Art Europe Politics Scotland

The End of Scottish Independence?

Something momentous happened last week at the SNP conference…something that went largely unreported and unnoticed except from a brave few. Something which greatly saddens me.   As predicted on this blog two years ago the SNP have given up on Independence.  The dream is over.  Or rather the dream remains only as a dream.  It’s useful to motivate the troops but to all intents and purposes the hierarchy of the SNP have now given up on any hope of that dream becoming reality.

Why is this the case?

By supporting a second Brexit referendum the SNP have guaranteed that any future Scottish independence referendum will be followed by yet another.  In the unlikely scenario that a referendum was granted by the UK government ( something which is currently required by law) and the even more unlikely event it was won by Yes, the UK government could then argue that people did not really know what they were voting for, that they should get a second chance to vote on the ‘deal’ – and they would of course ensure that the terms offered were the worst possible.  In other words they would behave just as the EU have just now.  And Nicola has just handed that to them on a plate.

Jim Sillars is one of the few in the SNP to see it (or at least one of the few to publicly admit it)

Unionists can rejoice. If they lose the next independence referendum, they can quote the Nicola Sturgeon doctrine on Brexit: if you don’t like the first result – vote again and get a chance to reverse the decision. Never has such a foolish leadership decision been so easily and recklessly accepted by the SNP membership. Never has the pass been so cheaply sold.

Brian Wilson in the Scotsman argues that it is ‘all one big, ongoing publicity stunt”

Ms Sturgeon has acknowledged out of necessity what has long been apparent – there is no appetite for a second referendum, no conceivable justification for it in the midst of negotiations that will affect every aspect of Scottish life, as much as the rest of the UK, and no prospect of any Prime Minister in his or her right mind agreeing to it. So it has all been one big, ongoing publicity stunt. That begs a question, which is largely for Scotland’s broacasters to answer. If the same nonsense kicks off again, manoeuvring for the now officially distant objective of a second referendum, while Scotland’s interests in the Brexit negotiations and much else play second fiddle, will Ms Sturgeon be treated with the same deference?

I think that Nicola knows this – as do many in the SNP hierarchy – but they would never say it, because the dream of independence is what motivates their troops and keeps them in power.   Some are beginning to get a bit suspicious but in general the party faithful (in what is now a highly controlled and efficient party) continue to lap it up and go along with the group think.  Thats why even when she told them that in effect there would not be IndyRef2 for another few years (‘when Brexit is sorted’ is code for that), there was hardly a murmer.  Despite all the marches, social media hysteria and constant up beat reports about the opinion polls (which are largely static despite the Brexit chaos), Nicola knows that the numbers are not there to win IndyRef2….I’m not even sure her heart is in it…she seems more set on saving the EU).

Indy in the EU?

But there is a second reason that Nicola has done this – she has replaced the vision of Scottish being an independent sovereign country able to make its own laws and be governed by its own people, with the oxymoronic fantasy of ‘independence in the EU’.

Now as a fully paid up member of the UK Establishment (which is overwhelmingly Remain), she is a useful tool to be wheeled out whenever they want a ‘progressive’ case for the EU to be made.  So yesterday she gave a speech at the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) whose members are overwhelmingly pro-EU.  The Arts Establishment is also one that is well-funded by the EU – I got an insight to that a couple of years ago when I went to represent the Free Church at the Tate gallery – The Tate, the Establishment and the Free Church

The Arts Establishment is The Establishment. The political, economic, media, educational and arts establishments are all just sub-branches of the same establishment. It is the chairmen of companies, the Principals of Universities and the graduates of Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge who are la›rgely the patrons and controllers of the arts.

As we are seeing in these days the Establishment is in a blind panic about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU and is pulling out all the stops to prevent that happening.   Frederick Forsyth reckons that 95% of the British establishment support staying in the EU – because the ‘the EU is the biggest taxpayer funded free ride in the world’. And these people are its primary recipients.  The papers make a great deal of fuss about welfare scroungers (and indeed those who are scroungers deserve the criticism), but there are establishment figures who do very well out of the largesse of the taxpayer – including in the arts world!

Anyway as you can see if you watch the FM’s speech (well delivered, articulate and pushing all the right buttons for her audience) they lapped it up..

