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Postby Renvyle » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:29 pm

The Associated Press of Renvyle is an non-profit news cooperative based in Lochmour with teams of broadcasters and reporters all across the country. Throughout our 150 year history we have been committed to providing sources of independent and reliable information to our audiences both at home and abroad, from breaking news to investigative reporting.

With members ranging from national broadcasters to local newspapers we are a truly national organisation. Our journalists have been at the forefront of our nation's most important moments and have helped to shape the course of history with their reporting.

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Postby Renvyle » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:56 pm

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Home · Renvyle · International · Politics · Business · Technology and Science · Arts · Education · Health · Sports · Weather

Parliament formally dissolved, kicking off four week general election campaign


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LOCHMOUR - William Albright has kicked off his party's reelection campaign with a promise of "credible leadership" following the formal dissolving of Parliament earlier today. After a short meeting with the Queen the Prime Minister returned to Jenrick House, delivering a speech in which he argued only the Liberals could be trusted to "steady the ship" and deal with the growing unemployment crisis.

Progressive Party leader James Lawrence lambasted the government's economic record at his party's election launch, expressing confidence that voters would oust what he deemed an "out of touch and out of date administration". Unemployment is set to be the dominant issue of the election, with housing and the environment also at the top of voters' concerns.


How did the day play out?

Mr Albright traveled to Kesslebourne Palace in Candover to ask for the Queen's permission to dissolve Parliament in preparation for a general election on the 17th of October, before returning to Jenrick House to make his speech. While acknowledging the increasing unemployment rate the Prime Minister sought to keep the focus on Mr Lawrence, claiming his opponent's "minimal experience" was "a threat to our security at home and abroad". He highlighted that Mr Lawrence had never served in government and said his earlier career as a journalist showed he was "little more than a career politician looking for his next promotion".

The Leader of the Opposition tried to deflect the attacks at the Progressive campaign launch, held in the heart of Lochmour's financial district. Promising to "focus on the issues" he set out his party's plan to work with the private sector to build 50,000 new houses every year and restated his pledge not to reverse the Liberal government's tax cuts. This has been interpreted as an attempt to reassure moderate voters that the Progressives can be trusted again after eight years in opposition.

His remarks came under blistering attacks from Ayda Westwood, the leader of the People's Labour Party. "After eight years of failed neoliberal policies that have enriched those at the top while hundreds of thousands of workers lose their jobs James Lawrence should have the courage to stand up and say enough is enough," she said. The Greens also criticised Mr Lawrence, arguing that "rubbing shoulders with those that fund the deadly fossil fuel industry shatters his credibility on the issue of saving our planet".


What do the polls suggest may happen?

RTR's poll tracker indicates a comfortable Progressive lead, with our average placing them at 42% with the Liberals trailing at 33%. This would indicate Mr Albright's quest for a third term falling short but would also leave the Progressives without a parliamentary majority. Renvyle hasn't seen a hung parliament since 2007, and this will likely increase scrutiny on the role that Labour or the Greens might play in a minority Progressive government. The poll tracker currently has Labour on 13% and the Greens on 10%, though support for both parties is typically squeezed during general election campaigns.

Last edited by Renvyle on Sat Jul 04, 2020 4:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

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20th September 2019

Postby Renvyle » Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:21 pm

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"IN JIM WE TRUST": CAN LAWRENCE TAKE THE PROGRESSIVES BACK INTO GOVERNMENT?
He's undoubtedly transformed his party, but will it be enough to win back voters' trust?
20 September 2019 | Isabella Stuart


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When James Lawrence first became leader of the Progressive Party in late 2015 his party had just been on the losing end of a second landslide election. Now, with less than a month to go before Renvyle heads to the polls, he stands on the verge of the premiership. The question remains: can he go all the way?

