering to the Xenophobic bigots darn sarf who voted for Brexit no it’s just us thickos who were too thick to understand the real context behind these comments. Duh !!

    However…..the fact it would even be open to misinterpretation beggars belief in what has to be the most contentious of issues around Brexit where one of the main gripes of Brexiteers is the importance of taking back control of borders, where the accusations have been made re ‘they’ are stealing our jobs ……..well to me it sounded awfy like oh Jeremy Corbyn was indeed echoing the cries of many a Brexiteer and not sounding like any socialist I know….or would want to know.

    The devil is indeed in the detail and unfortunately for oh Jeremy Corbyn he cannot decide what the Labour party’s position is re Brexit other than to sit n the fence and only venture of the fence when he feels he has to pander to the Brexiteer mob and try to outdo the Tories in the great British bulldog Fest ( coming to a town near you…probably) …I say British but hey British that is a mere pipe dream believed only by the ‘proud Scots buts’.

    It is almost as if both Tory and Labour are now trying in unison to prove to the ardent Brexiteers who is the most anti immigrant, Eurosceptic and THE most proudest patriotic political party more able to defend Rule Britannia …..a new dawn perhaps of WATP .

    Bottom line is he said it and he cannot take it back and the main problem I have with him is him even thinking it was acceptable to make such a statement in a country that voted to remain. A country where migrants are needed and who play such a vital part in Scotland’s economy .Where the WM power grab from devolved parliaments should have been the overriding and most pertinent current issue in Scotland in the context of Brexit. What was the point of his presence at the branch office conference. Let’s get this straight , Corbyn ain’t the solution to Scotland’s problems but indeed he is most definitely part of the problem, the rest being other Unionist parties, and based on his pathetic contribution on Friday to Scottish politics I can see absolutely NO benefit to worshiping this false messiah.

    He came, He saw but he certainly did not conquer….and looking at recent polls I suspect it will be the same darn sarf ….think we know now after his immigrant/wages comment that the ‘many’ he refers to are the Brexiteers darn sarf and the ‘few’ are well you do the sums….clue it ain’t Scotland in fact it will never be Scotland…..no matter how many times the ‘proud Scots buts’ vote ‘No’.

  24. Alba woman says:

    Ruth Davidson following orders from whoever in London,was and is, prepared to undermine Scottish society by legitimising the horrendous politics of sectarianism. Her ‘boys’ in both parliament and the councils are a total disgrace to any notions of a civilised society.

    Folk have been working for years to rid Scotland of this very real sectarianism steeped in violence and hate.

    Labour folk worked with the Orange order during and after Indey1. They vote forTories in local and national elections.

    My father born in 1908 into a mining family,said in 1979, when M Thatcher was elected, ‘Working class folk will have to batten down the hatches the Tories are back’.

    It seems that Labour folk are prepared to abandon their communities and set sail with Tory pirates. Why?

  25. hettyforindy says:

    What is also disgraceful is that Corbyn actually came to Scotland, ( not from England did he make his speech) to spout his vile anti immigrant crap to the world, to many who would not know better, Scotland is unwelcoming and they will be non the wiser in thinking it has been confirmed by a (Scottish) UK, political party, in Scotland.

    Imo it was a delberate attempt to portray Scotland as intolerant, anti immigrant, closed for business, don’t bother going there. That was the message from a British/English Labour party politician, who came to Scotland, to spout that message to the world. Attention is on the UKok, due to Brexit, so why not pop up to the one country that voted by a huge margin to remain, to portray that country as anti immigrant. Job done.

    On the back of that the disgusting ‘march’ by right wing thugs allowed to go ahead in Scotland, more small minded closed for business and closed to anyone message, wanting to come to Scotland. All to damage business and the Scottish government as it is now, democratic, socially responsible, open and forward looking. That’s just too much for the Britnats, so they are determined to ensure the SNP, progressive, working for Scotland party, is scuppered in any way they can.

    It won’t wash, most people see it for what it is, Britnats’ dirty tactics working against Scotland.

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