Why Todd Muller – and National – Are Toast.

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TODD MULLER is toast. All the signs are there. The weird contradictions contained in his own public statements. The constant leaking of damaging information from inside his own caucus. The obvious delight of former colleagues as they lower their lifeboats and pull away from National’s sinking ship. The party’s been here before. Unfortunately, it was in 2002.

Just think about Paula Bennett’s bravura exit performance. Dancing up a storm with Tom Sainsbury – as if to say: “You always thought Tom was exaggerating, didn’t you? Nah, the boy never even got close!” There was something very P.J. O’Rourke about Bennett’s departure: something subversively liberating. When right-wingers turn out to have a sense of humour strong enough to make even hard-bitten lefties chortle, it says something very reassuring about our common humanity. Though some of us are loathe to admit it, we are all much more the same than we are different.

One of O’Rourke’s most memorable lines was: “First we got all the money. Then we got all the votes. Now we’ve got all the power!” Bennett’s celebration boogie, in anticipation of Muller’s failure to win O’Rourke’s electoral trifecta, has about it the same bracing honesty. Speaking of her hardcore National colleagues, she once told a startled journalist: “We didn’t come to Wellington to fuck spiders!” And wasn’t that the truth?

Muller’s lack-lustre and self-contradictory performances offer conclusive proof that a political leader cannot be manged into competence. National’s new boss has Janet Wilson handling his media and Matthew Hooton writing his speeches. Both are highly professional political and public relations specialists, and Muller is lucky to have them. But, they can’t be Leader of the Opposition for him.

It was exactly the same with David Cunliffe. Not even Matt McCarten, a.k.a “Mattiavelli”, could transform the ambitious climber who deposed David Shearer into a credible alternative prime minister. In the end, the person has to want the job enough to do what it takes to get it. Also needed is a clear idea of what to do with “all the power” once you’ve got it. This is where Muller falls short. Quoting Mickey Savage is all very well, but when a traditional Catholic talks about “applied Christianity” – what, exactly, does he mean?

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It’s something which, I suspect, Muller’s evangelical Christian colleagues would also like to know. Their right-wing, fundamentalist version of the Christian message would see National taking a very different stance on a broad range of social issues from the one so clearly favoured by Muller and his liberal allies. A couple of months back, David Cormack (another PR maven) offered up his own take on National’s Christian conservatives:

“There is a large bloc in National of Christians with some pretty extreme views. They’re not traditional Christian National Party folk, but more fire and brimstone. Muller is a traditional National Party Christian, he voted No on the abortion bill’s second and third reading, he voted No on all three readings of the euthanasia bill. But he is considered not right wing enough by the large Christian bloc.”

According to Cormack:

“All of the highly conservative Christian MPs want to fight their very own culture wars here in NZ; think GOP level. Staunchly pro-Israel, really strongly anti-abortion, anti-women and gay rights. They want to fight the ‘Marxism’ that they believe has infested our schools, universities and even Labour (!)”

Contrast these hardline views with the gentle conservatism set out by Muller in his Te Puna hometown address in mid-June. Beautifully crafted by Hooton, the speech enunciated a set of values radically at odds with the proudly reactionary beliefs of Chris Penk and his comrades. Reading that speech, Muller’s opponents in the National caucus must have wondered whether their party was any longer big enough for the both of them.

On the one hand stands Muller (and Hooton) eager to keep the two main political parties committed to delivering the same neoliberal lines (albeit with some relatively minor differences in emphasis) that have bound the precious “median voter” to the aspirations of the broad centre of New Zealand politics for the best part of four decades.

On the other hand stand what might best be described as the “radical conservatives”. Their principal objection to the existing neoliberal order is its acceptance of what they see as the immoral and socially-destructive consequences of the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s. With some justification, they see identity politics as intrinsically hostile to the unequal distribution of power and wealth under patriarchal capitalism. Take patriarchy out of the capitalist equation and, in the view of the radical conservatives, it will fall.

These are not the sort of ideas to earn more than a curl of Nikki Kaye’s upper lip. Rightly, she foresees the wholesale rejection of such an avowedly sexist National Party by the overwhelming majority of middle-class Pakeha women. Indeed, it was to forestall such a radical-conservative deviation into Trumpland that the coup against Simon Bridges was mounted. That it succeeded only because the erratic Judith Collins anticipated taking more satisfaction from shafting Bridges and Bennett than from saving them, merely reinforces the scale of the dysfunction currently besetting the National Party.

Such dysfunction is essentially ineradicable by anything other than the annihilation of one of the two contending factions. This is, after all, what happened in the Labour Party when the Rogernomes and their careerist enablers made it more-or-less impossible for the left faction to remain within the party without surrendering their most deeply held convictions.

