Class Does Matter – And Should 148

The media and political classes like to tell us that we are now a classless society. Class should no longer be a factor in politics. Measures aimed at fairness are a sign of “the politics of envy”. Everybody should realise that fatcat bankers stashing away their £100 million pa incomes in tax havens magically benefit everybody.

Yet of course class does exist and really does matter. For a lesson in class in Britain I only have to walk out of leaf lined Whitehall Gardens, down the hill and into the South Acton estate. Four hundred yards but an entirely different world. With entirely different voting patterns, too. Class remains an important factor in the election. The working class – much of which has no prospect of work – still clings to New Labour.

Not only does class matter, it is more rigid than ever. The UK has the lowest social mobility of any developed country.

It also has the biggest gap between rich and poor of any developed country except the United States. The gap between wealth and poor grew larger under New Labour at an accelerating rate. In fact we are catching the US up, and the wealth gap under New Labour grew much faster than under Thatcher, indeed at the fastest rate since it has been possible to measure it. When Mandelson said he was “Extremely relaxed about the filthy rich” he really meant it. The government’s enslavement to the city, deregulation and worship of Mammon has had spectacular ill results.

This lack of social mobility is a product of social attitude as much as structure. Anybody who has moved around the higher echelons of the City and of government will know that there is a nexus of family, school, and Oxbridge college relationships that greases the path of commercial and political transaction. Similar systems work in every country, but it is stronger here. To get the finance for my African project, I used the services of a man whose entire value was that he was at Oxford, a minor aristocrat, dines at the Wolseley and knows everybody. He could get me in the door of the merchant banks and seen at decision making level. He had no other qualification and had never done any succesful business himself. He lives off introduction fees. Others are able to make better use of their opportunities but I tell the story to illustrate a simple truth about this country. It is who you know that counts.

With such a huge wealth gap and with almost no social mobility, class resentment in the UK is not just natural, it is needed. The irony is that it is the Conservatives who are set to suffer and New Labour to benefit. The only desire of the New Labour leadership was to insert themselves into the gilded circle – into which Blair was anyway born – and get troughing. But New Labour voters still do not see that, not least because they are kept in such a pit of poorly schooled, reality TV-fed ignorance.

Cameron has made the crucial mistake of surrounding himself with fellow toffs. Thatcher was not one and had Tebbit as her self evidently non upper class attack dog. Major was not one either and was backed up by blokey Ken Clarke. I can only imagine that Cameron surrounded himself by an entire front bench of public school yaahs because that is the company in which he feels comfortable. But most people like their subservience to a ruling class they cannot join not to be rubbed in their faces quite so obviously.

Huge puzzlement is being expressed all over the media and blogosphere about how the Tory lead can have narrowed so much. There is your answer.

148 thoughts on “Class Does Matter – And Should

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  • John

    So much analyses–and most having a common thread–that, Britain–like the most of world, is run by powerful elites.

    Quoting from particular books, whilst helpful to particular arguments, do nothing more, than does a pill against a particular ailment. In other words, it is not of itself, a panacea, nor does any one book cover the subject empirically.

    Populations have been coerced, by ruling elites, one way or another, for millennia.

    What is socially and morally destructive, is that philosophers have given us the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment–and so forth–combined with all the alleged, emancipating benefits of “democracy” and we are still shouting from our cages.

    How does one bring about a meritocracy, or fair society? I suspect that, any like change, however meritocratically intended will involve a hefty blood price. In the meantime, the issue is becoming more and more a global problem, and it is open to anyone’s interpretation, as to where it will lead.

    “Class” is so Edwardian–try “benign tyranny”, or “benign slavery” as possible 21st century “class” equivalents.

  • Apostate

    Mindless dingbats-talk about dumbed-down Britain.

    Years ago Brits who encountered Americans abroad or here used to wonder at their lack of knowledge re-the rest of the world and general low-down ignorance.

    By now you guys sound exactly like those Americans did decades ago.So completely propagandized you’re now like mind-control slaves in perpetual slow destinationless motion.All the elite media system need do is fill you head to toe with falsehood and fable and you’ll regurgitate is as if it were evidence of independent thinking on your part.