The biggest problem with the FM’s position is her lack of understanding of what the EU actually is.  In her world, which is somewhat simplistic and fundamentalist, she has the good guys and the bad guys.   The latter are clearly Westminster (although in her new position as luvvie of the Remain classes she has even come to rely on Westminster to overturn the vote of the people) whose treatment of Scotland is appalling, bad, evil.  The former are the EU – the bastions of all that is good and pure and progressive.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 10.43.51
This is from the Scotland in Europe website which puts forward the best case for being in the EU

But here is the really scary thing.  Our First Minister does not seem to know what the EU is or how it operates.  She believes as she stated that it is possible to be an ‘independent’ country within the EU because the EU is a collaboration of sovereign national nations, who each retain their sovereignty whilst co-operating together.  I don’t really blame her for this as it is a collective delusion which most of the Remain classes seem to share.  But it is as nonsensical as arguing for a square circle or, perhaps more pertinent, that it is  possible for Scotland to be an independent country within the UK union.     The trouble is that the EU is not a collection of national states working together.  It was designed to be a supranational body where individual states agree to subjugate themselves to the laws of the superior body.  Over the years the EU has developed from being a trading block to being this supranational body – it has never ceded power to individual countries but has instead increasingly taken away that power.  The move is towards a United States of Europe and there is no sign that that move will end and sovereignty be restored to sovereign nations.  That may or may not be a good thing – but please lets not pretend that you can be independent (make your own laws, be governed by your own politicians) and be in the EU.

So why is Nicola going along with this?  Perhaps she genuinely does believe in the EU fantasy…but there is also a degree of self-interest.   She believes that the EU will benefit her government (often spoken of as ‘Scotland’) or what I call ‘civic Scotland’.  And indeed it will and does – the EU’s method of ruling is to get local/national institutions to do the governing on their behalf.   A role which the Scottish Government, is quite prepared to do.   Nicola’s view on the EU means that Scottish Independence really means that Scotland will become a region of the EU – with substantive devolved powers, but we will not be an independent country with the ability to make all of our own laws, control our own economy or have our own currency.

The dream of independence is over.  Long live the dream!

The Beginning of the Nightmare – Why the SNP are Giving up on Independence for Scotland – Part 2

Fantasy Politics – Why the SNP are Giving up on Independence – Part 3–Childcare

The Scottish Referendum – Four Years On


  1. It still baffles me why Scotland wants to leave the UK when it shares both landmass and language. We in Cumbria feel remote from the powerhouses of London but that’s the case in any area outside the ‘home’ counties of any country. To me it makes no sense at all for a country as small as Scotland to want to try to go it alone. It already has a devolved government so is that not enough, and if not, why? Why is Scottish independence a dream in the first place?

      1. Quite true. I guess I should have said it baffles me why so many Scots want to leave the UK.

    1. On the morning after the Scottish referendum I breathed a huge sigh of relief that Scotland had not voted for “independence”. One reason for that was fear (yes, okay, fear) over what sort of a Constitution this “independent” Scotland would create. In particular what “rights” it would guarantee. I had no great confidence in the fairness of the Scottish political establishment.
      So I am no great supporter of Scottish “independence”. However, I can see no merit whatsoever in an argument against Scottish independence which says that Scotland is too small. Such an argument flies in the face of reality since there are many countries considerably smaller than Scotland which are “sovereign states”. Iceland, for example, has a population under half a million. Does anybody seriously suggest that Iceland is too small to be “independent”. Estonia has a population of just over a million. Does anybody seriously suggest that Estonia is too small ‘to go it alone’? Who would it go back to? Russia?
      The argument for independence is that Scotland, or the Scots, are a nation and have a right like other nations to their own nation state. Such a state should have control over its foreign policy and its economy. Devolution does not grant those things. Neither, as David frequently tells us, does “independence within the EU”. “Independence within the EU” is an oxymoron.

      1. Are you saying that Denmark, Holland, and all other countries in the Eu are not independent?

      2. Yes….witness the case of Greece, Poland, Hungary, Catalonia and Italy….they are only ‘independent’ as long as they obey the EU laws. The minute they disagree watch what happens to them. You are not independent if you don’t have the freedom to make many of your own laws.

