Austerity in the UK

Written By: - Date published: 5:16 pm, November 2nd, 2010 - 62 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, uk politics - Tags: ,

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, but what with Paul Henry and The Hobbit there hasn’t seemed like room. Now international news is likely to be dominated by the fallout from the American mid-term elections for a bit, so now or never.

Pity the people of the UK. Decades of neoliberal economics haven’t worked there any better than anywhere else in the world. The UK has hollowed out its real economy, and over invested in parasitic “financial services”. The last “Labour” government didn’t have a Michael Cullen being cautious for a decade, so the UK entered the financial crisis over-committed and under-prepared. They spent billions of taxpayers’ money bailing out banks that are “too big to fail” (more! more! cry the banks). Now the UK is now facing the bill.

The new Tory / LibDem government is embarking on a program of vicious cuts to public spending. This account is typical:

Spending review axe falls on the poor

Ceorge Osborne claims sweeping cuts will take the country back from the brink of bankruptcy

George Osborne drove his axe deep into the heart of the British state today, with a range of sweeping cuts to welfare, higher education, social housing, policing and local government that he claims will draw the country back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Outlining his long-awaited comprehensive spending review, which will cut £81bn from government spending, Osborne vowed to restore “sanity to our public finances and stability to our economy”. Perhaps the most striking of the new cuts announced was a package of £7bn in extra welfare cuts on top of the £11bn already made in the last budget.

No need to quote too much more, but here are some headlines:

But it’s not all doom and gloom! No no no, I wouldn’t want you to get that idea. Some folk are doing just fine: “UK boardroom pay leaps 55% in a year”. And internationally for example: “Goldman earmarks $17b for self-congratulation”. The ultra-rich are like cockroaches, no matter what kind of crisis is going on around them they always make out just fine…

62 comments on “Austerity in the UK”

  1. Vicky32 1

    I spoke to my penfriend in the UK on Sunday night about this amongst other things. He is angry! He and his wife are pensioners, but they have a son with severe disabilities (indeed my friend has a new and severe disability himself, due to medical misadventure…) Their housing is secure but that’s about all!

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    And even though the UK has been sharing the same wealth of North Sea oil as ‘socialist’ Norway all these years, the UK is in the dunny while Norway is sitting on a US$500B sovereign fund*.

    It seems these ‘socialists’ really have their shizzle together when it comes to managing economic assets for the betterment of their countries. Righties/centre righties like Thatcher, Blair, Brown? Not so much.

    *That’s equivalent to US$105K for every man, woman and child in Norway.

    • Rob 2.1

      I wish we had the economic policies of Norway lol. One day I plan to visit there to find out first hand just how they run things as they do. It is incredible.

    • john 2.2

      Colonial Viper, I agree 100%. The Wretched Thatcher blew North Sea Oil Wealth following the NeoLiberal garbage ideology of the US. Now the ordinary Brit is going to pay Big Time! What a bunch of toffee nosed (Public schooled bent) gits the current governing bunch are. Gawd ‘Elp the Poor Poms!

  3. Rob 3

    The Austerity measures in the UK disgusted me. They also made me want privatisation for once. On their cuts calculator I saw that selling 10% of their roading to private companies would be 50% more than they are cutting this year from all the services. Realised I really am not that attached to the idea of governments owning roads because of what a poor investment they are becoming.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    The cost of Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this financial year has soared to more than £4.5bn, an annual increase of more than 50%, figures released yesterday reveal.

    That was from a Feb 2009 news story. War costs have only accumulated since then.

    So as Dwight D Eisenhower said, war in its final analysis represents a theft from citizens who are left hungry and who are not fed, who are left cold and are not clothed.

    Its awful that big banks and war interests have drained the public purse and ordinary people are left to rot. What the hell is wrong with these political ‘leaders’.

    • Vicky32 4.1

      Absolutely true CV! War is theft, amongst other things…

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        have a listen to him.

        This is what US Republicans used to sound like. Some of them.

    • James Stephenson 4.2

      Norway vs UK is hardly an apt comparison. They’ve had pretty much the same revenues from North Sea Oil but Norway has only 5m population versus 60m. Ferchrissakes they’ve only got one real city, Bergen at #2 isn’t even as big as Christchurch. Have you ever travelled there? Thanks to their own little inflationary micro-climate it’s eyewateringly expensive.

