National’s Army Is On The Move

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THE TRICK IN POLITICS, as in war, is to know where your enemy is today – not where he was yesterday. An even more useful trick is knowing where he will be tomorrow. The Daily Blog’s editor, Martyn Bradbury, is certain that the Jacinda Ardern-led Government’s current political position is unassailable. In justification, he points to the most recent state-of-the-parties polling and (with even more emphasis) to Ipsos’s just-released polling on “the issues”. All of these surveys show Labour in a commanding political position vis-à-vis their National Party opponent. Were the General Election to be held this week, Labour would be returned by a landslide.

Unfortunately, the General Election is 120 days away.

The National Party’s new leader, Todd Muller, is similarly perceived by Martyn as representing no serious threat to Jacinda’s dominant political position. His inspired meme equating Muller’s “desperate” leadership coup with Gollum’s last-minute acquisition of “The Precious” above the all-consuming fires of Mount Doom, speaks to his conviction that regardless of who its leader might be, National’s defeat has become inevitable.

The question I would put to Martyn is simple: If defeat is inevitable, then why not let Simon Bridges carry the can? Why would the National Party caucus, along with the National Party Board, risk a player as highly regarded as Muller by committing him to a fight he cannot hope to win? Surely, if Muller represents the best interests of his party – ideologically as well as electorally – then the smart move would be to hold him in reserve for the process of rebuilding, which defeat on the scale anticipated by Martyn would necessarily entail?

Martyn may well respond that Muller’s job in 2020 is the same as Mike Moore’s in 1990: to “save the furniture” – i.e. to forestall the utter collapse of his party’s vote and keep it at least vaguely competitive for future political contests. This is not an implausible explanation, but I believe the true answer lies elsewhere. What the “save the furniture” explanation misses is the seriousness of the danger posed to National’s long-term future by Simon Bridges’ leadership.

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Over the course of the 27 months Bridges led the National Opposition, the sense of unease among both party members and supporters regarding its direction of travel was palpable. Moderate conservatives across the country became convinced that the Simon Bridges-Paula Bennett-led National Party was veering further and further to the right. Concern that a far-right faction, drawing its inspiration from Donald Trump’s Republican Party, was growing in strength led first to murmurings, then to outright plotting. Reclaiming control of National became an urgent priority for those convinced that a sudden lurch towards Trumpism would make the party unelectable. Far from seeing Todd Muller as some sort of Gollum figure, National Party centrists began looking forward to his elevation as the return of the king.

The centrists win would have come a lot sooner had they not had to contend with the lingering and very sour aftertaste of 2017. Winston Peters decision – against all precedent – to spurn the party holding the largest number of parliamentary seats in favour of a “coalition of the losers” left a great many National Party members and voters feeling bitter and vengeful. They were looking for someone to inflict serious harm on Labour; someone to make Jacinda Ardern suffer; someone to drive a stake through Winston Peters’ heart. Simon Bridges was that someone and, who knows, had the Covid-19 Pandemic not come along, he might have delivered.

What the Covid-19 crisis made increasingly clear to National members and supporters, however, was that a win by Simon Bridges and his backers would deliver a lot more than the humiliation of Jacinda and her Labour Party. There was something else lurking at the back of Bridges’ policy positions – something unpleasant. The National Party he led wasn’t asking people to use their votes as tools, he was urging them to use their votes as weapons.

As the implications of this shift began to sink in, National’s numbers began to collapse. Simon Bridges was seen as hopelessly out of step with the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders’ support for Jacinda’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. With each of his tone-deaf utterances more-and-more former National voters began to contemplate the unthinkable prospect of actually voting Labour.

Which is how the electoral battlefield looked immediately prior to Todd Muller’s coup. It would be most unwise, however, to assume that it will look the same in 120 days’ time.

A week or so ago I wrote emotionally about Labour “coming home”. Grant Robertson’s Budget Speech made it clear that his party had moved beyond the neoliberal economic and social settings which have guided it since 1984. No matter how great the imaginative effort required, it behoves the Left to put itself in the shoes of the ordinary, decent National Party voter now that Simon’s gone and Todd is in charge. For a great many of them it will also seem as if their party, the party of Keith Holyoake, Jim Bolger, John Key and Bill English, has “come home” to its core values.

