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George Osbourne wants a third runway at Heathrow. Good for him but could we have another super-airport instead?

So it seems that George Osbourne is a supporter of a third runway at Heathrow airport which isn’t exactly the biggest shock in the world. It does shock me as to why this issue has become so big but who am I to argue with the media bandwagon?

First of all Tim Yeo’s position that the third runway is of such vital importance that he questioned whether the PM was a man or a mouse was exciting until it came out that he had a horse in this race that would mean that any third runway would probably be financially beneficial for the aforementioned MP. And some people wonder why the electorate think that MPs are all just in for it for what they can get…

Sadly some are but not all of them. I hold that point of view dear and don’t see them all as pigs snuffling about in their own troughs. One of those who seemingly isn’t is Zac Goldsmith who won the Richmond Park seat for the Tories in 2010 who today has let it be known that if the Tories officially backed the third runway then he wouldn’t be able to stand by that and therefore would not defend him seat. Of course he could stand as an independent or as a candidate for another party – if Richard Morris is right it’ll be UKIP – but in a way it is nice to see someone take a stance that they wouldn’t back something to such a degree that they wouldn’t stand under that banner.

I have no idea what the economic fallout is regarding whether Heathrow has a third runway or not. All I know is that more direct flights between London and the rest of the world is apparently a good thing. However in this day and age I don’t understand why expansion in aviation is important as the internet age is hear and people can communicate very easily via the world wide web. A friend of mine is being flown out to Washington DC tomorrow morning and flying back late tomorrow night. So a trip to the USA for a two-hour meeting and then turning round and coming straight back home. What is the point?

I know face-to-face meetings are the best way forward but the speed at which technology is evolving means that by any time that the third runway gets completed then communications will be a further 10-15 years along and look at how we communicated 10-15 years ago and you wonder where exactly we’ll be in 15 years.

Having said that though The Independent on Sunday are reporting that a world-leading infrastructure firm is looking into sites to build a brand new four-runway airport within thirty minutes of London. So we might not see a third runway at Heathrow but we might get a brand new super-airport with four runways. Not exactly sure the Lib Dems will be delighted by this but it is just a feasibility study at the moment and could rival the so called ‘Boris Island’ idea.

So all in all the aviation industry is both in a state of flex but also frozen – something that is really quite impressive. With the coalition in place no new runways are being built in the South East but come May 2015 the political landscape could be very different and if it is different then more air travel is all but inevitable – the big question is where would it be and whose house prices are going to crash.

Still come tomorrow no-one will care about this as the reshuffle will happen and unless Justine Greening is replaced by someone who is desperate to get a move on and David Cameron wants to throw the coalition agreement out of the window then this is a moot story for the next three years. Still a fun one to muse over though…

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Nadine Dorries leads (or at the very least significantly influences) some Lib Dem activists thoughts

Nadine will love that headline but it is true. Yesterday Nick Clegg decided that enough was enough and he had to make a stand against the Tories for not pushing through with Lords reform. The Prime Minister couldn’t control his party and therefore the dreams of a more democratic way forward. Most Lib Dems agree this isn’t the worst thing ever but there is one thing that has got people foaming at the mouth…

Nadine Dorries’ seat of Mid Bedfordshire will still exist.

Now we all know that a parliament without Nadine Dorries is probably a good thing. However is this really that important in the grand scheme of things? I sat here yesterday and saw Lib Dems on twitter bitch and moan about Dorries and how she’d survive and that it pissed them off. It pisses us all off but some were actually saying that we should carry on with the boundary changes just to get Dorries out.

Surely that is going a bit too far? Dorries would be delighted that she is despised so much that a section of Lib Dems (a not insignificant section) would actually want boundary changes to go through just to get her out. Of course it would also mean tat many Lib Dems would also lose their seat but that is just acceptable collateral damage to get Nadine out.

The other thing is of course that Nadine could possibly stand in another seat. Now I’m no rocket scientist but I’m pretty sure people can be selected to represent another ward. No doubt there would be several local Conservative Party associations who’d love to have such an outspoken Member of Parliament. Some of these might even have been safe Tory seats in the boundary review with incumbants retiring.