      Their biggest advantage though, was the sensible decision to stay out of the EU. Britain’s contribution to which will be nigh on £6bn this year.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Yeah your points are fair enough. The two countries are vaslty different in size, but I bet the Chancellor of the Exchequer would love to be sitting on a US$500B sovereign fund right this very minute. And £15-20B from the Iraqi/Afghanistan wars would’ve been nice too.

        I’ve got no actual idea about the costs/benefits of joining the EU but it does not look like its done the UK many favours. However I know that UK/Irish businesses did get lots of cheap immigrant labour out of it. (Not saying that was a net benefit for their wider societies though)

      • KJT 4.2.2

        Thats funny. We are continually being told by those who want more cheap labour that a small population is a disadvantage.

      • Rob 4.2.3

        Doesn’t that mean they should both have a $500bn fund but the UK have more people to share it between rather than a huge mountain of debt? Being a larger country doesn’t justify you spending all of your revenue.

    • Bill 4.3

      Defence spending has steadily declined as a %age of gdp in the UK from 9% in 1953-54 to 2.6% in 2010-11.

      Here’s the link

      Anti-spam BUTTONS Indeed

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    Between this and whatever hellish alchemy the teabag infested cadaver of the once Grand Old Party come up with, we should have some empirical evidence, in time for our elections, of what slashing demand does to an already stagnant economy.

  6. Bill 6

    Looks to me like there is something very suspect going on in the UK.

    The Guardian published a chart of total public spending as a %age of gdp going back to the late 40’s.

    As a %age of gdp, total public spending was as high during most of the Thatcher years as it was under Brown. And debt interest levels are sitting at 3% of gdp…one of the lowest levels in over 50 years.

    Can’t see where the bankruptcy claim factors in.
    What am I missing?

    edit Oh, social security spending, surely a measure of general immiseration is pretty damned high. So hit the poor that market dynamics brought into being because…?

    • 6.1

      What are you missing?

      Hmmm, a massive global economic slump which was caused by under regulated markets imploding and neo-liberal policy prescriptions reaching their used by date?

      That is, expenditure premised on the neo-liberal free market house of cards economy continued, whereas the house of cards economy collapsed.

      Had the house of cards economy continued then there would not be a massive deficit, although the day of reckoning would have come sooner or later.

  7. Jeremy Harris 7

    I read about 4% cuts… Not exactly welfare state armageddeon…

    • Bill 7.1

      18 billion from a total of 156.15 billion = 11.5% (approx)

      • Jeremy Harris 7.1.1

        The cuts are spread over the next five years and are a £83 billion reduction compared to the Gordon Brown budget. What does that mean? Well it is actually only a £28 billion reduction in real terms (taking into account inflation). From a total budget of £697 billion, it is a reduction of only 4%.

        The total budget in pegged to inflation while the cuts are not from my understanding… Given their deficits and that many of the cuts are aimed at benefits enjoyed by the middle class it doesn’t seem too outlandish… Given their deficit projections they have to stop the bleeding somehow…

        • Bill


        • KJT

          They could. Tax the banks who caused the problem.

          • Colonial Viper

            I hear Vodafone owes 900 million quid in taxes they have been given leave to delay paying back to the UK Govt. Nice to be a fat cat corporate huh.

            Also we are looking at 490,000 layoffs. That’s 10% of the public sector workforce. That is not a 4% cut, that is just spin Jeremy.

        • Rob

          Whoever said that was being quite dishonest. It doesn’t make the cut smaller to have a delayed implementation system.

          As others pointed out also a few billion are crucial depending where you cut them from.

        • Colonial Viper

          Given their deficit projections they have to stop the bleeding somehow…

          Dumb question: Why?

          Why extend unemployment queues now, when they are already so long? When there are no jobs out there for people who get laid off? Why not wait to cut back once the UK is out of recession and there are jobs for people to go to? Why not spread the cuts out over more years to give people time to adjust and for the private sector to bounce back?

          This is disaster capitalism from a Tory Government.

          • Lanthanide

            I think Labour would’ve done much the same, had they won.

            • Colonial Viper

              In the sense of general direction perhaps, but bear in mind that the Tories have increased Labour’s planned budget cuts by around 30%, and are implementing them faster.

              Anyhows Ed Milliband has his chance to differentiate Labour now.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Jeremy, the welfare state will still be there in the UK. But the destruction of Government capability and increasing of unemployment lines should not be underestimated.

      UK Govt slashing 25% from most departmental budgets

      UK city council budgets to be cut by 25%, some 30%

      490,000 public job losses expected

      And the banks still have their Get out of Jail Free card

      • Bill 7.2.1

        Hmm. Na. Surely not.