Lawrence has, in all likelihood, been preparing for this moment far longer than he would care to admit. Educated at Holmefield College - practically a breeding ground for future Prime Ministers - and with deep family connections to the political elite thanks to his father's former position at the head of the civil service, a career in politics seemed obvious. He went straight from the University of Sturbridge to working in the office of Moderate Party leader Alistair Balding and by the late 90s a bid for Parliament appeared imminent. Instead he switched to a career in journalism, declining to join the newly-formed Progressive Party that emerged from a merger of the Moderates with the Social Democratic Alliance.

Looking back, the decision not to stand for Parliament under the Progressive banner could be seen as a mistake. The party won in a landslide, amassing the largest parliamentary majority in history and launching the careers of a new generation of political leaders. Lawrence could have been one of them. But, as he has since highlighted publicly, his politics simply did not match those of the era. As the Progressive government embarked on a programme of nationalisation and an expansion of the welfare state, a centrist like Lawrence felt politically homeless, trapped between the social democracy of the left and the rightwards drift of the Liberal People's Party. As his writings began to gain more publicity this young and ambitious journalist soon found himself speaking for a growing segment of the population, eventually leading to his appointment as editor of the centre-right magazine National Dispatch in 2004. He used this platform to great effect, with the magazine winning plaudits for being one of the few right-leaning publications to criticse William Albright for moving the Liberals sharply to the right.

After the 2007 general election, in which the Progressives lost their majority and had to tack even further left to win the support of Labour and the Greens, internal divisions within the government began to grow. The more centrist grouping of Progressive MPs were increasingly prepared to flex their political muscles and defy the whip, while the party membership also started to grumble at the leftward drift of the government. Lawrence saw an opening, resigning his position as editor in 2009 to join the Progressives and lay the groundwork for a run for Parliament. Much to the annoyance of the party's left, still hurt by his occasionally scathing editorials, he was selected as a party-list candidate for the 2011 elections, all but guaranteeing him a seat. It was, however, a seat in opposition: after three terms in office the Progressives were resoundingly rejected by the electorate and Albright's reinvigorated Liberals voted in by a landslide. The mood within the Progressive Party shifted dramatically, with most accepting they had gone too far leftwards. Lawrence's numerous columns warning of such a result were vindicated and he quickly found himself being courted by leadership candidates.

He backed Peter Cook and, when Cook won, was rewarded with a seat at the top of the table. Cook had assured him that he would revert to the centrist origins of the Moderate Party in opposition and for a time the Progressives seemed to be moving in that direction. But as the Liberals pushed through a wave of popular tax cuts Cook, under extreme pressure from his party's trade union allies, felt obligated to oppose the measures. From there on he swung back to the left, much to the dismay of Lawrence and other centrists within the party. By the time of the 2015 election the result was a foregone conclusion: another landslide for the Liberals with the Progressives gaining just two seats. Cook announced his intention to stay on as party leader for a one year "period of reflection" but Lawrence was having none of it. Just three days after the election he launched an internal coup against Cook, toppling his former mentor and setting in motion a leadership election that would make him Leader of the Opposition by December 2015. When one senior Progressive who had lost their seat in the 2015 election was asked if they thought the party had any chance of rebuilding, they replied simply "in Jim we trust".

The change in both tone and substance was immediate: instead of talking about tax and spending policies Lawrence spent the first two years trying to shift the conversation to more 'bread and butter' issues, with a national shortage of housing become the focus. The issue resonated with the public and the party saw its poll numbers tick up. Inevitably, though, the national conversation would shift back to Albright's economic record which even as late as the summer of 2017 appeared unquestionable. The Liberals spent every minute of airtime they could find demanding to know if the Progressives would reverse their popular tax cuts, trying to force this new political threat to pick a side. Lawrence knew that any declaration that he wanted to keep the tax cuts in place could trigger an almighty civil war on the left - he did it anyway.