    Reading the comments above on the election prospects resembles turning on the corporate media and being gob-smacked at the same time entertained by the sheer level of disinformation and myth-making going on out there.

    Tuning in is the means to begin to understand the pretty absurd things mindless Brits are thinking and saying these days.

    You just think what the corporate media tells you to think.

    The pious comment re-the need to use this comment board “to win hearts and minds” was typical of the kind of regurgitated media sound-bite that passes for wisdom in your tiny convoluted little corporate media-created parallel unverse.

    The “hearts and minds” bollocks is usually parrotted ad infinitum when the media cover Afghanistan.

    Typically you dumbed-down Brits haven’t yet worked out that the prospect of the British winning even one heart or mind in Afghanistan is nil.

    Afghans are well aware that while the US may be deemed to have made one mistake by attacking their country in 2001 the Brits have done so on three previous occasions.

    The Afghan resistance reflects the particular Pathan determination to send each British invader encountered home in a box.

    Hearts and minds my fucking backside!

    No wonder the disinfo team chose to attack this site when they set about revamping the ridiculous official 911 fable!

    Mindless dingbats!

  • John


    Give up those evening classes at “South Park” academy. Even your abusive sloganising doesn’t reach the banal standards of Sarah Palin.

    As for dumbed-down Britain–quite agree–we have a lot to curse America about.

    Unfortunately, your ignorant masters, have become our ignorant masters’ masters.

    Only shitoids like Bliar–that is “Blair” spelled appropriately, for your understanding–have hung Britain like a turd about the ass of America, to share the inordinate costs of its mercenary corporate wars.

    Yet, like clever working Americans, we too suffer the effects of bankruptcy in education and health services.

    BTW. Have you noticed how seriously aggressive your Democrat and Republican electorate are towards one-another, while your politicians lick the backsides of the same Corporate masters?

  • dreoilin

    “I think asking whether females are less likely to go to war than males overlooks perhaps more relevant issues.” –CheebaCow

    I’m not asking the question, and I don’t really care, one way or another, to be honest. It’s men like JimmyGiro who keep bringing up the subject on the web, in one forum or another, and using Thatcher, Gandhi and Meir as their “proof” that women are as warlike as men. My view is that if there were no military, nobody to fight, nobody to fly the planes, nobody to operate the drones — politicians could yell at each other all day on the phone, or face to face, but they’d have no young men or women to send to fight to their deaths. Pushing buttons won’t send missilis either, if those missiles haven’t been maintained, along with the systems that launch and direct them. Or if they have never been produced because there was no market for them. Arms manufacturers drive war. The military carry them out, while the politicians waffle.

    “BTW dont loose ur mind bout speeling. U can ushually understand what there trying 2 say.”

    I think that falling standards of literacy are indicative of a general dumbing down of youth. I have heard it said that most Americans don’t read as much as one book per year. I don’t know the statistics for these islands. But if the youth of today continue to get their spelling lessons on the web, it won’t be long before they can’t read at all. Othr thn txt mssgs. I have a son who was educated in UCD, and did post-grad in London. He’s worked in the US and is now in Australia. When he left Ireland he would never have mixed up “they’re” and “there”. He’s doing it now, and quite frankly, that upsets me … If the internet is going to reduce our young people to the lowest common denominator in literacy, I don’t think it’s a good thing. And as a semi-aside, I’ve had my eyes thoroughly opened regarding the extent to which American culture has overtaken Australia, which in my youth I thought of as a very distinct, different, and slightly exotic place. Now it’s all “Awesome” and Starbucks and McDonald’s and “cool”.


    “Dreoilin, re. Jimmy G, I know what you mean. But it’s so wearing, the constant and predictable attacks on women, regardless of the topic or the thread, as though all women in the world … “–Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, yes, I agree. I have dealt with men who makes the most outrageous generalisations about women, based on their own bad experiences. We have a journalist in Dublin who’s had a difficult time with child custody, and manages to drag the subject into every article he writes, irrespective of *what* he began writing about. I’m simply wondering what’s up with JimmyGiro, and if my past experiences are anything to go by — it’s possibly the family courts. Which have been outrageously biased against men – even though in “Catholic Ireland” we’ve only had divorce since 1995.