Over the course of the next 120 days, the chances that tens-of-thousands of National’s erstwhile supporters will follow suit must be regarded as very high. The easy victory over a Bridges-led National Party that Martyn had every cause to anticipate just a few days ago is no longer in the offing. Our enemy’s position has changed. His numbers are swelling. A forced march to the left and an audacious outflanking manoeuvre can now be expected.

Slap in a fresh clip, comrades. We have a fight on our hands.

 

 

45 COMMENTS

  1. Wrong Chris! It’s in the bag. Crack open the bubbly. Martyn and his followers have it all figured out. So much so, they already indulge themselves with cocksure belly laughs at Todd ‘Who’.
    When it bites them in the bum it will be very painful…at least you knew it could happen.

  2. Personally I thought two things were at play:

    1, All was not well in National caucus. But Nationals legendary facade to look united and the plain fear of what happens in that party dare one speak out masked what had been fault lines everywhere.

    2, They just panicked.

    The Nats had been leading, up until Covid19, Bridges maintained their vote but the world changed fast and unavoidably just like it hit tourism and airlines, probably forever. They were starved of headline space with Cindy simply brilliant and there appears no comebacks to Labours strategy and a nasty disease that does not always strike the seemingly expendable elderly, around the world anyway.

    Once the dust settled National was going to claw back some of the vote, 120 days to go as you said. Its just they may not win.

    But the thing of it is this. Their core reason for being is to be in power, and from day one in opposition they have resented being there to the marrow. And the more delusional like Muller and his, one vote more than the other side followers, think power is just a change of leader away.

    But do you really think the many other pretenders in this very divided party who have lusted after the top job they’ve previously shown great interest in are going to kick back now and just chill out? I doubt it!

  3. I also think it’s wrong but for different reasons. There has been no seismic shift in the thinking of the voters. Instead Jacinda has been gifted two crises during her term that she used to great effect to demonstrate how ‘caring’ she was.

    That’s all very nice and fluffy and my suspicion is that it won over a fair number of politically unaligned women….for the moment.

    Muller has now got to make the voter realize that the team behind her is is utterly useless (they are, let’s face it) and the country will face economic disaster in the difficult times that lie ahead if they remain in power.

    Let’s see if he can get that message across

    • Although the team behind Jacinda are ‘utterly useless’ and are engaged in the promotion of counterproductive strategies, we can be 100% certain that what National are offering (and will attempt to enact if elected) is so disconnected from reality it is laughable: vast increases in energy consumption when the world is ‘running on empty’; faster raiding of the commons when the commons are in crisis and some commons have reached the collapse point, e.g. coral reefs; further ghettoisation of the larger cities in NZ; further squandering of resources on boondoggles, and absolute denial of the humungous environmental predicament industrial humans have created, e.g. runaway overheating, the collapse of insect populations when insects are vital to the continuation of life-as-we-know-it, the desperate dependence on burning fossil fuels when extracting them, transporting them, refining them and using them each generates a plethora of problems.

      The denial of reality (well, let’s face, National policy is largely based on unsubstantiated and opinion that is in contradiction with well-established facts) is at the core of everything National now stands for….oh, and barking like dogs at every opportunity.

    • You should be National’s campaign manager Andrew. Get the Heartland hyped up with fond reminiscences about how great National’s team were last time they were in power:

      Send Nick Smith out to some empty fields to talk about his achievements as Housing Minister. Have Gerry Brownlee tour Canterbury so its residents can thank him personally for his sterling work on the Christchurch rebuild. Help Simon Bridges get over his recent knifing by sending him up to Transmission Gully to give us all a lecture on project management. And for the ‘pièce de résistance’ send Judith out with a loud-hailer to talk about getting tough on crime and how she’s going clean up rising corruption. It’ll go down a treat.

      For even more bang for your buck, why not invite Steven Joyce to give a guest speech about his MBIE project as an example of how to save taxpayers’ hard-earned dosh? And how getting “Sir” Bill English in to talk about his South Canterbury Finance bailout to prove that National really are better economic managers?