The backlash came swiftly, with the loudest critics found at the top of the trade union movement. They publicly threatened to pull their financial support for the party whilst local constituency parties reported waves of defections to the People's Labour Party. Lawrence refused to budge. As the summer of 2017 came to an end it became apparent that he had triumphed over the more left-leaning factions of his party and, while a share of the Progressive base did turn to Labour, an even larger proportion were won over from the Liberals. In picking a fight with the unions Lawrence appeared not only decisive but also principled and in line with majority opinion which had soured on Renvyle's declining union movement. The timing could hardly have been better: just as the summer came to an end the economy entered a serious downturn and the next two years would be dominated by rising unemployment levels, shattering public confidence in the government.

As the election approaches it's tempting to assume that the Progressives have the whole thing sewn up: they have a clear lead in the opinion polls and no government has ever been reelected with an unemployment rate this high. It's unlikely Lawrence or his top team are as complacent as that. Albright is a formidable campaigner who has won two landslides in a row. This will likely be the Prime Minister's last election, win or lose - and he doesn't like to lose. Not only that but the Progressives need to gain a whopping 55 seats to win a majority which, while not impossible, certainly seems unlikely given that there hasn't been a swing on that scale - for any party - since their 1999 landslide. This could leave them reliant on either the Greens or Labour to form a government, inevitably bringing trade offs that the Liberals will hope to highlight during the campaign. For now, though, Lawrence and his party look to be in a commanding position. Only time will tell if they can go all the way.
Last edited by Renvyle on Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:01 am, edited 4 times in total.

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22nd September 2019

Postby Renvyle » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:17 pm

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Home · Renvyle · International · Politics · Business · Technology and Science · Arts · Education · Health · Sports · Weather

Left-wing parties launch attack on Progressives' economic policies


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TOLHURST - James Lawrence has been forced to defend his economic policies after they came under intense scrutiny from the leaders of both the People's Labour Party and the Greens. The attacks by the smaller left-wing parties centred on his pledges to maintain a balanced budget and to maintain the government's tax cuts should the Progressives win next month's election.

Mr Lawrence hit back this evening with a statement that said he was "proud" to reaffirm his commitment to avoiding a budget deficit, arguing his party's "fiscal prudence" was the most viable alternative to the Liberal government. Labour leader Ayda Westwood had earlier urged Mr Lawrence to abandon the pledge, saying "what this country needs is investment and it needs it now".

Some economists have argued that with the unemployment rate reaching 7% the government should stimulate the economy by increasing public spending. The Prime Minister has based his campaign on his opposition to this, while the Progressives have sought to distance themselves from their last period in office when they built up a large budget deficit. Only Labour and the Greens have come out in support of increasing taxes and government borrowing to stimulate the economy.


What did the smaller parties say?

In a speech in Tolhurst to Steel Worker's Union representatives Mrs Westwood argued that "decades of underinvestment in our manufacturing sector by both Liberal and Progressive governments" helped to trigger a growing crisis of unemployment. She suggested that only a "radical alternative" could put the nation back on course, promising to undo William Albright's tax cuts and increase borrowing to fund a major investment programme that would account for regional inequalities.

Green Party leader Jeremy Sutton concurred, warning at a rally of party activists that "four more years of Liberal economic thinking would further devastate both our workforce and our environment". Both Labour and the Greens have pledged to work together in a hung parliament to bring about increased investment which they say will help to bring back jobs that have been lost in recent years.


How did the other party leaders respond ?

Mr Lawrence refused to back off from his party's manifesto pledges and instead criticised the "voodoo economics" of his left-wing opppnents. Promising to hold firm despite the pressure he said that "a Progressive government with myself as Prime Minister will make no changes to income tax levels" but would instead "work with the private sector to boost businesses and create the jobs that have disappeared under the premiership of William Albright". When asked how he would maintain this position in a hung parliament in which his party may be reliant on support from either Labour or the Greens he insisted that his focus was "solely on securing a majority for a new kind of government".

