Why we welcomed Jeremy Corbyn to Liverpool

Our van with which we welcomed Jeremy Corbyn to Liverpool yesterday. The truth about Labour’s shilly-shallying on Europe needs to be told.

Yesterday was an interesting day in Liverpool. Everyone will know about the vote in Parliament and the big rally but there are interesting details that have not been fully looked at. It is clear that unlike the Lib Dems the Labour Party have huge splits when it comes to the question of Brexit.

The Tories splits are most clear perhaps because they are the governing Party and, in theory, control the law-making process and the Parliamentary timetable. The one vote yesterday came on an amendment moved by a former Tory MP, Oliver Letwin, who had been chucked out of the Tories by Johnson. The former Tory mates in the DUP have been so angered by the proposals that will definitely lead to a break up of the United Kingdom that they reversed their vote and voted against the Tories.

I won’t spend a lot of time on the Tories. There is no Tory Party in Liverpool and they would never come here for a conference or gathering. But yesterday, for reasons which no-one outside the cult can understand, Labour decided to have a ‘rally’ in Liverpool on the same days as ‘Super Saturday’. Ironically, it was held in the Constituency of Louise Ellman who only 4 days before had quit the Labour Party saying that Corbyn should never be PM!

The Lib Dems decided to mark the occasion by pointing out that the Lexit proposed by Corbyn is as dangerous and daft as the Brexit proposed by Johnson. Firstly, though we have to try and ascertain what Labour policy is. It really depends on who you talk to or more importantly who is on the telly.

Yesterday Caroline Flint and 5 others Labour MPs voted against the delay. This was despite the Lib Dem MP for Wavertree, Luciana Berger, pointing out in a question in the House that the Government had published no analysis of the effects of the proposed deal. So, everyone was voting in ignorance of the facts and consequences of an agreement which most of them do not appear to have read at all.

Meanwhile 4 prominent Labour MPs including the Shadow Foreign Secretary were on a People’s Vote stage outside Parliament proclaiming that Labour is a Remain Party.  But that is not the view of all Labour MPs. It appears that up to 10 Labour MPs might vote this week in favour of the Johnson deal.

Further confusion is caused by what appears to be Corbyn’s position. He believes that he can negotiate a ‘Brexit for Jobs’ in 3 months which he could then put to the Country in a referendum. There are three clear reasons why this will not happen:

  1. The idea that any deal can be negotiated in 3 months is fatuous and wholly unrealistic. It took May more than 2 years to negotiate her deal. The only reason that Johnson could do one so quickly is that it is basically May’s deal but worse.
  2. There is no such thing as a Brexit for Jobs. Every scenario shows that if we leave the EU there will be less investment, less exports and less jobs.
  3. Corbyn’s deal is a none starter. It includes an ending to freedom of movement which is a basis of the EU. There won’t even be a preliminary conversation if this demand is left in.

At the end of the day then there is little difference between the Corbyn position and that of Johnson. Both will lead to less jobs, less taxes coming in, less investment in housing, schools and the NHS. Travel for individuals and goods will become more difficult and the cost of imports and holidays abroad will rise.

Yet meanwhile back in Liverpool Wavertree it would appear that both the shortlisted candidates fighting to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate believe in Corbyn’s unicorn.

We expect Tories not to be bothered about such matters. Their leaders are insulated from such concerns by their wealth. Basically, they can buy anything they want and many of them will make a profit by speculating against the £ and against British business.

Labour should know better and most of them do. The Labour Group on the Council, led by Joe Anderson, has clearly supported both a Remain position and a People’s Vote. They know as the Lib Dems do that any Brexit is a bad thing. That any Brexit will hit hardest at the poorest in our society who have the greatest need for high quality public services.

That is why we wanted to expose for the people of Liverpool to see that what local Labour councillors and MPs say locally is not the policy of those that lead Labour. Luciana Berger before leaving the Labour Party and Louise Ellman before leaving the Labour Party and Stephen Twigg and Angela Eagle who are still in the Labour Party are all Remain MPs fighting a battle in the Labour Party against their own Leader whose policy on Brexit will devastate Liverpool.