        Public bodies whose purpose is to hold corporations to account are being swept away. Public bodies whose purpose is to help boost corporate profits, regardless of the consequences for people and the environment, have sailed through unharmed. What the two lists suggest is that the economic crisis is the disaster the Conservatives have been praying for. The government’s programme of cuts looks like a classic example of disaster capitalism: using a crisis to re-shape the economy in the interests of business.

        George Monbiot

    • Bunji 7.3

      In graphics.

      I think you missed a zero Jeremy – departments other than health and international aid were all told to look at cuts of up to 40%, with an average aim of 25% across the entire budget. In the end local govt was the biggest cut at >35% (watch those rates rise… and tenants pay in the UK) – but there are some eye-watering cuts in there.

      In the BMJ there’s a good editorial – an excerpt:

      Welfare spending took the biggest hit: to already announced savings of £11bn ({euro}13bn, $17bn) another £7bn was added, to come “mainly from making working-age benefits for poorer households stingier” (The Economist 2010, 23 Oct). “Was it fair that children should emerge as the prime losers?” asks Polly Toynbee in our online debate over the fairness of the cuts (doi, doi). In every income group families with school age children lose the highest proportion of their income (6.7%, compared with pensioners losing 2.9% and the childless 2.3%). Women will also lose out disproportionately. “Of the £16bn cut from benefits by the treasury, £11bn is being taken from women’s handbags and only £5bn from men’s wallets,” Toynbee writes. Low earning mothers will lose £1500 worth of childcare credits a year, forcing many on the minimum wage to give up work.

      Clare Bambra dissects the government’s changes to incapacity benefits (doi). Its underlying intention, via various ruses, is “to move all the current 2.6 million recipients of incapacity related benefits on to other benefits.” As she points out, many of the claimants have been out of the labour market and dependent on low value state benefits for a long time: “they did not benefit from the economic boom, but the coalition government seems determined that they will bear the brunt of the bust.”

      • Jeremy Harris 7.3.1

        How could I have missed a zero if I say 4% and Bill a fellow socialist (he must be to quote Monbiot) is saying 11.5%..?

        • Colonial Viper

          Wheres the reference for your 4% figure?

          There are plenty of business stories quoting 25% budget cuts in Whitehall, and 30% or higher cuts by city councils.

          Anyhows it is way more than 4% unless you are saying 4% of UK GDP, which would make the cuts a truly massive sum.

            • Jeremy Harris

              Yip, that’s where I read it…

              Surely this can’t be too hard to figure out, the amount in Brown’s budget, the amount in the new budget, the projected inflation rate…

              • Colonial Viper

                ffs you took that number off some dude’s blog?

                490,000 added to the unemployment queues and 25% slashed off departmental budgets reported in REAL news sources not good enough for you?

                • Jeremy Harris

                  I didn’t know we where presenting university essays here CV…

                  Am I under some false impression that we are having something more serious than a coffee room chat..? Am I being graded for a Bachelor in Socialist Studies..?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Jeremy you are Right Wing which is fine and dandy, so why not at least quote something with credbility like the Financial Times or the WSJ?

                    Instead of pitting the numbers of some random blogger who’s come up with his own budgetary formula against The Guardian, The Telegraph, Aunty Beeb,…

                    Anyways I thought we were having a serious discussion about a serious topic affecting millions of people, not why the All Blacks lost their last match.

                    • Jeremy Harris

                      I simply mentioned I’d read 4% and then quoted where I read it, I didn’t really want to go in depth on this issue…

                      There seems to be confusion as to the total amount, Bill’s 11.5% looks right if the total is divided by the cuts, there will be an inflationary effect, Rob makes a good point about fixed interest… I think the cuts are not over the top when the situation is considered…

                      I don’t see how the Tories/Lib Dems are responsible for Council cuts unless they run their rating system very different to ours…

                  • Rob

                    Generally if you are going to post something not a mainstream media source it needs to provide its own evidence/the numbers working it out. Unfortunately the blog you cited is not the type to do that it merely stated they had done calculations to say it was 4% and provided no evidence themselves. i.e. your reference had no backing and so the person could just me making shit up. In this case they weren’t making shit up I don’t think but they got the way “real terms” applies the wrong way around. They took the fact that the budget will increase according to inflation to mean that the cuts will be less severe. Inflation is a measure of the currency losing value meaning a budget which increases for inflation (as it is claimed the UK budget does I had never heard this before today) remains stationary in real terms rather than increases. Thus the 4% figure is wrong. Well not so much wrong as completely useless in dollar terms the budget will increase due to inflation but the value of the budget will decrease.