    “I’m bitter about various things, you know, as are we all, I should imagine, but I don’t attribute all the world’s ills to my personal hobby-horses.”

    Take it easy. If you thought I was inviting Jimmy to spew some more anti-female material, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m curious what’s driving him, which is a different thing entirely.

  • dreoilin

    “The pious comment re-the need to use this comment board “to win hearts and minds” was typical of the kind of regurgitated media sound-bite that passes for wisdom in your tiny convoluted little corporate media-created parallel unverse.

    “The “hearts and minds” bollocks is usually parrotted ad infinitum when the media cover Afghanistan.”

    So you didn’t even get my sarcasm. I see.

  • dreoilin

    “Typically you dumbed-down Brits haven’t yet worked out that the prospect of the British winning even one heart or mind in Afghanistan is nil.”

    Worked it out long ago, mate, and I don’t know where you get your notion of “superiority” from, but I’d be curious to know. I’m not British, but same difference on this subject.

  • anno

    Rothschilds in charge of UK for centuries?

    Party dogs turned into willing huskies?

    British brains more washed than US ones?

    Massa Craig kicks ass for blogger’s views?

    Electioneering is about marketing, but in this thread it has turned into fish market with every stallholder calling his wares to drown out the others. There are real issues in an election, and yet those real issues usually get totally ignored.

    The real issue of class is demonstrated by Thatcher and Blair, that very ordinary people, when they get on the magic carpet of a Rothschild idea, will ride the thing to destruction, like they are riding a persona for which they are unaccountable. They are just frail, mammalian invertebrates inside dalek shells.

    In my book the word Toff is nothing to do with wealth, but completely to do with a persona of British duplicity, deceit, callousness, not me guv, jobsworth, nastiness, which I see across all income and social classes. It is accompanied by a swaggering, dog-fighting, territorial, vengeful ignorance, a persona which I see just as much in politicians like Cameron as top executives of Rothy Banks or on the building site, and across all income and social classes.

    Craig is defining class as income. By this definition, I agree in so far as income matters, class matters. It is disgraceful that Maggie and Blair have hugely increased the divide between rich and poor. I always said that, and it was very painful to me, a poor little public school boy, watching her introduce such blatant inequalities as the Poll tax etc.

    The Roths don’t give a toss if the pound gets rogered by QE, devaluation, or IMF/EU Greece-style decree or the markets. They have taken their pounds out of the country. The markets closing. One box of avocadoes a pound. Fresh fish. Fresh fish. Must go. Must go. One pound. One pound. The price tag on the UK plc has been taken off and we’re going to be sold off for a few p.

  • dreoilin

    “Typically you dumbed-down Brits haven’t yet worked out that the prospect of the British winning even one heart or mind in Afghanistan is nil.”

    Oh, and by the way, it’s even less for the Yanks. You’re in minus figures. So where you’re coming from I’m not sure. I have read about the (up-to-now) standards of the so-called “trained” army and police in Afghanistan, and between language difficulties and questionable loyalties, I wouldn’t bank on any of them to back up anything NATO does. Nor would I blame them if they didn’t. It’s their country, not NATO’s.

  • anno

    Sorry. ‘ calling ‘his’ wares, ‘ should read ‘their wares’. When bashing bankers of the last letter in the alphabet variety, it’s always important to remain completely pc.

  • JimmyGiro

    Suhayl Saadi, and dreoilin,

    You are both confusing women with feminists; rather like some people confuse Germans with fascists. By doing this, you freely engage in straw-man arguments; just look back on what I actually wrote, and compare it to what you reported.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Did you know, Lieutenant Tongue, that there is a persistent legend in Afghanistan that some Afghan tribes are descended from the ‘lost’ tribes of Israel? Did you know, Comrade Stalin, that there are tribes who wear Stars of David all over their chughas (long-coats)? The same claim is made for Kashmir and some Kashmiris. And of course, ‘lost tribes’ lore is widely dispersed across West/ Central Asia and East/ southern Africa as well. The veracity of such claims is almost beside the point.

    Although many of your links are very interesting and well worth a look (I agree with Vronsky), your obsession with ‘The Jews’ – and it is this, isn’t it, Work-Makes-Free, that is central to your thinking – undermines any good you may be imparting.