  4. “The question I would put to Martyn is simple: If defeat is inevitable, then why not let Simon Bridges carry the can?”
    There’s one possible explanation @Chris. And its that the new school gNatz generally are over-ambitious with egos the size of a bus coupled with the sense of entitlement and born-to-rule attitude most gNatz possess.
    As individuals they line up behind anyone they think will improve their chances for power and ‘prestige’. That might be a generalisation but its not that big a one

      • Specially, GreenBus, what is ipso 100% bang on about OWTz comment? Describing Jacinda as centrist or cindy or gnats or what ever is ridiculously reductive and patronising to both Jacinda and the people. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from post modern click bait journos particularly ones at the standard so what ever.

        The reality is that Jacinda is a classic example of the reluctant hero who gets whipped up on a heroes journey. When she started out in Morrinsville she’s young and idealistic and inexperienced just a till operator living a sheltered life in the ass end of nowheresville and harbours romantic notions of curing child poverty. Her first steps out as Prime Minister is reluctant and faltering and lacks the knowledge to navigate a dangerous world and gets herself into situations she can’t handle and it takes the guidance of an older and wiser mentor (Helen Clark) to get her started on the correct path. The first time she holds a press conference or commands troops into the field or charters a plane is kind of clumsy and awkward and she had to learn fast in order to keep everything moving, growing in confidence along the way. Her actions are entirely consistent with what we know about her personality and background.

        By the time Jacinda’s second general election she’s looking to expand her power but her impetuous nature and emotional attachments causes her to rush into things her and her Party/coalition isn’t ready for and must pay a heavy price. But by the time voting begins Jacinda must have learnt quickly to temper power with wisdom, compassion and restraint. In short she must complete the heroes journey.

        • “it’s that the new school gNatz generally are over-ambitious with egos the size of a bus coupled with the sense of entitlement and born-to-rule attitude most gNatz possess.” Boom. BTW “Specially, GreenBus, what is ipso 100% bang on about OWTz comment?” WTF does this mean?

  5. Labour is buying votes to win the election. Most people love free money. John Key did it, why not Jacinda?

    It seems to be working unless they run out of money or something else happens… which judging from previous elections it might.

    Seriously now, with the border closed, even he homeless are housed now.

    Another popular move is a change to the building act where no building consents are needed for small construction projects like sleep outs and garages. People love that stuff. Hopefully helps the tiny house movement in NZ.

    Sadly the congestion and pollution will start ramping up post lockdown, road works everywhere ripping up the roads (and kerbs) for corporate profiteering , but for a few months it has been bliss for many essential workers and others.

    My last thought is the America’s cup where in 2013 NZ lost after a 8:1 lead… anything can happen and nothing is won, until it is won…

  6. The whole globalised system is in the process of collapsing; the only question is how fast? Will the system collapse before the NZ election or after?

    A later collapse would allow National to tout its dysfunctional policies to the masses and convince a few more of the scientifically and financially illiterate to believe that infinite growth on a finite planet is still feasible and that transfer of wealth from the less fortunate to the more fortunate is both socially and ethically desirable.

    With ‘complete idiots’ (like Trump and Bolsanaro and state governors who are determined to open up heir economies in the face of extraordinarily long tails on the Covid-19 graphs) and with self-serving liars who really don’t know what they are doing (like Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison) in charge in numerous nations or states, and with the social distancing [necessary to control Covid-19] impossible in numerous others such as India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, most of the Middle East, and all the major cities in the ‘developing world’, the chance that the globalised system will collapse before September is looking greater with every day that passes.

    • The thing is AFKTT what is collapse going to look like and how is it defined. The crisis of neoliberalism revealed itself in the GFC in 2007/8. In the 1930s depression the governments sought to remedy it by balancing the budgets and thus austerity. Everyone was on a gold standard so printing unlimited money was not an option.
      In 2008 this constraint didn’t exist and as far as the banks and the corporate world was concerned the governments just printed more and more to keep the day of reckoning at bay. And though the US tried for a while to reverse the QE by selling back the bonds and stock they had bought to inject money into the ponsey system , it couldn’t and can’t be sustained and massively increased QE is now under way. What this is doing a is massively accelerating the concentration of wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people and companies,
      while an ever greater proportion of the population is closer and closer to destitution. But there are already enough people in that position, homeless and without adequate anything, even in New Zealand, to have amply demonstrated that the economy isn’t working, but the voting majority are still OK and while they are it is clear from comments here and behaviour everywhere that there is no level of misery most people will tolerate for other people if it doesn’t effect them directly. So I am not seeing the point at which printing more and more money and feeding it into the failing banking and speculation industries the John Key is such a master of will meet a natural end.
      It could be that there will become such a majority of people impoverished that they will do something about it, but when people are desperately poor and have nowhere to live they tend to focus their attention o the next scrap of food and where they can get out of the rain rather than macroeconomics and politics, and drop out of the political system .
      If you are reading what I read about how the US in particular run their foreign policy , causing misery and destruction all over the world but especially in the middle east. And how the Palestinians are being treated, it’s quite obvious that the people in power there , and I suspect not only in the US, do not give a rat’s a”” about human suffering and death.
      It looks like it should collapse soon , it looks to be balanced on a needle , but I don’y see what is going to give it the push or when.
      D J S