                    Here our budgets are not aligned with inflation and thus constantly decrease in real terms every year in many areas regardless of which party is in government although less departments suffer from it under Labour usually.

            • Bill

              Cheers Rob.

              Jeremy. You claim a fact based on….ah fuck, never mind. Bye.

              • Jeremy Harris

                I didn’t claim a fact I stated I read a statistic…

                If I had said definitively the cuts are 4% you’d be right…

        • Bill


          Still waiting for that link. Meanwhile. The 11.5% I calculated came from the link I provided (The Guardian). They are using figures and calculations provided by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and provide links to their raw data.

          The BBC links that Bunji used are using Treasury figures.

          Stephanie Flanders BBC Economics Editor points out that

          The Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) says that the entire package of tax and benefit changes coming into force by 2014-15 is clearly regressive, including the tax increases put in train by Labour.

          The Treasury analysis for the spending review document, which suggests otherwise, excludes a third of the benefit changes planned by the government and does not go up to 2014-15 The changes excluded by this are clearly regressive – they have the greatest effect, relative to income, on people at the lower end of the income scale.

  8. Rob 8

    Can I also point out the 11.5% figure is also not that helpful. I feel the more important thing to look at is how much public spending is cut not how much the budget is, the budget includes repaying debt which cannot be altered and provides no services now. The fact that the government spends lots of money does not necessarily make it a good one, that it is spending it in important areas is what makes it good.

    The average government department faces cuts around 20% according to the guardian/heritage and this is after certain departments like the NHS and the Ministry of Defence are isolated to be given only small cuts. As Viper points out some of these in key areas are massive, there is also redistribution at the same time as these cuts going on with some things not being cut at all or increased while others are left to languish.

    • Bill 8.1

      As I asked here

      • Rob 8.1.1

        Oh right I only skimmed that comment. You may also want to look at the fact that there were some capital expenditures in those years and sales of state assets to pay for things or privatisation of services which leaves more money for the government to spend on other things. Battleships cost a lot of money and they used to love them.

  9. My source for 4% is this:

    Which is actually 3.3%. Public spending as a proportion of GDP will still be 41% by 2015, hardly a massive rollback of socialism.

    However, here’s an astonishing idea, read the actual report itself rather than the Guardian.

    The problem with journalists is that too many don’t understand that £1 today is worth more than £1 4 years from now, so the idea of “real terms” value eludes them (bless).

    The report goes line by line to every department. At one end of the spectrum is 37% real increase in internationla development, at the other is 33% reduction in the local government communities grant. Health is rising by 1.3% in real terms. Education cut 3.4% in real terms. Work and pensions (welfare) rises 2.3% in real terms. Capital budgets were cut further, but any painting of this as vicious is pure propaganda. The welfare cuts are about removing child benefit from the top 15% of income earners (heaven forbid), capping total welfare to be received by any family at the average wage, plus capping housing allowances so that people can no longer afford to rent homes at more than £1600 a month (so housing beneficiaries could live better than the average family, and landlords could also milk this). In other words, welfare is being cut from those on above average incomes and those who are gaining more in benefits that those on average incomes.

    The real story is that overall spending is increasing in nominal terms, in real terms the drop is modest. Of course the unspoken story is that Labour wanted to make 50% of the same cuts over that period (without protecting health or international aid), but wont say what it would have cut (naturally).

    Given the tax increases that have been (the new 50% top tax rate introduced by Labour and not being discontinued) and the increase in VAT to 20% (which tends to fall on middle income households, as food is exempt, and energy is at a far lower rate), then it is hard to say that this is some serious neo-liberal slash and burn.

    • Rob 9.1


      Real (Economics) (prenominal) Economics (of prices, incomes, wages, etc.) considered in terms of purchasing power rather than nominal currency value

      1b today is not worth more in a few years it is worth less. The only way it could be worth more is if you are planning on having several % of deflation. You will need more than 1b to buy today’s services worth of 1b dollars.

      When looking at government spending you subtract inflation from the total not from the cut (i.e. the cuts can only get bigger unless you expect deflation).

      You are taking the dollar amount and then applying the calculations to turn a figure in real terms into the dollar amount to it. If you do as you seem to describe.