The Prime Minister used the fallout to warn that only a vote for the Liberals would stop "a return to the out of control borrowing of the last Progressive government". He argued that Labour and the Greens would "hold the Leader of the Opposition hostage" and said his opponent's lack of government experience would leave him "ill-equipped to manage the delicacies of a hung parliament".


Analysis: key players sticking to their core themes as campaign heats up

Today marked an early point in the general election campaign in which the key players made it clear that they weren't playing nice. With the Progressives ahead in the polls they are clearly the main target for the other parties, and the leaders of Labour and the Greens proved this with their attacks on James Lawrence today. Labour in particular see the economic downturn as a vindication of their criticisms of the laissez-faire attitudes of both the main parties and you can expect them to keep shifting the conversation onto this topic as the campaign progresses.

The Progressives may not necessarily resist fighting the election on these topics: the party sees these debates as an opportunity to reinforce the changes Mr Lawrence has made in the past four years, reminding voters that they have changed and that the days of borrowing-led growth are over. Top figures in the Liberal campaign also insist they can work this to their advantage by pointing out that should the Progressives fall short of a majority (as the polls currently indicate) then they will be reliant on cooperation with the smaller parties. If they can tie the rhetoric of Mrs Westwood and Mr Sutton to the Progressives' economic reputation then they could convince voters that nothing has really changed in the main opposition party.

What both main parties seem to be banking on is that, despite all the economic turbulence of the past two years, voters' attitudes are largely unchanged from the 2015 election. They think that the electorate still expects strict fiscal discipline and remains suspicious of large spending promises - it is this very thinking that propelled James Lawrence to his party's leadership four years ago. If - and it's a big if - the public mood has been radically shifted by heightening unemployment levels then it's just possible that Labour's message could cut through to Liberal and Progressive supporters alike.
Last edited by Renvyle on Tue Feb 25, 2020 10:46 am, edited 2 times in total.

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26th September 2019

Postby Renvyle » Wed Apr 15, 2020 12:42 pm

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Ascendant Westwood tears into main parties at TV debate
Labour leader casts both Liberals and Progressives as "part of the problem" and calls on voters to turn to something new as likelihood of a hung parliament grows.



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Just two weeks ago many Progressive MPs were confidently predicting a return to government with a small majority. Few - if any - are predicting such an outcome following last night's RTR debate. Ayda Westwood, the previously little-known Labour leader who has emerged as the wildcard of the election campaign, adopted a scorched earth policy towards her opponents last night, sparing little sympathy as both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition struggled under the spotlight. Having successfully commanded the bulk of the media's attention going into the debate she set about making her case for a new start in Renvylese politics from the very first question. When moderator Leanne Moore quizzed her on why she opposed the balanced budget pledges made by her two main opponents she went straight into her stump speech, lambasting the "corporate-influenced" main parties and accusing them of siding with big businesses over ordinary voters.

"What neither the Prime Minister nor James Lawrence are telling you is that to maintain a balanced budget during a recession you have to cut spending on key public services. That's because the revenue you get coming in from taxes on incomes as well as business profits go down, and so to make up the difference you have to slash spending on things like unemployment benefits," effortlessly aiming her message directly at the growing numbers of voters out of work. "What that means is that for millions of people out there who've already lost their jobs life is going to get tougher and tougher, pushing more families into poverty and destitution. But at the same time both the Liberals and Progressives are refusing to raise taxes on those individuals and companies at the very top that seem to be doing just fine during this economic turmoil. They might call my spending plans reckless, but as far as I can see the only ones putting our country at risk are those that think now's the time to be looking after those at the top at the expense of everyone else."