For National’s radical conservatives, the path to this annihilation solution is clear: engineer a defeat on a par with the disaster of 2002. The principal victims of such a strategy would be the party’s liberal faction. In Lenin’s famous phrase, it would lead to “fewer – but better” National MPs. A solid foundation of radical conservative patriarchal Christian capitalists upon which National’s electoral recovery can be built.

You see now why Todd Muller is toast! Also clear, is why so many National women are now determined to give their votes to Jacinda.

 

44 COMMENTS

  1. So the takeaway is :
    ———————–

    …’ You see now why Todd Muller is toast! Also clear, is why so many National women are now determined to give their votes to Jacinda ‘…

    ———————–

    Interesting analysis. But of course only represents a number of reasons, … I wonder if circumstances had been different ie: no covid pandemic, could the same still be said? Would Bridges been rolled and Muller been allowed his opportunity. I dare say it would have worked out that way. Sooner or later.

    But I would also say in a macabre sort of way,- this incumbent govt has benefited enormously by this unfortunate pandemic. Similar to a govt being in power and being on a war footing. The best example I can think of was Winston Churchill’s government. Yet even he was voted out soon after WW2. So much for loyalty.

    So there we have it, a contrast between a govt who didn’t think they would ever get in yet did, and a govt that thought they could never lose but did. And another Winston had a big part to play in that . 🙂

    The Winston’s have it.

    Joking aside, ever since John Key left out the back door, … Nationals fortunes were seen to be sinking. English led his party to defeat though not in such a humiliating defeat as once before and left also. That set the background for dissension , long held rivalries both personal and factional, to surface. It is no wonder that National descended into internecine warfare such as Ross Muerant makes mention of in his article.

    It seems to be the case in both human and the higher order of mammals such as wolves and lions and primates that once the alpha is deposed there is more often than not a violent reshuffle of the inner circle, the hierarchy and the pecking order.

    In simple terms I suspect this had a lot to do with it. Crude, base and rudimentary an example though it may be. Putting ideologies aside , I suspect the age old determinant of dominant personalty’s also have had much to do with it.

    Animals do it to increase the chances of continuing their offspring ( there’s the political equivalent of garnering the greater share of votes ) often killing off their rivals ( there’s the killing off of opposing ideology’s Chris mentions) and to procure the best hunting lands and thus food , water (thus dominance over political territory’s , trade advantages, and resources)

    Perhaps , – instead of tuning in to parliament we should instead be closely watching again the children’s film ‘ The Lion King ‘ and carefully taking onboard the lessons we can extract when the alpha personality’s are deposed and the following grab for power that ensues…

    The Lion King: Be Prepared
    https://youtu.be/zPUe7O3ODHQ?t=25

  2. What’s become inescapable is what National believe is their only gateway to becoming Government. Undermine and destroy the 93% approval rating Ardern had for her handling of the Covid crisis. It’s simplistic, incredibly negative, boring, devoid of vision and attacks the very person NZ has embraced for helping to keep them and their loved ones safe while the rest of the world is in free fall. Muller has said absolutely nothing to embrace or inspire. Tearing down is his only plan and kiwis have already had a guts full of it.

    We all make blunders in life. It’s part of being human. What matters next is if you own that blunder and what you do to avoid a repeat. We all accept that Ardern can’t be in more than one place at a time and has a to do list bigger than any NZ PM has had since at least WWII. There was an understanding and expectation that protocols would be followed with “kiwis” returning from overseas, especially from Covid hotspots. That didn’t happen. Who’s to blame? The people with reasonable expectations or those that gave the free passes? Ardern and Bloomfield get the blame despite both having clean hands and both being incensed by what unfolded. They both express their frustration and repeatedly state it’s unacceptable. That’s called taking ownership. Not a single “denial or I can’t recall”.

    They immediately put measures in place to avoid a repeat and that’s been successful. In my world and that of many other Kiwi’s, Ardern and Bloomfield couldn’t have done more or better. Time to move on…..but not for National and not for their cheerleaders within the NZ media. It’s exactly what they wanted to attack and undermine Ardern at any price. If kiwi’s become anxious about a second lockdown, it plays right into National’s hands in fact, that is their very deliberate intent. Only desperate shitheels bereft of personal integrity would stoop to that level.

    Muller’s go to undermining words are shambles and shambolic. His first interview with John Campbell highlighted exactly what National now have leading them. It was embarrassing to watch and to have it confirmed that National believe that person was their best option. He’s clearly even worse than Bridges. We all know Bridges as the man that ran out and barked at every passing car. Muller doesn’t do that. He’s completely different. He runs out and barks at the same car over and over and over and over etc etc etc.