      • A few of the factors that will give the decrepit system the final push that takes it over the cliff edge and into freefall:

        1. A massive earnings crisis for corporations in the US, many of which are dependent on government handouts to stay afloat.

        2. Widespread bankruptcy and closure of businesses, both big and small.

        3. Rapid overloading of the health systems of smaller communities, as people ignore social distancing rules.

        4. Massive shrinkage of the agricultural system, as processing facilities close or operate at well below optimal capacity as their staff fall ill or fail to turn up for work out of fear of contracting Covid-19, and livestock farmers rid themselves of livestock, whilst grain and bean growers cut their planting schedules in response to low demand and trade wars.

        5. Collapse of the fracking sector, as low international oil prices and oversupply make fracking not viable: widespread bankruptcies and defaults on bonds.

        6. Collapse of retail, as customers stay away, both out of fear and as a consequence of having ‘no money’.

        7. Widespread defaults on mortgages and failure to pay rents/leases.

        8. Collapse of tax revenues and blowout of expenses.

        9. A bloated military budget and a military incapable of carrying out effective action, due to Covid-19 infected ships and bases and obsolete weapon systems.

        10. Inability to recycle dollars through the traditional channels.

        • These 10 are certainly what is happening, and has been happening ever since the GFC and is now accelerating. much of it will catastrophically effect the poor and middle income. But they don’t matter to the powerful. The major companies and financial institutions would have collapsed long ago but for QE. So what stops QE from keeping them alive indefinitely?
          I do also think it will fall over eventually ,but just what will stop the ever increasing flow of new debt money keeping it going I don’t see. Not yet anyway.
          Maybe Jacinda and Winston will show the way for the world to follow and fix it all with kindness and common sense.
          D J S

          • I cant answer your question about what stops QE from keeping those mega companies from going under but what I can tell you is that the health care system in the US cannot with stand what is happening now and will continue for a couple of years. This event is not over. The Insurance companies and owners of Health Care in the US will not recover. The majority of those people who are in hospital, have been in hospital or are dead would never be able to afford to pay for their care. Even if the Trump regime say they dont have to pay. Someone does. Their system including Medicare was unsustainable. Even on Medicare we pay hundreds of $ a month as well as deductables and drug coverage. My husband was hospitalised in Melbourne for a week in Nov because this shithole of a healthcare system did not treat him properly. While it cost $5000US, it saved his life and was a fraction of what they would have charged here. So while you consider all of those ten points keep this in mind. Its not about if the system will collapse, it is when. And if NZrs are stupid enough to put a National idiot back in charge. They deserve all they get. And as far as QE goes to propping up this shit. Lets not forget the FED is a private company.

  7. Nice try.
    ‘God’ loves a trier.
    Anything is possible, but it’s definitely in that category…..anything can of course, happen.
    But it is for Labour to loose this election.
    Think of the AB’s up 80-0 at half time and the commentators are trying their best to stop everyone turning off and doing something else.

  8. “Winston Peters decision – against all precedent – to spurn the party holding the largest number of parliamentary seats in favour of a “coalition of the losers” – left a great many National Party members and voters feeling bitter and vengeful. They were looking for someone to inflict serious harm on Labour; someone to make Jacinda Ardern suffer”

    Ouch Chris – are you promoting a war????

    Bring it on.

    Your question was; ‘If defeat is inevitable, then why not let Simon Bridges carry the can?”