And with that sweeping opening statement the Labour leader set the tone for the rest of the night. She highlighted Liberal proposals to further lower corporation tax as "yet another example of the corporate class dictating government policy" while simultaneously shredding James Lawrence's environmental policies as "insulting to the working-class and ethnic minority groups that suffer most when the air we breathe is polluted and damaging to our lungs". And on it continued, no policy area discussed without reference to the failure of Renvyle's two main parties to sufficiently address the needs of the public. William Albright and James Lawrence are both seasoned debaters and they were not without their attack lines, but obscure references to Westwood's role in the CTO strikes of the 1990s appeared petty and misjudged given the nature of economic crisis facing the country. Albright's attempts to trash Westwood simply made him look desperate; he has perhaps already realised that the third term of which he has dreamed is slipping beyond reach. Lawrence, meanwhile, simply appeared out of his depth and like a child arrogantly taking a place at the adults' table. After spending the past four years attempting to build up an image of statesmanship and competence, everything he had worked for seemed to disintegrate in front of the studio audience.

The question sweeping through Lochmour is just how much of an impact the commanding debate performance will have on Labour's fortunes at the polls. The party has been somewhat of an irrelevance in previous elections and is unused to this level of media attention but strategists from across party lines predict a boost for Labour's ratings at the expense of the Progressives. "If the election returns a hung parliament then this will be the day that people point to as the turning point," one Liberal official commented. "Westwood has all but assured that she'll have a role to play in James Lawrence's government. And as for the Liberals: we were fucked before and we're still fucked now. Albright needed to wipe the floor with the debate and instead he got bested by the leader of a party with less than 30 seats."
Last edited by Renvyle on Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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29th September 2019

Postby Renvyle » Sun Apr 19, 2020 11:52 am

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Shock poll places Labour at 24%, doubling pre-campaign rating



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A new RTR poll released today has put support for the People's Labour Party at 24%, a historic high for the party as it continues to reap the benefits from Ayda Westwood's Thursday night debate performance. In a sign that the general election is still fully up for grabs, the survey shows the Progressives losing seven points in just the past week, falling to 35% - well short of what is required to win a majority. The Liberals are down four to 29%, their lowest rating since 2005, while the Greens also drop three points to 7%.

With less than three weeks remaining in the election campaign the poll signals a potential three-way fight for first place, with a hung parliament all but assured if the vote were held today. The results will send shockwaves through Progressive headquarters, which just a fortnight ago was confidently predicting a return to government with a small majority after eight years in opposition. If Labour's surge is sustained for the remainder of the campaign then Renvyle would likely see its first coalition government since 1985. While it remains possible that one party could win enough seats to form a minority government - as the Progressives did in 2007 - momentum appears to be turning against James Lawrence's party. He has spent the last three days defending his economic policies after they came under fierce attack from Westwood, with a significant segment of voters appearing to embrace the Labour leader's calls for mass government investment to tackle unemployment.

William Albright risks becoming an afterthought in the election campaign, with the Prime Minister being sharply criticsed by senior colleagues for his failure to address public concerns over unemployment. "We've essentially gone into a general election telling the voters that even though people are losing their jobs up and down the country, we should just carry on with the same policies that we've been putting in place for eight years now as though nothing has changed. It's absolute fucking madness. Everything has changed," an unnamed cabinet minister told the Sunday Herald. A hung parliament would be little help to the Liberals as none of the other parties would be likely to enter a coalition with them, nor could they likely survive as a minority government after a divisive eight years in office. Some Liberal MPs appear to be planning ahead for a post-election leadership battle, with Harriet Baldwin, the centrist former minister whom Albright defeated to become party leader in 2004, rumoured to have been contacting colleagues to build support for her bid. A spokeswoman denied the claims.

It remains unclear whether the Labour surge will last. The party has never served in government and 2015 was the first general election in which it surpassed even 10% of the vote. Formed in 1997 by four Social Democrat MPs who declined to merge into the newly-founded Progressive Party, Labour has been boosted in recent years by increased trade union support after high profile clashes between union leaders and James Lawrence led to them pulling their support for the Progressives. Lawrence's advisers have hinted in recent days that they will use Labour's union links as an attack line in an attempt to remind voters of his very public splits with the labour movement. The effectiveness of such attacks at a time of economic turmoil when many workers are turning to their unions for aid will certainly be called into question.