    2. Your assumption we need permission for another independence referendum is completely wrong …making your opinons in the rest of the article irrelevant …

      1. Because of the nature of the agreement a new referendum has to be agreed between the UK and Scottish parliaments. Legally any that was done unilaterally would not be binding and would have no force. You may not like that – but it is the law and it is the position. Don’t dismiss the rest of the article on the basis of believing a myth. The Scottish government could hold a referendum any time it liked…its just it would have no power or force whatsoever – and most people probably wouldn’t vote. If you don’t agree why not ask the Scottish government why they havn’t already held one?

    1. Rather like the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are appointed, not elected, and that they then appoint the country’s EU Commissioners.

      1. No – not at all. Can I suggest you read a couple of books on politics and don’t just repeat internet meme? The Prime and the Cabinet are elected – we can vote them out. The EU Commissioners are not elected and cannot be voted out by the electorate. Also they are not appointed by the Prime Minister and Cabinet – nor answerable to them. Ultimately they are appointed by the EU (after being suggested by the national government).

  2. Good read thank you David. Evidence of the controlling nature of the EU today’s with Italy being warned about thr budget they have just proposed for themselves. Substitute Scotland for Italy and image the complaints

  3. You complain of another referendum on EU membership quoting Sillars who thinks it is wrong to keep haing referendums until you get the result you want.
    But, that is exactly what is wrong with Indy referendum 2. The people spoke. Folks who disagree want another referendum to try to get “Yes”/ There should not be another independence referendum within a generation (whatever that is).
    A personal point. I liked Donald Dewar, but I did not support devolution. The cunning rhetoric of SNP in changing the legal devolved term of “The Scottish Executive” created an illusion of a nation state, which is not what devolution offered. In my opinion the SNP should work in Westminster for the good of the UK.
    If UK thrives, Scotland will thrive.

    1. Your last sentence is wrong.
      Westminster is only interested in London and England doing well, scotland is only in the union to be asset stripped.

  4. Fears of an EU super-state are overdone. Whatever rhetoric may come from some politicians in support of this, if you look at the wider European political landscape, and the rise of Euroscepticism, with Eurosceptic parties even entering the governments of some countries, there is no way that moves to closer political union are feasible now or in the medium term.

    There is a strong expectation in Brussels that the next European Parliament will be more fragmented, reflecting election results around EU countries over the last two or three years. This will include more Eurosceptic MEPs. (Though without one of the biggest Eurosceptic contingents, UKIP.)

    1. No – its not overdone at all. The European Parliament is largely irrelevant. They will fall into line with what the political executive, the Commission says, and they have no power to propose any legislation. The history of the EU has been towards increasing centralisation and the dimunition of national government’s powers. That will continue….Even more so if the EU succeed in punishing Britain and having us as a vassal state (May’s option)…..

      1. I do wish people would stop talking about the mere continuing operation of established law as “punishment”. As far as I know, not one single change in legislation has been made deliberately targeting Britain since the date of That Vote.
        Britain took a leading part in drafting the law of Article 50, and for all I know took a similar lead over decades prior to that in making sure non-members (of whom it didn’t expect to be one!) were firmly put and kept in their place. Now we’re complaining we should be treated specially and differently from e.g. India or Australia – why?
        It’s an obvious fact that when you build a wall and lock all the doors, it keeps you in as much as keeping the other fellow out – something often tragically discovered in fires.
        If we want to do it, we get to deal with it – and take it on the chin like everybody else.

      2. I do know of Varoufakis, and deplored the harsh treatment of Greece vocally at the time: the situation, however, was and is wholly different to ours.
        We aren’t asking the EU to loan us money to bail us out of the consequences of our own financial mismanagement: and – even more relevant – we are not in the euro, which carried certain obligations Greece seems to have treated as optional. In any other relationship not involving the EU, conservative opinion would have normally thought a major creditor quite right in taking a severe line with a defaulting client, rather than just handing them more money. “Dependency culture”, anyone?
        It’s perfectly possible to think the Greeks should not have been admitted to the euro when they were, and that the response to their crisis was both harsh and impolitic: and also to think that Brexit is another and worse wrong answer. There is no special “punishment” in simply letting the law take its course, any more than when the law of intestacy disappoints a rich man’s relatives – and I won’t bore your readership with all the usual illustrations as to how leaving a club or relationship doesn’t involve keeping all the same privileges as staying in.