    Because the national backbenches were so scarred to death of loosing their jobs including ‘a place in the public purse trough’ mate; – simple eh?

  9. Some have it that the polls showed that National hadn’t just left the room, they were out of the house and heading further away down the road.

    They were still in the house, in the next room actually. The door which is assumed to be locked and bolted is not. It’s the old batwing saloon door, ready to swing open or not depending on the merest breeze. All it’ll take is one or two moments of dumbness, genius or good luck and the door is off its hinges and a tide will pour in. Or out.

    Great poll numbers in May aren’t much of a life jacket. They’ll just be memories waving goodbye from the shore.

  10. Labour’s support will collapse soon enough IMO and perhaps enough that they might need a coalition partner come October.
    However, they will almost undoubtedly form the next Government.

    • That’s what I’m picking , there will be a tapering off, but the momentum so far will only slightly diminish , because the ‘radical conservatives’ who either hold a grudge or are are tribal true believers among National still only form a relative minority.

      As for collapse?… I dont think so at all.

  11. With Labours “Bribery’ costs skyrocketing out of control. $11.7b for the kinda out of woke, I mean work and kinda unemployed.
    “Kinda” reminds me of S Joyces accusation of Labours $12b ‘hole’ in their budget!
    It looks like we’ve found it!

    I think the next earthquake will shakeout the bullshit thats been happening in Wellingtons Labour HQ shortly.

    • Joyces magical “hole” was a dead cat, looking for a bounce.
      Unless the guy genuinely couldn’t count, which explains a lot of what went on under the last chiNational govt.

      Steven Joyce: “We weren’t corrupt, just incompetent”. Hah!

  12. If no major unforeseen event occurs, another coalition government can realistically be expected in September/October 2020. And if not in this year, then 3 years later, or earlier.

    Under MMP, not achieving a clear majority (> 50%) for a single party, it will be the “coalition block” that decides who will govern, and not the single party with the most votes.

    With its recent and on-going restructuring the NP has set on a pathway being able to form coalitions with ALL other parties that might be re-presented in the new national parliament, if required.

    In such a ‘floating’ situation the difference in the similar sort of neo-liberal party programmatics will not be important, but decisive will be the persons, the leading individuals of those party entities.

    So, the real question is, are NOW those individuals in place to allow National to go into coalition with ANY possible group (potentially including Labour, too) in parliament?

    Given the present party set-up behind all leading contestants, the answer can only be: YES, they are.

    The new personnel structure and the re-configured thematic orientation of the NP clearly indicate that they are working on such models.

    … a critical, socialist and ecological Left left as bystander. Voting cattle.

    What a waste in times of unfolding turbulence.

    System Change. Now.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mvWBsH3h90

    • No CB, Chris’ blog makes sense and Muller epitomises the traditional Tory leader, never a Labour leader. He comes from a farming background where NZ’s aristocrats are bred, and cronies of the same ilk support him (Bolger is one keen backer). They mean business and will isolate and attack every weakness of the government – and their strengths. Amy Adams is staying on and is a good choice to counter Jacinda. Chris Trotter is showing us the way!

  13. Swordfish at The Standard is a meticulous gatherer of political stats and making considered opinions that are valuable.
    https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-26-05-2020/#comment-1715625
    Looks to me like more than 400k voters have switched allegiance from National to Labour since February … a profound realignment … possibly (entering the realm of speculation here) predicated first & foremost upon the gratitude of older voters.

    • Buthchered survey results masquarading as poll results. Colmar are well down the list of accurate predictors of election outcomes …

    • My view is lefties are immune to rightwing charms and if we are going to understand why RWNJ appeal to people I think we need to understand there rhetorical tricks even the way Muller has this corporate accent that is unfamiliar to the conservative base can in a strange sort of way make National Party leaders more credible because at 400k swing voters there’s something else going on than simply Jacinda arriving from this great distance to give them all these revealed truths.

      So why bother and why does Jacinda have the kind of pull that she has?

      First of all why bother because there is this tendency by a lot of clued in lefties who are kind of constantly monitoring the situation from Twitter and herding people into ideological pronoun gulags to think that if they have not heard a name for the last 48hrs that they’re for some reason no longer relevant. And there for they no longer need to be debunk and that they no longer have to reach out to people with persuasive arguments and try to take them through what is incorrect about hose arguments.