The boundary changes would not have meant the end of Nadine Dorries’ career as an MP. It would have made it less plain sailing but if she wanted to carry on she could have easily found a way. I’m as much of a Nadine dissenter as most of my fellow Lib Dems but in the grand schemes of things who really gives a stuff about what she says? She is an insignificant Tory backbench MP who gets more airtime than most because she’s controversial.

Boundary changes are a good idea but as presently constituted they weren’t ideal. Although I suppose getting them ideal would be a thankless nay impossible task. However having another voting system – maybe STV or maybe even PR would make everything a whole lot fairer but that isn’t happening. It is sad that we haven’t been able to deliver fairer votes but the country decided they didn’t want them because they were in a strop with the Lib Dems for not just being an ‘anti-Tory’ party. Shit happens.

However having a policy that is basically ‘Do watever to piss off Nadine Dorries’ whilst it sounds a lot of fun, isn’t exactly the sign of a grown-up party…

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Nick Clegg has a pair of bollocks – fires shots at the Tories – finally disproves that he is a closet Tory?

No doubt by now you’ll have read that House of Lords Reform has been ‘paused’ to use Nick Clegg’s terminology. Also as part of this the Lib Dems will not be backing the boundary review. It is a bit tit for tat but I suppose that is part of coalition politics. To read Nick Clegg’s statement in full you can do so here.

So anyway what did I read from his statement? Well mostly that Nick Clegg despite what every single Labour supporter says with such vindication – Nick Clegg isn’t actually a Tory. I know it’s hard to swallow and that these people may have to grow up and actually work on things like policies instead of lazy political insults but if Clegg was actually a Tory he wouldn’t do things that you know – the Tories don’t want him to do. It is like he is the leader of another party. Wait a minute…

Yes Clegg has gone a bit tit for tat but the important thing is he has clearly said the the Tories are the one that have broken the coalition agreement – and he is right. This is something that we can’t use enough on the front line. The Lib Dems entered into a coalition in the national interest and both sides signed off on the coalition agreement. However the Tories have decided that they don’t like something therefore won’t follow through with it despite saying that they would. Naughty, naughty…

Also another thing has come out of this. The Lib Dem leader can control his party whereas his Tory counterpart could not. I don’t think this is something that should be overlooked. Cameron was fully behind House of Lords Reform and he was unable to get enough of his backbench MPs to back the idea. They didn’t want change and dug their heels in and that was that.

Nick Clegg even offered a referendum on Lords Reform on election day in 2015. This would have minimised the cost and done what a lot of people wanted in letting the people decide of these proposals but that wasn’t accepted.

Now I back House of Lords Reform but I must say as written these proposals weren’t exactly screaming out to me. I didn’t think it was the greatest bill ever to be put in front of parliament but there was room to make adjustments to it. The thing was the backbench Tories were just never going to go for it – in any guise – and that left the bill dead in the water. All parties kinda want House of Lords Reform but the big two know that any changes might loosen their traditional power and as everyone has said many times before – Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas.

Things brings us on to boundary changes. I actually back the idea of boundary changes in principle. I do think that MPs should represent roughly equal amount of constituents. However I also note that places like the Isle of Wight cannot be tacked on to Portsmouth or the New Forest. Here in Southend for example the boundary review would have taken Leigh and West Leigh away from Southend on a parliamentary level but those wards would still be part of Southend Council. Madness. So the boundary review wasn’t perfect but a good idea in principle but there were genuine issues. A bit like the House of Lords Reform Bill I suppose.

So now neither of these are going through at this juncture and as presently constituted. I’m not distraught over either. I want both but both have too many issues for me as it stands. However I am happy that Nick Clegg has both found his dangly bits between his legs and not laid over and let the Tories blow raspberries on his tummy. I am lso happy that he is not considering leaving the coalition over the issue. He (and the party) remain committed to the coalition and when all is said and done the Lib Dems 2015 result is related to the economy. Leaving the coalition now with the economy not flourishing would be a suicidal move. The old adage that Bill Clinton’s team reiterated many a time to Bill was ‘it’s the economy stupid’ and that was true in 1992 and it is still true in 2012.