      3. Interesting that you are defending the hard corporate capitalism of the EU….The bail out was for the German banks, not the Greeks. And the EU is not about the ‘law’ taking its course. Its about the unelected EU Commission punishing Britain in order to discourage others from leaving. What astounds me in all of this is how fanatical Remainers cannot conceive that the EU could ever do anything possibly wrong!

      4. I really do lose patience. I am not defending the whole lock, stock and barrel of
        “the hard corporate capitalism of the EU….” “the German banks” “the unelected EU Commission” and all the other boo-words that may or may not be true but certainly aren’t any more or less so for being constantly repeated – any more than “gammon” or “nazi” on the other side. Nor does thinking one option is less rubbish than the other, when both aren’t all that sweet, make me a “fanatic” – although I’m not so sure about you…that last sentence of yours is so hysterical it hardly seems like you at all. Perhaps we both need to consider Whom we serve and try to get a grip on our fears?
        I am merely pointing out – and repeating – that not one single change has been made into EU law, to date, since the Brexit vote, that could be construed as “punishing” Britain, or indeed any other putative leaver, as a direct result of that vote. If you know of one, feel free to name it. Nor has Britain been called before any court, convicted (of what?) or given a sentence. You can call what is now going on a negotiation in bad faith, or a hostile bargaining, but what it absolutely isn’t is a “punishment” – unless you want to rewrite the dictionary and the law as well? Words matter: and words can kill – “traitor” and “enemy of the people” are not safe bullets to play with either.
        Every difficulty we are going to encounter was, rightly or wrongly, already set in the existing legislation: and as a direct result of Britain’s previous actions in drafting that law. We didn’t just wake up like Gulliver and find ourselves mysteriously tangled in the night by scary midgets frightened of our bigness. It was the clear duty of those wanting to achieve an Exit to look at the obvious difficulties and think out in advance how it could be done, and tell the rest of us *before* the vote – it should’ve been more like D-day and less like an episode of “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here”.
        I don’t need to tell you the arguments for Leaving: but there is no argument for the almighty mess that now is, should not have been, and is nobody’s fault but our own. I voted very much against that, and would do it again: if we want to be a grown-up country we should take responsibility and stop complaining to the family we’re leaving (and with a mouthful of abuse) that they won’t buy our ticket and pack our bags as well. Sadly I think it’s too late to go back and do it properly – not least because some people have threatened us with civil war if anyone dares try. (From which, may God deliver us.)

      5. For someone who is not defending you do a good job at trying! The unelected Commission and the German banks are not ‘boo words’ but realities. Just dismissing them with rhetoric and emotion doesn’t really help.

        I know whom I serve and He is the only one I fear. I dont’ have faith in the EU but I do weep for my country when I see it giving up on democracy and selling itself entirely into the hands of the elites – the rich and the powerful.

        Your point about EU law is quite strange. You seem to think that the only way the EU could punish the UK is through law. But that is obviously not the case. They punished Greece – not by using the law but by using trade and finance. Indeed this is the EU’s primary way of working. The EU is a political project which operates through using trade and money as a weapon. No one is talking about rewriting the dictionary (although the EU as a bastion of light, democracy and all things good seems to be getting close!)

        Why do you bring up the terms ‘traitor and enemy of the people? I was not using them and to bring them into play as though I was is again not helpful for honest discussion.

        The mess was of course inevitable – let us be charitable and assume that Mrs May as a Remainer was not trying to keep us in the EU by other means. She has instead just been incompetent and not realised what the EU is. She assumed it would be reasonable but if she knew her history she would realise that this was very unlikely – the EU Commission doesn’t have to be reasonable, it is not accountable to any electorate and cannot be voted out by the electorate. It has never been reasonable with anyone who has gone against its will, it has never accepted the result of any referendum it doesn’t like and it certainly is not going to let the UK leave without a fight. As the article shows, from the beginning the EU was a club that noone could ever leave. And no one has. They are certainly not going to let the UK be the first. At least not without severe consequences.