Our position as Lib Dems is absolutely clear. We want to tie any deal agreed by Parliament to a People’s Vote to either accept that deal or Remain. If that does not happen before a General Election, we will include in our manifesto a commitment to Revoke Article 50. If we get enough MPs that will be the mandate for delivering an ‘Exit from Brexit’.

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Liverpool Labour becomes a tragic Soap Opera!

Dame Louise Ellman is leaving the soap opera which is Liverpool Labour Party. Even someone tried to sell it as a storyline in Corrie they would be laughed out of the room.

Well what a day it was in Liverpool yesterday for the Labour Party. All seemed normal (for Liverpool Labour that is!) when the Council meeting started at 5 p.m.

The first thing that was instantly noticeable was that more than one third of Labour Councillors simply were not present. Why they absented themselves I do not know. All Lib Dems and Greens were there and two out of the three Liberal members. There are always some members missing. I will miss the next meeting because of LGA duties but to have more than one third of the Group missing which means almost one third of the Council is both unprecedented and unacceptable.

Then the Liverpool Echo found out first that both Cllr Kushner had not made it on to the West Derby shortlist and then some time later that Cllr Parsons had not made it on to the Wavertree short list. Their faces were grim for the remainder of the meeting. It has rapidly become clear that if you want to progress in the Labour Party in Liverpool you must not be a supporter of Mayor Anderson.

Now it’s seems likely that the candidates in both seats which are now dominated by Momentum will be extreme left MPs who believe in the Unicorn of a Brexit for Jobs. In fact, one seems to believe in Brexit full stop with an attack on the EU as a capitalist conspiracy!

Then I was attacked by Cllr George Knibb for laughing at the suggestion that he made about how life will be better when Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister. As part of the Corbyn cult he just cannot recognise that Corbyn is the most unpopular opposition leader on record. Corbyn is loathed by a majority of his own MPs and Peers and is not popular now with the majority of his own Party.  At that point in the evening Corbyn already had 11 MPs less than he did in 2017.

Not many people know much about Cllr Knibb’s background. George was the Leader of the ‘Ward Labour’ Party in Liverpool. This was a small group of councillors who were the remnants of the Militant Tendency in the 1980s. They clung on with a few seats until they were finally disposed off in the all-up elections of 2004 when there were boundary changes. Cllr Knibb and his ilk used to loathe the Labour Party under Tony Blair but have happily returned to it under Corbyn.

But the big bombshell came right at the end of the Council meetings as news began to filter through that Louise Ellman had left the Labour Party after 55 years for 45 of which she had been an elected representative in either Lancashire or Liverpool. She became the 12th MP to decamp from the Corbyn tent.

It would be hard to imagine a more forceful condemnation of a Patty’s Leader by one of their own members.

What anguish must have gripped her as she came to that decision. I did briefly consider leaving our Party in the early coalition years so I know the sorts of things that she must have been thinking. I have known Louise for many years not only as a Liverpool MP but also as the Leader of Lancashire County Council as she was before she came to Liverpool. I have always respected her and over the last 3 years have shared a platform with her on many occasions as we have both fought the Remain corner as we know how bad it will be for the people of Liverpool.

She has been driven out because of the takeover of what was once a broad church democratic socialist Party which has become a closed cult extreme left Party. She has three things which are unacceptable to many in the Cult. She is Jewish, she is a woman and she is intelligent. Any of those would rule her out in the Liverpool Labour Party – all three and there is no room for her.

Funnily enough those are exactly the same points which caused so much animosity for Luciana Berger and which drove her out of the Labour Party earlier this year. Luciana completed her journey to the Lib Dems whilst Louise is leaving politics. Politics in Liverpool will be much weaker without their championship of our City. It looks as though Luciana will continue to be elected in her new London constituency but Louise will be a permanent loss.

So that leaves the Liberal Democrats as the only credible opposition to the Momentum Party in Liverpool. Momentum have swept all before them in the Labour Party and now expect to do the same at local and General Elections.

Lib Dems will do our utmost to prevent this from happening. In a Remain city where our relationship with Europe is the key issue no matter what happens on Saturday, we will continue to battle for Europe against the prejudices of the far left and the far right.