People will not vote en masse in 2015 over whether boundary changes got through or whether the House of Lords are reformed or not. In general people care about the economy, public services and taxes. That is the bread and butter of people’s lives – everything else is just filling.

The coalition can survive and I fully expect the Lib Dems to continue to try and make it work. As for whether the Tories will I do not know but even though publicly it may look like the Lib Dems were defeated on this, it should also show that they won’t be walked over. If the Tories don’t want something then they can stamp their feet and beat their chests and it won’t become law. However if the Lib Dems don’t want something then they can do that as well – we have finally realised this. It may be too late for many people but better late than never.

Being in coalition was never going to be easy and at times we have been naive in the extreme. However we are learning fast and politics as we all sadly know isn’t all sweetness and light. So many people are in parliament are stuck in their ways and doing things differently will take time – a lot of time. Slowly the Lib Dems are wising up and hopefully this event has shown that they can stand up to the Tories on an issue and they can be as stubborn as their coalition partners and if they do – they can’t be beaten.

In 2010 the Tories didn’t win the General Election. Some of their MPs should remember this. Those pesky Lib Dems are the reason you get anything through in parliament at all. That is the way it is and without the Lib Dems then nothing happens. When the backbench MPs realise this then everything will be hunk-a-dory. Until that happens though stalemate can happen. Nick Clegg has showed that he won’t be walked over and do everything the Tories want and whilst House of Lords Reform being paused hurts, the fact that Nick Clegg showed he has a pair of bollocks softens the blow – a lot.

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Nick Clegg’s Statement on House of Lords Reform in full

Nick Clegg’s statement on House of Lords Reform. My thoughts to follow. I however expect people care more about what Nick said than what I think but ho hum…

I support an elected House of Lords because I believe that those who make the laws of the land should be elected by those who have to obey the laws of the land. That is democracy – and it is what people rightly expect from their politics in the 21st Century.

When the Liberal Democrats came into Government, I knew that creating a democratic Lords would not be straightforward. This cause has long been blocked by an establishment resistant to change and by the vested interests who benefit from maintaining the power of political patronage, while keeping the power of people out.

However, Lords reform was in each party’s manifesto. It was written into the Coalition Agreement – without argument or controversy. And I had hoped that, with enough compromise and cross-party involvement we could build a consensus delivering it once and for all.

After the election I convened cross-party talks. The Government then published a draft bill and white paper with a clear commitment from myself and the Prime Minister to hold the first elections to the Lords in 2015.

We then established a joint committee, of both Houses, to scrutinise our proposals. We amended the Bill once the Joint Committee reported – taking on the majority of their changes. And, last month, in a historic vote an overwhelming majority of MPs backed an elected House of Lords during the Bill’s second reading.

However, despite these painstaking efforts the Labour party and Conservative backbenchers united to block any further progress, preventing government from securing a timetable motion without which the Bill effectively becomes impossible to deliver.

At that point, the Prime Minister said he needed more time, over the summer, to persuade his MPs and I, of course, agreed to that reasonable request. Unfortunately, the PM has confirmed to me, since then, that an insufficient number of his MPs have been persuaded to support the Bill.

In my discussions with the Labour Party leadership, they have made it clear that: while they continue to back Lords reform in principle. They are set on blocking it in practice.

Supporting the ends, but – when push comes to shove – obstructing the means.

I invited Ed Miliband to propose the number of days that Labour believe is necessary for consideration of the Bill. He declined to do so. Instead he confirmed Labour would only support individual closure motions – which could bog down parliament for months.

Regrettably Labour is allowing short-term political opportunism to thwart longterm democratic change.

So, after a long process – almost two and a half years – we do not have the Commons majority needed to ensure this Bill progresses through Parliament. It is obvious that the Bill’s opponents would now seek to inflict on it a slow death: ensuring Lords reform consumes an unacceptable amount of parliamentary time.

Clearly, it would be wrong for me to allow Parliament to be manipulated in this way not least at a time when there is so much else for us to concentrate on.

So I can confirm today that we do not intend to proceed with the Bill in this parliament. The government will make a full statement on this – to parliament – as soon as it returns in September.

To modernisers and campaigners, let me say this: I am as disappointed as you that we have not delivered an elected Lords this time around. But Lords Reform has always been a case of two steps forward, one step back.