        I realise that you have this rather benign and fanciful view of the EU as a family. I don’t. It is a corporate club for the rich and powerful – ‘Thatcherism in Europe’ which at the end of the day uses the rich and powerful in each country to get its way. I suspect it will succeed in the UK as well. The vast majority of our civic elites (politicians, Uni principals, bishops, the CBI, the arts and educational establishments) are all pro-EU and ultimately they will get their way. The Peoples vote will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history and they will make sure we never get a meaningful one again….

        As for civil war – who is using hyperbole? I realise that we have been promised the apocalypse if we leave the EU (everything from the end of the NHS to a mass increase in sexual diseases and starvation on the streets) but neither will happen. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out – when the EU retains control of the UK and then itself goes down the tubes.

        From my perspective being in or out of the EU won’t really make that much difference – the rich and powerful will retain control – being out means we have more of a chance (although not much more) of being a democratic country where the people are sovereign. Being in guarantees that we won’t. But ultimately without a renewal of Christianity we are stuffed either way!

      6. “For someone who is not defending you do a good job at trying! “

        I wasted a lot of time trying to engage in depth with this post: but frankly, someone who sees anything less than unquestioning agreement as fanatical support for the opposite extreme, is in the grip of fear, not reason.

        As for “rhetoric and emotion” – my whole thrust is that you are doing precisely that, when you use “punishment” with a strong implication of deliberate malice and vindictiveness which is both judgemental and unjustified. And that rhetoric like that, stoking the fires of resentment and anger, is something that, when it reaches a certain point, can and does kill.

        Individual members of the Commission may have a personal animus towards the UK (although I doubt they think we’re that important) but the fact is that whatever adverse consequences come from our exit are no more vindictive or targeted than the “early termination” charge I would incur leaving my electricity provider. I signed up to that condition when I joined, and would only be laughed at if I chose to trigger it and then complained the (unelected!) Directors refused to intervene and cancel the charge.

        Britain not only signed up for those rules, but people chosen by our elected representatives in the UK Parliament actually drafted them. And we would have undoubtedly demanded their enforcement in full on “little people” like Poland or, yes, Greece. The fact is, we never thought they would apply to big, special Us and now we still think we’re entitled to demand an exception.

        None of that has anything to do with whether we should or shouldn’t Leave – that’s another question and I’d make a mistake letting you get me back on to it and divert me from my actual point. Both Leave and Stay have become false gods in their own right, which will neither see nor speak nor save us, and demand our children as sacrifices to their “higher cause” and “great future”.

        And there, at least, I think we can agree.

      7. You say you have tried to engage ‘in depth’ and then you say that someone who says that the EU is trying to punish the EU is responsible for rhetoric which ‘can and does kill’! Thats one of the most extreme statements I’ve heard so far in this debate. There is almost no commentator who thinks that the EU is going to do anything other than punish the UK for seeking to leave a union which it is supposed to be impossible to leave, in order to discourage others. It is in the EU’s interests (or at least the interests of those who regard the EU as a political project which noone should leave) to ensure that Britain gets as bad a deal as possible. Stating that is not encouraging people to kill!

        We are not changing electricity supplier. Its somewhat more serious than that. As for the rules you are getting to the heart of the matter. Our elected representatives did not make the rules. In fact no elected representatives make the rules. The rules are made by unelected representatives and agreed to (eventually) by elected representatives (who are threatened with punishment if they don’t). Lets stick with the facts – so take the example of Italy – whose elected representatives have passed a budget which the EU Commission has told them must change – under threat of punishment. (See also Greece)….

        I agree with your last point – there are those for whom the EU is like a religion (witness the march this weekend) and the hysteria…And there are those for whom Britain is like a religion. The level of fanaticism is profoundly disturbing…..God have mercy on us….trust not in princes, nor mens sons, in whom there is no stay!

  5. Good article, or post. There’s one analogy you use though that doesn’t fully reflect the enormity of the ambition of the EU political class. You’re not the only one, but the analogy is inadequate. A United States of Europe is a state of being far short of what the EU Commission wants to see, or what the EU is predicated on. One has to understand that in the US political power is not devolved from the top down but is legitimised from the bottom up. The individual states control all areas which are not the preserve of the Federal Government. And below that there are the counties. There can be very substantial differences in criminal and civil and commercial law as among the various states of the union. There is a constitution that is the reference point in relation to points of demarcation between state and federal responsibilities. In other words the system of government in the US is characterised by democracy and the rule of law. Basically, everybody gets elected from the local district attorney upwards. The EU political class though hates elections and does its best to neutralise the outcomes of elections. It hates clearly defined laws and processes. Everything is literally up for grabs. There is no accountability. The EU “Parliament” has no power. The Commission and the Council of Ministers have all the power. If the political class isn’t accountable it becomes ever more dangerous, and government becomes an enemy of the people. I suppose Mr. Rutherford had something to say about that in Lex Rex.