      And so simply announcing 400k swing voters for Labour I think is a mistake for a few reasons. One of the most obvious mistakes is victory disease, no one likes a person who counts chickens before they’re laid. So even if you think Jacinda will be successful in exposing Muller in the debates and certainly nothing in any debate has been a good look for political ambitions and Simon Bridges is yesterday’s news and well I think y’all are missing a couple things.

      Firstly Jacinda is doing valuable things for left wing politics globally and Muller will discredit Jacinda and thus Muller will be scoring own goals in the sense that Muller will be planting the ball in his own goal by doing primary school book reports on a Marxist communist manifesto before admitting that he hasn’t got an egalitarian strain in his body, he’s not able to do so now, it’s certainly not a good look for Muller at this moment.

      But Jacinda herself just in the intellectual contrast she certainly has value in showing what the economy is to conservatives, and showing what the economy isn’t to progressives. But I think what a lot of commentators miss is the intellectual contrast in the debates where Jacinda posses an unequal power imbalance for instance when she took on Bill English we saw a really good communications graduate go up against a seasoned economics veteran who Jacinda would eventually make him go on and cry in Bills valedictory speech, so unequal.

      Armed with our knew knowledge lefties must be encourage to go out and crack jokes, even if they’re bad jokes say it, engage, make arguments and urge these so called swing voters to do the same and particularly try and find ways to criticise with out humiliating.

  14. On the matter of the imminent collapse of the US, and therefore the globalized systems that depend on the US, Charles Hugh Smith has posted yet another excellent article, in which he points out that rising equity prices (not rising equity values) are the only thing left to fall in the US. But clearly the Trump administration cannot allow the last bastion of ‘American Greatness’ to collapse before the US election.

    Meanwhile everything in the real economy gets wore by the day.

    CHS

    ‘An Economy That Cannot Allow Stocks to Decline Is Too Fragile To Survive

    The fragile ice shelf of speculative bets and debt clinging to the mountainside is making strange creaking sounds– will you listen or will you ignore it because ‘the Fed has our back’?….’

    http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2020/05/an-economy-that-cannot-allow-stocks-to.html

    On the matter of ‘National’s Army Is On The Move’, it is clear from Todd Muller’s performance this morning that ‘the army’ forgot its map and ammunition.

    • That article was interesting and topical AFKTT , thanks. I am reminded though hearing some time ago an interview with Bob Jones in which he made the point that though the 30’s depression is remembered for the initial Wall St crash that seemed to start it off, the share market then quickly recovered and was from then on buoyant throughout the period of the depression. That pattern only needs to repeat itself for the financial elite to remain unaffected by the present looming chaos.
      The architects of the previous depression kept their wealth to finance both sides of WW2. while the Hoi Polloi suffered the poverty as they must and provided the cannon fodder.
      D J S

  15. Breaking News!

    Nekminit! The Royal Imperialist Leader of the Labour party, Heir Winston Peters wants an early election by declaring he wants Level One now!

    • Winston knows that won’t happen “now” so he is quite safe, but he will get support or even votes for that demand without carrying any responsibility for possible health consequences for a premature shift to level 1.

      The move towards gatherings of 100 surely must presuppose we have sufficient trained personnel to do tracking around the country if an outbreak was an aftermath of such a large gathering.

      • South Korea did well in controlling covid19 cases without such a lockdown as NZ has used.

        But now South Korea is having new outbreaks of the disease that are a significant concern to their govt as “eradication” has been claimed on a dip in case numbers which was premature.
        A relaxation of restrictions recently has seen 79 new cases on identified Thursday 28 May. One building now has 4100 occupants under self-isolation. Track and trace of all contacts for these people is slow in spite of the South Korean govt applying its massive resources and trained army of well equipped health workers

        South Korea appears to have brought its first outbreak under control thanks to an extensive “trace, test and treat” program. The worst day was 81 new cases.
        The country endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease and while it never imposed a compulsory lockdown, strict social distancing has been widely observed since March.

        But the well resourced “trace, test and treat” regime is not something NZ can copy as we are not well resourced to do that at this stage.

        NZ cannot withstand premature level 1 and risk a new devastating outbreak.

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