And my hope is that we will return to it, in the next Parliament emboldened by the overwhelming vote in favour of our Bill at second reading.

An unelected House of Lords flies in the face of democratic principles and public opinion. It makes a mockery of our claim to be the mother of all democracies. And – even if you put all of that to one side – the ever increasing size of the Lords makes it an unsustainable chamber. It cannot keep growing; reform cannot be forever ducked.

As you know, an elected House of Lords was part of the Coalition Agreement: a fundamental part of the contract that keeps the coalition parties working together in the national interest.

A contract not just to each other, but a set of commitments we have made, collectively, to the British people.

My party has held to that contract even when it meant voting for things that we found difficult. The Liberal Democrats are proving ourselves to be a mature and competent party of Government and I am proud that we have met our obligations.

But the Conservative party is not honouring the commitment to Lords reform and, as a result, part of our contract has now been broken.

Clearly I cannot permit a situation where Conservative rebels can pick and choose the parts of the contract they like, while Liberal Democrat MPs are bound to the entire agreement.

Coalition works on mutual respect; it is a reciprocal arrangement, a two-way street. So I have told the Prime Minister that when, in due course, parliament votes on boundary changes for the 2015 election I will be instructing my party to oppose them.

When part of a contract is broken, it is normal to amend that contract in order then to move on.

Lords reform and boundaries are two, separate parliamentary bills but they are both part of a package of overall political reform. Delivering one but not the other would create an imbalance – not just in the Coalition Agreement, but also in our political system.

Lords reform leads to a smaller, more legitimate House of Lords. Boundary changes lead to a smaller House of Commons, by cutting the number of MPs. If you cut the number of MPs without enhancing the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Lords all you have done is weaken parliament as a whole, strengthen the executive and its overmighty government that wins.

So, for these reasons, I have decided, reluctantly to push the pause button on these controversial parliamentary reforms.

Throughout this process my aim has always been too honour the Coalition Agreement in full – no more, no less. I stood ready – and stand ready – to deliver reforms that are controversial for my party because that is part of a wider, reciprocal arrangement.

That is why, for instance, in a last ditch attempt to keep both sides of the bargain intact, I suggested a solution that would have allowed us to progress with both reforms: a referendum on Lords Reform on election day in 2015, with first elections to the Lords taking place in 2020, while deferring boundary changes to 2020 too.

That would have been in keeping with the Coalition Agreement – in which neither policy had a set timetable. But this offer was not accepted.

So we must now restore balance to the Coalition Agreement, allowing us to draw a line under these events and get on with the rest of our Programme for Government.

My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I remain focused on the urgent task that brought the Coalition together: rescuing, repairing and rebalancing our economy.

And, just as we are determined that this Government delivers economic reform, we are determined to deliver social renewal too.

There are many things that brought me into politics. Many things which animate my party: political reform is one. A fairer tax system is another. Internationalism. The environment. Civil liberties.

But the thing I care about most – the central purpose of the Liberal Democrats in this government – is to build a fairer society. A more socially mobile society, where a person’s opportunities do not depend on the circumstances of their birth, where every individual has the chance to flourish.

We will continue with that critical work. We will continue to anchor this government firmly in the centre ground.

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David Cameron has dumped House of Lords Reform. Don’t panic, Don’t panic, Don’t panic!

It’s over folks. The House of Lords will stay as it is and the Lib Dems have been shafted worse than contestants on Robert Kilroy-Silk’s game-show ‘To share or to shaft.’ Yes a report in the Telegraph this evening says the PM can’t talk around his backbenchers and therefore is giving up. This is the same newspaper that wrote a genuine piece about the perceived ‘Curse of Cameron’ with regards to his witnessing of sporting events led to the lack of Gold medals. It is so dumb that I was going to just blog on that. Now I’m doing a bit of a mix and match and meshing the two blog posts together.

House of Lords Reform is important to the Lib Dems. The other two parties say it is important to them but deep down they couldn’t give a crap as they know that for the foreseeable future only they can run the government. Turkey’s as they say don’t vote for Christmas and one thing we know about politicians is many of them care more about themselves and getting re-elected than they do about representing their constituents. It is one of the reasons so many councillors switch sides. It’s pathetic but heck it is just the way it is.