  6. Peter Hitchens has been commentating on this situation for years and he has a good grasp of the nature of the debate, having explained it numerous times on his Mail on Sunday blog. Yesterday’s is particularly potent. He closes it with the following, and if I was a Remainer I’d have difficulty arguing with this:

    “What I want to do is rip up our allegiance to the European Arrest Warrant, a grave breach of our ancient liberties which everyone seems to have completely forgotten about. I want to get rid of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, now our real Supreme Court. And I want to stop rubber-stamping European Commission directives and pretending they are our own laws. And I would also like to shake free of the crazy policy of pushing the EU eastwards into Ukraine and the Caucasus.
    If Brussels and Washington really want a war with Russia, then let them have one. But Britain has no interest at all in reviving this grubby, aggressive conflict, which has already convulsed Europe twice in one century.
    These aims can be achieved by doing what I have now been urging for months – the Norway Option. This needs no permission from Brussels. It formally takes us out of the EU, so fulfilling the referendum vote. It would make the Irish border as relaxed as the current frontier between Norway and Sweden, which is pretty relaxed. It frees us from three-quarters of EU interference in our laws and life.
    It keeps us in the European Economic Area, so there is no risk to the economy. It frees us from the EU’s damaging Common Agricultural Policy and from the daylight robbery of the Common Fisheries Policy. It hugely cuts our contributions to Brussels.
    But, thanks to strident, inflexible groups of MPs whose main concern is their future careers, it has barely been considered.
    I can’t stop them. But if they manage to lead us into chaos and an economic crash, then I shall at least try to make sure that their selfish folly is not forgotten.”

  7. Clueless.
    Clearly, you have no comprehension of how chess is played.
    A good chess player will deploy a variety of moves that are designed to steer their opponent down an ever-narrowing road – eventually forcing them into the only move left – and that results in defeat by checkmate.
    You are falling for every trick in the book – and the Unionists are just as naive.
    You would happily expect Nicola Sturgeon to spell out her game plan for all to see – great plan (not).
    Brexit has been over two years of the Tories treading water, keeping their nose just above the water line as they play for time.
    They have been chasing a “no deal” Brexit from the word go. To disguise this unpalatable outcome, they have been going around in circles, playing all their dumb supporters for the fools they are.
    Eventually, the EU will be painted as the baddie – and provide the perfect scapegoat to deliver that no deal result.
    The SNP know this.
    That’s why they can promote so many anti-Brexit alternatives – they know there will be no chance of the UK gov deflecting from its mission to take the UK over the cliff.
    It’s all about winning hearts and minds.
    After the Brexit shitstorm begins to bite the man in the street, the historic performance of the SNP standing up for a Brexit that incorporated the CU and free movement will be capitalised on.
    The only alternative to most Scots by then will be independence.
    Ffs get with the program.
    If you want to gain respect from your blog, you better start thinking stuff through a bit better and stop promoting division and misinformation – music to the ears of the Unionists.

    1. Actually I am a tournament chess player with a rating of 1500. I know how chess is played.
      Its certainly not by blind faith. (I believe, I believe that Nicola has a great master plan which will make us win). I don’t think Nicola is a master player…in fact I don’t think she knows what she is doing. She has destroyed any hope of Indy and given it up for some kind of EU fantasy. Theresa May and others do not want a no deal. She is a Remainer and what she wants is irrelevant anyway – she is as clueless as Nicola. The EU will get what it wants and Britain will remain in the EU in all but name.

      Being in the EU, CU or whatever means that we will not be independent. Being a region of the EU is not Indy.

      Your last point is quite chilling. Has the SNP really become a cult (trust Nicola, do what you’re told, don’t dare question)? I think through things a great deal….thats my problem….I havn’t swallowed the pills.

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