We are in discussions with the national Party about the enhanced support we may now get because of the state of the Labour Party in the City. We are in discussions within the City with a range of organisations who cannot stomach the thought of leaving our City to be represented by a confrontational cult-like body. It took us 20 years to recover the last time that happened in the City with ‘Militant’ councillors like George Knibb and Militant MPs like Terry Harrison.

I am our Parliamentary Candidate for Wavertree and Rob McAlister-Bell is the Parliamentary Candidate for Riverside. We and our colleagues in the other three Constituencies will give Labour one hell of a fight up to, during and after the General Election whenever it might be but we could do with some help. Come and join us and work with us for a better Liverpool and a better UK. You can join us at www.libdems.org.uk/join-local. Like many before you over the past 3 years you will find a new family and new friendships and a comradely bunch of people who have no personal ambition but a passionate desire to fight for liberal democracy in our City.

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Where do the Parties Stand on Brexit?

Luciana Berger MP was one of the thousands of people who have left the Labour and Tory Parties to join Jo Swinson’s Lib Dems. With the Lib Dems you know what you are voting for. we believe that the UK’s best interests are to be had by staying in the EU

As we approach the crucial votes on Saturday over our future with Europe, I have tried to sum up for myself where the main English Parties stand on the issue. I omit Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland not because of indifference but because I do not have the requisite knowledge. Apart, that is, from the fact that our sister Party in Northern Ireland, Alliance, is as pro EU as we are.

The picture is very confusing as only two of the main Parties (in opinion poll terms) are united on this issue. So, let’s see what the position is. They are in alphabetical order:

The Brexit Party. No ambiguity here. As the name suggest they believe in out under any circumstances although it is very clear that many of them have no idea what ‘Out’ means. I listened to a Brexiteer say that the obvious answer is to bring back the British Empire. How we are to subjugate more than 3 billion people is beyond his and my comprehension. They have a devil may care attitude to Leave. When told that it will lead to job losses and deaths because of medicine shortages and staff shortages in the NHS they shrug their shoulders and say, “it’s a price worth paying”. I hope it’s their medicine that runs out first!

The Conservative & Unionist Party. Here the picture is much more problematic. It is clear that most of the MPs are Leavers in one way or another. But that is now largely because either the Remainers have either left (3 have joined our Party) or were expelled. Similarly, with the membership. The Party has been cleansed of Remainers who have either just given up or have joined us in their thousands. We are not entirely sure what the deal being negotiated is but it seems fairly clear that it will lead quickly to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland leaving the UK in devolution/Independence deals. This means that a theoretical pro-Union Party will be leading the charge to become an English rump. What’s left of the Tory Party can best be described as Brexit-lite!

Green Party. Very largely in favour although of their two members of Parliament the one in the House of Lords, Baroness Jones, is a Leaver!

Labour Party. Well they are in a right mess. There are huge differences between what the members want (as expressed at Party Conference); what most MPs want (as expressed both in meetings of the Parliamentary Party and increasingly in the press; and what Corbyn and his close-knit allies want. Most MPs and Party members want to Remain. They believe that the right way forward is a People’s Vote in which their will be the chance to vote for whatever deal has been negotiated or to Remain. Most of these want Remain to be the option in their manifesto if a General Election is held before a People’s Vote.

However, their Leader believes that he can go to Brussels, negotiate a ‘Brexit for Jobs’ within three months and then push that deal through Parliament. This is a naive or dishonest approach. No deal can be had if the first thing that Corbyn wants is the end of Freedom of Movement which, together with Freedom of Capital, is one of the basic tenets of the EU.

Some go even further than this and just believe that the UK should accept any deal that comes along.

Liberal Democrats. Dead easy this one. We want to Remain. We want there to be an immediate People’s vote on either to accept a deal or to Remain on the present terms. If that is not held before a General Election, we will campaign for a Remain vote. If we get enough MPs with the democratic mandate we have been given we will Revoke Article 50 immediately

What’s going to happen now? Who knows! On Super Saturday being held at the end of this week there are just so many possible permutations and so many mavericks. In theory a united opposition should be able to easily defeat the Government who now have a majority of -43!