So anyway if the report is accurate, which is not a given. Then House of Lords Reform goes and no doubt the boundaries will not be changed as the Lib Dems would be pissed and scupper that. Isn’t coalition politics great? The Tories are the big powerful voice but they have a problem that deep down they can’t get over. That they didn’t win an election victory outright and their backbench MPs just can’t get over that. They’ll rejoice they scuppered the Lords reform and then they’ll whine about the ‘insignificant’ Lib Dems not doing everything that they want them to do.

It is ‘hilarious’ – it really is. Clearly that is sarcastic. The whole working together thing isn’t the norm in this country and it is no surprise that these issues have arisen. I expected it earlier. I think most of us expected it earlier in all honesty but we’ll see what happens. The Tories might be paying a larger price than boundaries not being changed. Imagine if the price of scuppering Lords Reform is Vince Cable replacing George Osbourne as Chancellor? I know it is highly unlikely but heck we don’t know what it will play out, if as I said earlier the report is correct.

Everyone is foaming at the mouth on twitter. Well I say everyone I should say instead a lot of people are foaming at the mouth over this. One newspaper report gets everyone going when there are very little facts to go on and even if the facts are correct, we are yet to know the context of how it will all play out.

Sometimes I think people are nuts. A lot of time I think that. You can’t have rational thoughts on a subject unless you have all the facts. In this instance there is very little to go on. Lets all enjoy the Olympics and we’ll see how it plays out. This is not the time nor the place to go mental about the possible House of Lords Reform Bill dying a death.

PS: Yes The Telegraph has posted several pieces about the ‘Curse of Cameron’ – any newspaper that believes in curses and writes serious pieces about it is a newspaper written by morons. There is no such thing as curses. End.

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‘Plenty of Lib Dems (MPs) will join Tories’

In a move that will crush the spirits of most true Liberal Democrats it has emerged that plenty of Lib Dems are ready to jump ship and join the Tories before the 2015 General Election. This is the shock announcement that the Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed MP made today. I know I’m as stunned as everyone but who are we do think that a Labour MP is going to lie and make up stuff for political reasons?

Jamie Reed MP tweeted at lunchtime:

Lib Dems say no to Labour but yes to the Tories
Lib Dems say no to Labour but yes to the Tories

So yeah no Lib Dems will join Labour. Not even the ones who are on the left of the party but ‘plenty’ are going to switch to the Tories full-time. Now I have to admit that I was sceptical when I first read this so I decided to do some investigative reporting and play detective. Otherwise known as I sent this MP a tweet…

Jamie Reed MP Tweet
I question his motives…

But don’t worry folks he replied and allayed all my fears:

MP do talk
MPs do talk!

I am now convinced. MPs do talk to each other and that bombshell has conformed the news in my eyes. Moves are already being made and feelers are being put out. With evidence like that I don’t think we need a justice system.

So there we have it. What a shocker for a rainy Monday lunchtime. Plenty of Lib Dems are going to join the Tories but none of them will join Labour. This isn’t conjecture. It is fact. Jamie Reed – the Labour MP for Copeland has spoken. Of course if this turns out not to happen then we have documented proof that he is a liar but that won’t happen. Now we wait to see how many Lib Dem MPs amount to ‘plenty’ – with what 57 MPs I’d say plenty would need to be at least 10% at a minimum so we need 5.7 MPs to move over for Reed to be proved correct and not shown up as a liar who was lazily throwing out a tweet for political reasons.

So who wants to guess at who these MPs who will leave the Lib Dems for the Tories will be?

I’ll start us off…

and I’m done.

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Why Labour are the backup Quarterback of politics

For those who us who grew up on cheesy American teen sitcoms and/or films we got that perception that the most popular kid in high school was all the quarterback on the football team. He got the girls and he had the looks. At high school that might be the case but once these young people moved on to university then everything changed. The most popular kid on campus is rarely the quarterback – it is the backup quarterback.