    I think that you, under another name, may have posted those comments about me on another thread which at my humble request got deleted or blocked because they were so obnoxious. If you claim material of yours is being deleted, perhaps you ought to ask yourself what is might be about that material which results in its deletion. I think too that perhaps the webmaster might indicate the nature of the material so that everyone can see there is no political censorship going on.

    You know that many of the people who tend to post here might well agree that the horrible and psychopathic ‘Israel-First’ imperialists are screwing-up the world and that rich and powerful elites run the military-industrial complex. The banks, gold and arms, drugs, porn, organ-extraction-and-trading, the whole stinking thing. It may well be that some of these elites are also into pederasty on an industrial scale. I agree that all these ‘enquiries’ whose evidence gets censored for 75-100 years are suspicious in the extreme.

    To their credit, bloggers like Arsalan, with whom, as you know, I have not always agreed on everything, have always been very assiduous about drawing a distinction b/w vigorous and sustained critique of Zionism and just being Anti-Jewish. I do not think that you make that crucial distinction.

    I also get your surreal and sometimes entertaining irony and it’s very clever and all that. But when you constantly demean all the other bloggers here and link anti-imperialist ideation and action to an arcane and obsessive schematic which posits a neat hypothesis of world domination, you come close to the modus operandum of David Icke et al. That is, to mix-in some serious stuff with which anyone remotely anti-imperialist could not fail to concur with an underpinning construct of irrationality so that the effect is to destabilise the entire edifice of anti-imperialism. I think people like Icke are disinformation agents of Empire.

    I think that it is time for you to ‘come clean’ about your views, as one single, albeit pseudonymous, identity and finally to do what the larries did not seem able to do, and answer my direct (and now very obviously partisan) question in a direct and clear manner:

    Are you against US/ UK corporate war-machine economic and foreign policy or are you an imperial lackey?

    I am sorry if I seem to be hectoring you, but I think anyone would agree, Professor, that if you can dish it out, you have to accept that some of your medicine will ‘blow back’.

    And as I said, I am Pushtun. And no-one messes with them.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Oh, and by the way, it’s even less for the Yanks.”

    Again, dreoilin, why the obsession with Americans?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The larries are back. Strange, that, no? Answer my question, one-of-the-larries. I asked you a question, which you have never answered. Yet you persist with asking others questions. I do not think that your questions need to be answered until you have answered this most basic of questions. Do you remember what the question was? I am sure that you do. If not, check with Vauxhall.

  • Freeborn

    I can empathize with Apostate totally.

    Like him/her,I suspect,I spend most of my time on other sites but am struck by the poor quality of comment here.

    The comment board is clogged up with adolescents pretending to be adults.You guys will find it instructive to visit comment boards on sites where research is valued and each point on a topic is evaluated by contributors on the basis of its validity as thinking or sustainable argument.

    The pathetic attempts to pigeon-hole contributors as conspiracist/ Ickeists ,”anti-semites”,pro/anti-imperialist,or right/left are indicative of the Franfurt-engineered politically correct mind-set that prevents original thinking.

    You are stuck in a box of your own making.Were you to escape the box you would rapidly find yourself imprisoned in another one.Since you’d likely have no idea how you got out of the first box you’d be equally bewitched and perplexed for decades until you worked out how you ended up stuck in the second or even third one.

    In real discussion what is important is not so much the answers that are given,but rather the questions that are asked.Like Apostate,I detect an inability here to get beyond even the framing of worthwhile questions.Like adolescents you seem obsessed with your own credibility and status and this overrides any thirst for knowledge you might have.

    To put it bluntly this is posturing not thinking.Speculation re-justice,freedom,honesty,defence of liberty versus tyranny are the business to which we need attend not massaging each other’s fragile egos! This is starting the journey that speculation necessarily entails in a decidedly inauspicious and inexpert manner.

    Stating the problem clearly and examining its various proposed solutions was the Popperian method.If it sufficed for him it should do equally well for us.

    If Apostate is an ardent seeker for truth-and I think he is-his frustration with those who limit their speculation within self-imposed artificial political constraints is thoroughly understandable-and I,for one,share it.

  • dreoilin

    “In real discussion what is important is not so much the answers that are given,but rather the questions that are asked.”