Can Corbyn stop 21 Labour MPs supporting Johnson. Can Johnson stop the DUP voting against if he is throwing NI into some vague Customs Union? How will the Independent Tory MPs who were expelled vote? How will the MPs who left Labour to sit as Independents vote? What is the deal that they will be asked to vote on? What amendments will the Speaker allow to be tabled?

The Brexit debate will not stop this Thursday. If the UK does leave on 31st October or at any other time the discussion about the new treaties, relationships and legislation will go on for at least another 5 years. If Brexit is stopped and Article 50 revoked there will be a confidence back in our Partners and our businesses but some will feel cheated.

What a mess this Country is in. In just three short years international respect for our Country has shrunk to almost none-existence. The Mother of Parliaments has moved to a state which might be described as acute mental ill health if it was a description of the behaviour of a person. Allegations are thrown around; money is spent at will, there is no direction, some people’s minds seem to change with astonishing regularity.

Worst of all too many of the considerations that are in politician’s minds are not what is best for my Country but what is best for Me and my Party.

Quite frankly we all deserve far, far better than that.

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Change sterile grass areas into wildflower havens

Plantlife has produced an excellent guide to improving our environment by improving our grass verges

My colleague, Cllr Mirna Juarez, has tabled a motion to the first meeting of the Climate Change Select Committee of Liverpool Council asking for a review of all grass verges and spaces between dual carriageways in Liverpool, with a view to making them wildflower havens.

Cllr Juarez points out in her motion that this has three main benefits. Firstly, it makes areas more attractive, secondly, it saves money with less frequent grass cutting and thirdly it creates a haven for pollinating and other insects.

There is increasingly strong evidence that nice green and planted areas are very good for both physical and mental health. More greens calms people and encourages a positivity within their lives as well as attracting dangerous pollutants from the air.

Cutting the grass twice a year instead of 6 or 7 times saves cash which can used for other environmental activity.

Strips of wild flowers increase the number of insects, especially pollinating ones, that are vital for our parks, allotments, gardens and other green spaces.

As Cllr Juarez says this is the sixth motion that Liberal Democrat Councillors have tabled to the Climate Change Select Committee which has yet to meet. On July 17th the Council unanimously agreed to declare a climate change emergency and establish 4 different areas of action. It appointed a Climate Change Cabinet Member and established a new climate change select committee.

Since then absolutely nothing appears to have happened and we have to ask, “was the Council meeting and motion a complete waste of time?” The clock is ticking for climate change and the Council needs to take urgent action not just say the right words.

Cllr Juarez and the Lib Dem team would love to hear from you about areas where wildflower planting can be encouraged in your area. Contact her at 07954 434476 or at mirna.juarez@liverlibdems.org.uk

An excellent organisation called Plantlife has produced a whole series of resources to encourage the greater planting of wildflowers including the publication pictured above. They can be contacted at enquiries@plantlife.org.uk

This is the full motion to the Committee

Motion to the Climate Change Select Committee

Cllr Mirna Juarez

Encouraging the seeding of verges and main roads

This committee notes that there are many main roads in Liverpool with grassed areas to either a central reservation or roadside or both.

It requests the officers to undertake a review of all roads with a view to ensuring that grass cutting is reduced to twice wherever possible and areas seeded with wildflowers subject to the maintenance of satisfactory sight lines for drivers and pedestrians.

It believes that this approach will save the Council money, improve bio-diversity, provide better areas for pollinating insects and add to the charm and visual amenity of many of our main thoroughfares.

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Why do some people hate ‘Love Wavertree’?

This shows how low Wavertree Labour Party has sunk. Instead of calling into question one of their councillors for misogynistic bullying they summon a hard working councillor to account for the work she is doing in her community.

In September I attended a great event in Wavertree High Street when the road was closed (perfectly legally!) and the community took over the space for 6 hours. Everyone who was there seemed to enjoy it. Some local traders including the shops and bars on the High Street made some money; community groups let people know what they did for the community; local kids performed; there was live music and good food.

This wasn’t a venture that I can take any credit for. I tacitly supported it because part of my Ward thinks of itself as being ‘Wavertree’. I attended the first meeting and was impressed but that was it. I and my fellow Lib Dems tweeted and expressed support in a variety of ways and turned up to support the day.