"The truth is that they have almost nothing on Labour or Mrs Westwood," commented Lee Mangan, a former advisor to the Prime Minister. "No one saw this coming. Absolutely no one saw this surge coming and so no one has any clue how to stop it. The Liberals have spent the past four years digging up dirt on Lawrence, hoping to pummel him with a media blitz during the four weeks of the campaign. That seems rather pointless now he's free falling all by himself. And now they're rushing to find dirt on Labour - they're basically trying to do four years work in four weeks. It's the same for the Progressives: they've spent this entire term crafting a message around housing and environmental justice that just looks weak when compared to what Labour are offering. Neither party was prepared and now we're seeing the results of that."

Last edited by Renvyle on Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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2nd October 2019

Postby Renvyle » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:20 am

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Lawrence mounts forceful attack on Labour over trade union links



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James Lawrence speaks to Benjamin Cohen at an Ainslee University business forum

Progressive leader James Lawrence last night launched fresh criticisms of Labour's connections with Renvyle's largest trade unions, who have helped bankroll the election campaign of Ayda Westwood's insurgent party. Citing Mrs Westwood's own experience as a former union official, Mr Lawrence argued that should Labour win the government would be "in the pocket of the trade union movement". He highlighted his very public split with the unions in 2017 when he pledged a Progressive government would not revert the Liberal tax cuts of recent years.

The comments, made during a Q&A session at an Ainslee University business forum presented by former Treasury official Benjamin Cohen, appear to signal a new approach to dealing with the Labour surge. The Progressives now hope to taint Labour as beholden to their financial backers, contrasting this with the combative approach that Mr Lawrence took to the unions that greatly boosted his personal popularity. Some figures within the party are thought to be concerned that the tactic will backfire, however. A high level source within the party's campaign team revealed that deputy leader Julia Campbell, who is also Shadow Finance Minister, has warned that the reputation of the unions has improved significantly in the past two years as many have stepped in to provide care packages to workers laid off during the recession.

Mrs Westwood hit back against the attacks, insisting that she is proud "to work with those who defend workers' rights". Labour strategists have suggested that they are happy to fight the campaign on this ground, insisting that a debate around party funding will backfire on the Progressives, who have become increasingly reliant on corporate donations since cutting ties with the largest trade unions. One Labour MP with close ties to the party leadership noted that the dependency of both the Liberals and Progressives on private sector donations may aid Labour's messaging campaign that paints the two main parties as two sides of the same coin. There is a concern among Progressive MPs that if Labour is able to claim the mantle of change with its radical economic programme then it will draw much of the anti-Liberal vote.

It comes as opinion polls show a sustained rise in Labour support that all but guarantees a hung parliament following the general election on 17 October. Labour now stands at 27% in RTR's poll tracker, just behind the Liberals at 28% and the Progressives at 32%. Such circumstances were almost unthinkable at the beginning of the campaign, when the Progressives enjoyed up to 44% support with Labour sitting at around 12%. Yet a formidable campaign led by Mrs Westwood has shifted the terms of the debate, with both the government and the Progressives criticised for their economic policies in the face of the highest unemployment figures Renvyle has seen in the 21st Century.

The shift in campaign tactics will also likely be in response to Mr Lawrence's plummeting favourability ratings. When the election was called on 19 September his net approval rating stood at +7 but has since collapsed to -21. Aides hope that by raising the issue of trade union influence voters will be reminded of the summer of 2017, when a clash between the Progressive leader and union bosses over maintaining William Albright's tax cuts led to a withdrawal of all financial support. The episode marked a major point in Mr Lawrence's modernisation programme, and in the aftermath his net approval rating reached +27 while the government saw its opinion poll lead halved. Whether such levels of support can be reached during an economic crisis that has fragmented Renvyle's political system remains to be seen.
Last edited by Renvyle on Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.


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