    So that explains Larry then. Thanks. But you could have kept it shorter.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    No, Bornfree, I’m just asking whether or not you are part of the war-machine. That is not ‘Frankfurt-engineered’. That is a question of whether or not you agree with the incineration of millions of Iraqis, God-knows how many Afghans and that (planned) of millions of Iranians. It’s really easy to answer. Yes, pose questions and dance on the heads of pins if you wish. But occasionally you have to get off the damned philosophical fence! It’s fuck-all to do with my status. It’s everything to do with whether or not you support mass murder.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    1) Pretending to be several people all of whom support one another in argumentation is hilariously adolescent. Like an evil queen, it may be prudent to consider gazing into the (Lacanian, or just bog-standard silver-backed) mirror once in a while.

    2) One wonders whether Karl Popper would have referred to people with whom he discoursed as, “dingbats” and “arseholes” or whether in philosophical debate he would have used terms such as “my fucking backside”.

    3)You use the same roundel of phrases constantly. It is you who are stuck in a box.

    4) You seem to have developed a particular focus on debunking Arsalan and I. An observation, merely. Empirically made.

    5)What are your views on the British National Party? Oh! That was another question! Well, the questions are the thing, aren’t they. The ones left unanswered tell us more about the person to whom they are addressed than a thousand pompous posts by pseudonymous personages attempting to justify their failure to answer the central question of this discourse.

  • technicolour

    “In real discussion what is important is not so much the answers that are given,but rather the questions that are asked.”

    Sadly, this philosophy is wasted on most people. It’s like when you’re in the countryside, and someone asks you for directions to the local pub, and instead, for a bit of a laugh, you direct them round the houses, up a creek, and into a sewage pit. And then they complain! Because you’ve covered them in shit! The idiots. From now on I’ll explain that my *answers* were not important; what was important was the fact that they had *asked* how to get to the pub. That should shut them up.

  • technicolour

    But seriously, strange multi-faceted entity, what did you mean by being a ‘truth seeker’? Do you know what truth you’re looking for?

  • MJ

    “You guys will find it instructive to visit comment boards on sites where research is valued and each point on a topic is evaluated by contributors on the basis of its validity as thinking or sustainable argument”.

    Probably true. Any links you’d recommend?

    “you seem obsessed with your own credibility and status”

    Odd remark. I don’t see any of that here, except perhaps that guy who has to post as several different people, each backing up the other.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    tony_opmoc – Yes – i meant “good”. I think what you’re getting at about the dancing (which i’m also crap at) is that no-one needs to be good at everything.

    That’s true – and i suspect there are lots of people who would make very good plumbers, carpenters or electricians and who might have gone on from those careers to take degrees in other professions who have been denied any chance because of the shortage of apprenticeships in the UK and the false idea that people are either academically inclined from the start or else stupid.

    I’m not saying most people aren’t able – but ability varies – you get geniuses like Stephen Hawking and you get people who are less intelligent than average. Education and upbringing can influence that, but a pure meritocracy would still punish people who did their best, while rewarding people who happened to be born very intelligent and very good at making money (i’m not saying a lot of people who make money don’t work hard to earn it – a lot of them do – some of them don’t)

    Glenn – I agree with everything you wrote.

    As you and Craig both point out Britain is nothing like a meritocracy. Geoff Hoon and Stephen Byers became government ministers and Blair Prime Minister – but all they’re good at is manipulation and social networking (and Hoon isnt even much good at those), but a pure meritocracy could still mean massive inequality, could still mean some people earning billions and others in poverty, could still mean over-rewarding some and punishing others.

    It might only change who is at the top of the pyramid and who is at the bottom, unless there are some safeguards to prevent anyone getting a bigger share than they could possibly need and anyone getting so little they couldn’t survive on it.

  • ObiterJ

    “The working class – much of which has no prospect of work – still clings to New Labour.”

    WHY? If you take a look at the areas which have returned Labour MPs since 1945 (and often before)they are always the most socially deprived areas of the country. So, just what has Labour done for these people?

    You really have to ask just why this appalling government stands any chance of re-election. Yet, it does. Such is the lack of connection between the Cameroons and the general public.

  • Apostate


    Are you clinically insane?