Party politics was kept out of it with the exception of some pan bangers from Wavertree Labour Party who had one of their interminable protests at the roundabout at the end of the High Street. Always a stupid gesture made even more so as there were no cars at all passing them. I met and chatted to many councillors of all Parties who attend parts of the event and we all agreed that it was a good event and that we ought to try and emulate it in our own wards.

The events before during and since have been led by an informal group of volunteers who are making a huge effort in their own time and with scant resources to enhance the community spirit in that area. One councillor in particular, Clare McIntyre is, correctly, using her position as a councillor to bring together the public and voluntary sectors and the community to combine their strengths and opportunities in an innovative way. There are very few people who do not believe that in this context she has done a good job.

However, there are some who want to snipe from the side-lines. Sadly, most of these are from her own Party.

You can see from the picture above that some of the North Koreans in the Wavertree Labour Party (AKA the saucepan bangers) don’t believe that what is going on is above board. They are demanding that the Cllrs for Wavertree account to them for what is going on.

There are three problems with this line of attack on Cllr McIntyre:

  1. If they did spend time on doing things in the community and supporting one of their local councillors they would know all the answers to the questions they ask.
  • Councillors do not answer to their Party for things like this but to their electors. The Political Party exists to get people of like mind elected not to act as gauleiters supervising their work.
  • This is what councillors are supposed to do. Although because of the nature of my role as Group Leader I spend more time on ‘politics’ than most the vast majority of my work as a councillor is non-political. It is the job of all of us to work within our communities and bring the community and public sector closer together.

If a motion had been put down to a Lib Dem meeting on a subject such as this it would not be censorial but congratulatory in tone.

Not everyone who objected was from within the Labour Party. Others objected because it made minor difficulties as they carried out their business especially with movement around that part of Wavertree. I know that the organisers went out of their way to minimise disruption and let people know in advance about the road closure and associated events.

I have to say to the few people who got upset because they were delayed for a few minutes that so many people gained from the event, probably in the thousands, that their sacrifice should be considered by them to be worthwhile.

Even if the Council and other parts of the public sector had all the money they needed to provide everything that they wanted to do, they could not run an idea/organisation like ‘Love Wavertree’. The public sector cannot create communities or even community spirit. Our role as a Council is to support communities and the people that lead them to bring the community together and establish a framework of care and compassion which leads to a better feeling of inclusion within neighbourhoods.

The motto on the ‘badge’ on the Town Hall, which is the one of the former Wavertree Council which was absorbed into Liverpool in 1895, is ‘sub umbra floresco’ which translated from Latin means under the trees we flourish. Many of the trees might have gone but Wavertree can and will flourish if we all back those trying to make it better. Sniping from the side-lines might satisfy some malevolent souls in the Wavertree CLP but it won’t create the better society that most of us want.

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Council urged to tackle food waste which costs average Liverpool family £500 a year

This food waste won’t go to waste. It’s in our compost bin and will create compost which means that we won’t need to but peat to fill our tubs and borders.

Liverpool Lib Dems are taking the climate change emergency seriously. Although the Council has failed to call a meeting of the Climate Change Select Committee to establish a work programme our Lib Dem team has been at work looking at environmental projects in our own wards and considering policy requirements for the city as a whole. We have already tabled three motions to the Select Committee for whenever it meets. We have also appointed Cllr Kris Brown as our spokesperson on the Committee and agreed with the Mayor that he will take responsibility for the recycling and waste agendas.

We have now tabled a fourth motion to the committee and are urging the Council to have a full look at the massive problem of food waste. Councillor, Malcolm Kelly, is urging Liverpool City Council to fight food waste in the city which is costing the average Liverpool family £500 a year and which causes major environmental problems.

Cllr Kelly says, “Research from Friends of the Earth shows that about one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. Of course, some of that waste comes about long before food reaches the City with poor warehousing and transportation. But the fact that we throw away so much food means that it hits our pockets hard, costs money to dump in landfill and then it causes environmental problems with discharged into the environment.