      What they appear to be doing is looking at government spending as a % of GDP completely unrelated to either the dollar or real terms value. This doesn’t measure whether it is a % increase or decrease in the amount in the budget. It simply says how much of their income they are spending. If your income reduces 20% and you spend 20% less on stuff it doesn’t mean you didn’t spend any less it means you had less income.

    • Colonial Viper 9.2

      However, here’s an astonishing idea, read the actual report itself rather than the Guardian.

      Oh I see. You’re with the club of Pain Deniers

      The New Statesman also has your game down pat:

      The pain deniers haven’t got their sums wrong. Public spending will rise from £637.3bn in 2010/11 to £711.4bn in 2014/15. But the claim that the cuts are mythical is only achieved by the old trick of measuring public spending in cash terms, rather than as a percentage of GDP.

      As Will Straw has argued, the latter is by far the more sensible measure. At times of economic expansion, it is only reasonable to assume that some of the proceeds of growth will go towards improving public services. In addition, public-sector inflation is usually higher than the average growth in prices.

      Here’s an amazing idea, instead of trying to slice and dice the numbers in a way that no one else is with the object of minimising their impact, look at all the Whitehall departments having to find 25% to slice off their operating budgets *this year*. Look at the estimates of 490,000 to 1,000,000 job losses which are coming down the pike over the next 4 years.

      Public spending as a proportion of GDP will still be 41% by 2015, hardly a massive rollback of socialism.

      This is a 6% drop from current spending levels. It represents tens of billions of pounds no longer being spent on jobs, on benefits for the poor, and on services that everyone uses.

      People in the lowest socioeconomic sectors are going to be hardest hit by some of the most regressive cut backs ever considered. 3/4 of sickness beneficiaries (or their equivalent of) are simply going to be reclassed as fit for work. Somehow, with a stroke of a pen. But as usual the human and societal collateral damage is OK because as I have been reading, the Tory Right in the UK think that even more damage should be done while Cameron has the chance, and he is being too soft in his goals to reorder British society.

      And meanwhile, all the bankers still have their ‘get out of jail free’ cards.

      Personally I blame Blair and Brown for giving this frakin’ lot the look in at Whitehall.

  10. A 10

    Friends tell me that British universities may well be charging upwards of 6000 pounds a year in fees (through loans, but there you go).

    That’s crazy even for vocational degrees.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Yep, most uni fees in the UK are set to double. No problem if you come from a rich family though.

  11. john 11

    Yes and millionaire Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is cutting Corporation tax further! Oh bye the way! He’s also let off Vodafone from paying a 6,000,000,000 Pounds tax bill they owe without explanation. This has generated protests at Vodafone’s stores throughout the UK,but here in Oxford Street.
    When you combine this with the bank bailouts the cream crim rich class are looking out for themselves not the ordinary Pom! This is a brilliant clip a must watch:

    There is 12 billion corporate tax evasion in UK yearly

    • Bill 11.1

      But John, in feudal Europe, did the landowner pay much in the way of tithe,levy or tax? I don’t think they did.

      And so the argument would run that it’s preposterous to expect corporations to pay any taxes under corporate feudalism…or put another way, Caesar would pay unto Caesar why?

    • john 11.2

      Comments from the UK,they’re at the coal face!

      The UK is now a country of the rich
      The poor shall pay for the decadent sins of the rich and be told that they are scroungers and lazy
      the media will support this lie as there is no truth in the media.
      we are back to the elite and the slaves and this is just the beginning !

      Funny how its allways across the pond that they look for ideas
      Funny how they never look to Germany or Norway or any other nation that looks after the vunerable
      Noooooooooo just the land of chain gangs soup kitchens …food stamps ..and children living in trailers with no healthcare and tea party nut jobs screaming at an old man with Parkinsons disease
      USA is a broken society …suttre its got Nukes and a Big empire
      but shit …so was Rome and we all know how Glorious but Brutal that was
      Thing is why ask a load of Yanks how they punish the sick and poor and humiliate them ? not enough brain cells old chaps?

      USA has a broken underclass living in cars tents and millions destitute ……….and you want copy their ideas?

      The point of the workhouses back in the day was to make them so terrible that people would do anything rather than have to go to one. And yet they were still full of people. My point is that making life more shit for the unemployed has never yet been proven to motivate and energise them. Often quite the opposite.