    You seem to think your place on the comment board is to interrogate all visitors under a bright light.

    Are they anti-imperialist,anti-semite,BNP etc.? They must all into line with your silly,adolescent politically correct view of the world.

    Sadly you and your pal,arsalan-our resident pop psychologists-have still not learned to think for yourselves.

    How else do we explain the repetitive recourse to lumping the real researchers here:Freeborn,Steelback et al together as one person-and then reciting a Thatcher-like mantra re-them being the enemy within/anti-Christ etc.

    Whereas the researchers’ view of the world consistently challenges official narratives re-War on Terror,911,left/right paradigm etc. you guys insist on all visitors declaring an a priori allegiance to your own absurdly adolescent naive endorsement of the such official mythologies.

    Grow up for Christ’s sake!

    The first questions I would ask in any interrogation of visitors would be:



    ARE YOU AWARE THAT SARCASM IS THE LOWEST FORM OF WIT-Only oilman need answer this one!

    Whereas because you lack the basic analytical capacity to discern where contributors are coming from you would ask such questions as:

    ARE YOU A DISINFORMATION AGENT OF EMPIRE? suhayl will ask all visitors this one at some point of his own peculiarly inept choosing!

    The question itself is revealing since it suggests a sort of undergraduate postcolonial studies school orthodoxy to which he seems to think it is mandatory for everyone else to subscribe.He sounds like Said in Culture of Imperialism writing about Kipling and Forster.

    In other words suhayl wants to ask are we politically correct when the researchers that most peturb him- because they trouble his adherence to

    the orthodoxy-have made it amply clear they are not!




    Two more favourites of Torquemarda…..sorry,suhayl.

    Now while I am not-and this will disappoint those like oilman who like to squish us all the same compartment-party to what Freeborn,Steelback et al think on all these issues-I am pretty sure that they have all made it patently clear where they stand.

    The failure to commit to any form of close reading on the part of these inquisitors can be the only possible reason for their still having to ask such facile questions.

    Didn’t Steelback tell us he was on the 2m march in February 2003? I’m pretty sure he did.He’s written quite lengthily re-how he felt,like many of us who wonder how that war went ahead,let down by the anti-war movement’s failure to denounce the 911 fraud that was used to legitimize the whole War on Terror.

    To tell a guy he’s got to come clean on his views after such a declaration of honesty must be pretty exasperating.

    Are you just thick or are you a disinformation agent of Emp…, forget I asked that one!

  • technicolour

    Helllo, apostate, good afternoon! I think Suhayl can ask whatever he’d like to ask. If you choose not to answer that’s your busness, but don’t abuse the questioner, please. By the way, of course it is true that the official BNP line is anti the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I have another question for you. When I worked in a residential care home one of the residents, a young man who often thought he was Julius Caesar, used to have one question about any new careworker. And that question was: ‘Are they nice?’. Which is, I’m sure you’ll agree, an important question about anyone, no matter how much knowledge they claim to have.

    So Apostate, ignore Suhayl if you must, but please answer Colin. Are you nice?

  • technicolour

    One of my relatives used to sell used cars; he was nice. Didn’t bully anyone, didn’t lie, didn’t cheat, didn’t hate, was in it to do a fair job for OK pay. Don’t get your point, Mr Giro.

  • MJ

    “Whereas the researchers’ view of the world consistently challenges official narratives re-War on Terror,911,left/right paradigm”

    I think you’ll find there are plenty here who agree with that and have done the same research as you.

    Who is “oilman” by the way?

  • dreoilin

    If ‘oilman’ is me, by any chance and is an attempt at a “play on words”, it fails miserably.


    I disagree, and so do many others. Those who complain that it’s the lowest form of wit are generally its victims. Who can forget Basil Fawlty?

    “What did you expect to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically …?”

    “How else do we explain the repetitive recourse to lumping the real researchers here:Freeborn,Steelback et al together as one person”

    Well, first of all there’s the content.

    Secondly, there’s your typing. I qualified as a keyboard teacher many years ago, and ended up writing for a living, so I tend to notice. I’ll put my life savings on you being one and the same person.

    But that’s what they say about trolls – that they introduce other persona to pretend that they have support.

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