Over in the states college sports are nearly as big as professional sports – certainly when it comes to football and basketball. I’m not just talking about the buzz around campus I am talking about really being under the national spotlight. Casual sports fans in California will know the college Quarterback of most of the big colleges on the east coast and they will know who Anthony Davis is and who Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is. They will know about the quarterback battles at various colleges and then of course there is recruiting and where 17 year-old kids decide to go to university is big business and kids make decisions on live television. It is the most bizarre concept to anyone who has never seen it before.

So why am I blabbering on about this? Well when it comes to college sports it is very rare that a college has no issues at quarterback. Last year LSU was undefeated going into the national title game but still no-one knew who should be the quarterback and fans despite winning wanted the backup in because the starter wasn’t playing very well. So when you consider most teams weren’t winning every week you can see how their fan base wanted someone else is. It is a bit like in 2010 when Gareth Barry became the greatest midfielder ever because he was injured and out of the team. When he got back into the team he was as distinctly average as ever but absence made the heart grow fonder and absence gave us hope that he could actually make the difference.

Labour spent 13 years in government until 2010 when they were voted out of office by the electorate. No-one was really voted in to replace them but the people wanted change. Two years later and the polling suggests that the electorate are desperate for Labour to return to office but it isn’t because anyone trusts them or likes Ed Miliband – it is solely because they have decided the incumbant isn’t who they want. It is the same as the backup quarterback – they don’t actually want the backup quarterback it is just that they do not want the starting QB.

People aren’t saying they will vote Labour because of they believe in their policies. They are saying they would vote for them because they just don’t like the policies of the current government. So I think Labour activists who are predicting landslide in 2015 and that the country has once again ‘gone red’ should take a bit of a step back. The country has most certainly not gone red but it most certainly has cooled off from the colour blue and the colour yellow is certainly not as fashionable as it was two years ago. People see red as the best of the three options not because they believe in red but because they disbelieve so strongly in blue and yellow.

There is one big problem though that Labour have yet to face. When the backup QB comes in they often don’t match up to the hopes and aspirations of the fan base and quickly they want the next backup QB to replace the new guy. This is part of the ebb and flow of college football and it is the same in politics. Labour won three successive elections not because they were popular but because of two simple things – firstly the economy was booming and secondly the backup QB wasn’t one that the electorate liked the look of.

David Cameron was the highly touted backup QB who has now stepped up to the job of QB and is making a pigs ear of it. Ed Miliband was the walk-on who got the backup job over the popular and highly recruited David Miliband and now he is thought of as a better option than Cameron not because of anything he is saying or doing but because of Cameron’s mistakes. There was another young QB called Nick Clegg but he’s not in the running any more after he decided he could play Running Back with Cameron and even though that got both he and Cameron on to the playing field at the same time which seemed on paper to satisfy the fan base/electorate in reality they are not happy with this arrangement at all.

Ed Miliband may win the job in 2015 but not because the country are fully behind him. They are just pissed off with the lot of them at the moment and he is seen as the best of a bad bunch. With such a disillusioned and unrestful fan base Ed would need to start strong or they’ll turn on him quickly.

It is a very hard job being the Quarterback of a team that can’t play all it’s star men and it’s even harder being a Prime Minister in turbulent economic times both at home and abroad. Cameron isn’t doing a great job that is for sure. Osbourne his long time to go guy is also having a stinker but they are not being helped by off the field issues regarding neighbours economies that are creating issues for the home team.

The fan base aren’t calling for Cameron’s head just yet but they aren’t far away. Unless he can turn it around soon then they’ll do anything just to get rid of him and by do anything what I really mean is give Ed Miliband a chance. He has shown nothing. Wasn’t recruited by anyone and wasn’t highly touted coming in to the Labour party but now he’s the only alternative and it is getting to the point where an unknown alternative is better than the known incumbent.

Labour and Ed Miliband are like the backup quarterback. They are wanted by the electorate not because of who they are and what they stand for but because they just aren’t who we have at the moment and people don’t like what we have right now. It is a bit like a girl leaving a boyfriend who treats her badly and just getting with a nice guy who’ll respect her but after a while realising that isn’t exactly who she wants and then moving on again. If Labour are going to win in 2015 and grow after that then they’ll have to have some substance and not just say ‘well we aren’t them’ and sit back on that.

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