If the Council is really serious about climate change this is a major problem that it can tackle. If we all buy less and then use everything we buy we’ll save money and the planet. The Council should work with retailers, chefs, community groups to encourage better buying and more imaginative uses for food and then what is left over should be either composted or used to create energy with a separate collection system”.

The Full motion to the Climate change can be seen here. If you have any more ideas about food waste or any other environmental idea contact Cllr Kelly at Malcolm.kelly@liverpool.gov.uk

Reduction in Food Waste in Liverpool

Motion to the Climate Change Committee

Eradication of food waste

This committee notes that food waste in all areas from production to consumption and the none-consumption of food is a huge waste of money and environmental resource.

It notes the statements from Friends of the Earth that:

“We waste about a third of all food produced for human consumption

This wasted food has taken loads of fresh water, land and labour to produce. If it were a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

But we keep throwing perfectly good food away. Over 10 million tons of food are binned every year in the UK”.

It also notes that wasted food would appear from the above statements to cost the average Liverpool family up to £500 a year and that the waste food involves huge amounts of waste packaging and damaging pollution at land fill sites.

It therefore requests the establishment of a task and finish group composed of:

  • Environment and retailing experts from our Universities.
  • Representatives of retail companies
  • Representatives of consumer groups
  • Councillors
  • Chefs from local businesses

to:

  • Review every part of the food chain within the City and seek ways of reducing food waste at each point.
  • Review and discourage the marketing techniques such as ’bog offs’ which are one of the root causes of food waste.
  • Require all edible food waste to be offered to hungry people either fee of charge or at low cost.
  • Examining the potential for waste food to be composted or used to generate energy

Cllr Malcolm Kelly

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson – The new symbol for a new Liverpool?

The flag is, of course, the flag of our nation. But more important than being British or English Katarina Johnson-Thompson is a Scouser!!

I woke up this morning and was delighted to hear the stupendous results of Katarina Johnson-Thompson is winning gold in the World Championships last night. Others were even more excited. I understand that Joe Anderson stayed up to watch the final parts of the event.

The heptathlon, as its name suggests combines seven events

To become World Champion Katarina gave personal best performances in 4 of them in Doha.

I believe that Katarina embodies all the best attributes of Liverpool today.

She comes from an ethnic minority background at a time when the Council has elected its first BME Lord Mayor. What great proof that Liverpool is really the “World in one City”

She has overcome difficulty after difficulty but never gave up. That’s Liverpool all over. We have had a lot thrown at us over the past 100 years but we’re still here and still fighting!

She embraced European help to ensure that she won so her medal is a combination of efforts from people from a number of nations. Proof of what the vast majority of us in Liverpool say that we are a major European City and we will get the best from our City if we work together with our European partners.

She won as we are all determined that Liverpool should do. We can become the first Council to encourage the Government to radically the alter the way that the public sector does business. We can become the best council for fighting climate change. The Council has united on a cross-Party basis on both these vital issues.

One of our most famous monuments is ‘Liverpool Resurgent’ on the former Lewis’ Building. Otherwise known, of course, as Dicky Lewis. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if a strong young woman Scouser of Africa Descent became the new face of a resurgent Liverpool?

Finally, she is a sports person and could provide a huge encouragement to young people in our City to similarly get involved. Sport can be fun and massively improves your physical and mental health. Not everyone can be a World Champion, but we can all take up a stretching physical challenge and help ourselves by doing so. The 2012 London Olympics were great in themselves but failed to leave much, if any, of a sporting legacy. Liverpool can do better than that.

I don’t want to take things forward by suggesting that we create a fund to build a statue.  I do think that there some more practical things that the Council could do both to honour her achievements.

We could work with Sports England to set up a training programme to support young athletes in Liverpool emulate her greatness. Katarina has had huge family support in addition to her own resilience and guts. Not every would-be champion has that support. Training, going to amateur tournaments etc is very expensive and not everyone can find that financial support. What can we do to help?

We should also consider either admitting her to the role of Citizen of Honour or award her the Freedom of the City not only in tribute to her but as a sign that Liverpool is on the move. That will send out a huge positive message about the forward-looking nature of our City and many of the people who come from it.

These are my thoughts. You might have more and better ones! Let me know as ever at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk

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