      Its actualy a Govt that has declared ….economic Civil war on its own citizenry
      Tea Party versus the poor and vunerable
      Come back Oliver Cromwell ….the Toffs are at it again

      George Osborne

      Chancellor of the exchequer George Gideon Oliver Osborne is filthy rich, but we don’t really know how filthy. He is one of only a handful of upper crust millionaires invited to join C Hoare & Co, the oldest secret bank in Britain—and the most elite.
      Osborne, heir to the baronetcy of Ballintaylor and Ballylemon, County Waterford, has a mortgage on his £2 million London home with the 338‑year old bank.
      This didn’t stop him “flipping” his expense claims and avoiding capital gains tax on a London house. Osborne’s personal wealth is discretely hidden from view at Hoare & Co.
      We do know he has around £4 million as the beneficiary of a trust fund that owns a 15 percent stake in Osborne & Little, the wallpaper company co-founded by his father.
      Some details of the Axeman’s personal wealth.
      He won’t be too worried about losing child benefit

      • Bill 11.2.1

        C Hoare and Co…wonder how they pronounce that. Any bets on the ‘e’ not being silent?

        Anyway. According to wikipedia, the CEO is A Hoare….founded by Sir Dick Hoare…I’ll stop now.

    • john 11.3

      Further link discussing God Father Osbourne’s Mafia heist with Vodafone at the expense of the British People he is supposed to represent:

      Shades of the Hobbit deal here? In my opinion I think what’s happening in the UK is going to lead to social disintegration with negative stats soaring skywards because the economy can’t grow out of this due to North Sea Oil gone and World Peak Oil. So the rich are girding themselves with wealth transfer to themselves and pulling up the ladder to their ivory towers leaving the masses below to their Dickensian poverty, probably been happening most of British History, although in the past the poorer AG labourers had the beauty of the countryside to comfort them especially in Summer, but now the UK is a hugely over urbanised featureless aspalt desert, hard to get a natural high there! And no cheap scrumpy in the pub available either.

      • john 11.3.1

        John Pilger writes with withering contempt for the UK’s current shallow money feeder so called government, which is totally possessed by the US garbage ideology of NeoLiberalism and is destroying what’s left of the UK’s Social Democratic society. Refer link:

        “Born of the “never again” spirit of 1945, social democracy in Britain has surrendered to an extreme political cult of money worship. This reached its apogee when £1 trillion of public money was handed unconditionally to corrupt banks by a Labour government whose leader, Gordon Brown, had previously described “financiers” as the nation’s “great example” and his personal “inspiration”. ”

        ” the Blair gang, assisted by venal MPs, finished Thatcher’s work and built the foundation of the present “coalition”. This is led by a former PR man for an asset stripper and by a bagman who will inherit his knighthood and the tax-avoided fortune of his father, the 17th Baronet of Ballentaylor. David Cameron and George Osborne are essentially fossilised spivs who, in colonial times, would have been sent by their daddies to claim foreign terrain and plunder. ”

        “Today, they are claiming 21st century Britain and imposing their vicious, antique ideology, albeit served as economic snake oil. Their designs have nothing to do with a “deficit crisis”. A deficit of 10 per cent is not remotely a crisis. When Britain was officially bankrupt at the end of the second world war, the government built its greatest public institutions, such as the National Health Service and the great arts edifices of London’s South Bank.”

  12. Jeremy Harris 12

    The post title: Austerity in The UK, would make a good sex pistols song…

  13. Jeremy Harris 13

    I think the Sex Pistols were disbanded before I was born, but some things are too classic to fade away…

    • lprent 13.1

      More like fell apart, and not a moment too soon in my opinion. Rocky (my neice) had the same opinion about the SP and inflicted them on me when she was doing year 11 under my supervision. In self defense I gave her access to my music archives with the likes of Patti Smith, The Clash, early Cure, Placebo, etc. In fact anyone that knew how to play their instruments was allowed on the sound system. That excluded the sex pistols.

      • Bored 13.1.1

        I remember the Pistols coming through like a rush of fresh air into a world of pompous up itself rock, truly liberating, then gone. Musically dire in retrospect, but Lydons lyrics (Johnny Rotten) truly inspired. His words definitely stand the test of time for those who are dissaffected.

        God save the queen
        We mean it man
        And there is no future
        In England’s dreaming

        No future, no future,
        No future for you
        No future, no future,
        No future for me

        No future, no future,
        No future for you
        No future, no future
        For you

        Could have been written for todays UK.

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    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    2 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    3 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    4 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    4 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    4 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    5 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    6 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    7 days ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    7 days ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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