    Campbell wanted Muller to explain the time frame he wanted to open up the borders rather than just incessantly attack the Government’s plan which is safe, slow and steady wins the race. Muller then repeatedly stood on his own feet and spouted a whole lot of nothing as per usual. In the space of 90 seconds, he used the words shambles and shambolic five times. It was desperate broken record cringe on an epic scale. He got some traction for a couple of days early on but that ship sailed weeks ago yet Muller hasn’t registered that and is still desperately clinging to it like a wardrobe door in the water next to the sinking Titanic. it was painful and pitiful to witness.

    No wonder so many National MP’s are leaking to media and or retiring. They can see the writing on the wall. Despite all the considerable media assistance National has enjoyed, they are on the cusp of a wipe out in September. Luxon just can’t come fast enough for them. The big question for September is no longer who will win. That’s done and dusted. It’s how badly will National do? I confidently predict with some certainty that it will be an unprecedented wipe out for National. Many will celebrate that and rightfully so. Time for National to far koff and go reinvent it’s self. Here’s some hints for their rebuild. Come up with some forward thinking inclusive policies. Get yourself a leader who knows which way is up. Kick arrogance, selfishness, divisiveness and dirty politics to the curb.

    If people out there still have unresolved frustration over Covid-19 in NZ. I suggest they direct it firstly at the original source of the outbreak and then at the selfish gits who have returned to NZ recently, dined out on the taxpayer, but refused to have a Covid test and have given incredibly unhelpful bullshit contact details. That is not the kiwi way and is a situation in urgent need of attention.

    • jacindafan “In the space of 90 seconds, he used the words shambles and shambolic five times. ” Yes !

      It was when I saw this, that I saw a fish floundering in shallow water. If Hooton – or whoever’s doing the hooting – thought they could make the public see a shambles where none existed, then they are dumber than they think we are. They clearly lives divorced from the practical reality of how urban dwellers in particular, overwhelmingly restricted and disciplined our lives to keep to protocols in the common interest – which was never a concern of neolibs anyway.

      The returnees who refuse testing, I do think have the right to refuse. This does not excuse their irresponsible and selfish behavior. They should all be being formally cautioned that in the event of a future virus contamination being traced back to them, then they may face legal action – I think they should.

      Passport details could enable tracking lowlifes who give bullshit contact details, and criminal charges should follow. Immigrants found guilty of criminal charges should forfeit their NZ citizenship and be sent back to where they came from.

      Attacking Ardern is the wrong tactic – there’s a better one, but let them try figure that for themselves.

  3. Chris, it really hurts me to say this, but you’re correct. Muller is awful – one of the most underwhelming characters I have ever seen on a political stage. How the hell can a person have aspirations for political leadership without doing media training?

    So it’s looking like we face three years of a Labour/Green coalition and before you cheer, just be careful what you wish for. They have the potential to lay waste to the economy and leave the country a much poorer, sadder place.

    • “the potential to lay waste to the economy and leave the country a much poorer, sadder place”…. every political party has the “potential”, Andrew. However it was the nats who actually fulfilled their potential in their last term. Or didn’t you notice?

    • I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you can recover the economy, you can’t recover from being dead! Thankfully Labour are at the helm through covid because the mixed messages by National would leave both our economy and death rate much the poorer.

  4. Muller needs to brush up his act; the Trump comedy circus is far ahead in its joke policies and irrational ranting. It’s a pity about the human and environmental toll, but a lot of Americans did ask to be led by a self-serving sociopath (yet again).

    As for the ‘Christian’ aspects of Muller’s platform, we we all know that “God created the Heavens and the Earth and all the creatures, great and small, for people to trash the Earth and exterminate the creatures.”

    Nice one, Todd. Good ‘Christian’ values.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, local and global economic conditions worsen by the hour, and the only plank of official policy left operating is capacity and willingness of the Fed (and other central banks) to keep pumping air into the leaking balloon to prevent it from sagging into nothingness.

    Perhaps Muller needs to follow ‘the master’ of covidiocy to make a mark:

    ‘US reports record one-day increase in Covid-19 cases as Trump stays silent [on coronavirus]’

    ‘Concerns mount over Trump’s handling of the crisis as he posts erratic tweets attacking the media and Democrats’

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/01/us-coronavirus-cases-record-one-day-increase-trump-silent

    Erratic -there Muller. Go for it. Instead of ‘He runs out and barks at the same car over and over and over and over etc etc etc.’ he could try keeping everyone on their toes by jumping incoherently from subject to subject. At least it would be more amusing than the utterly boring drivel he’s been coming up with.

    Toast? Is that with Marmite or Vegemite?

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Thanks for nothing, National. Now FFS, FO, and don’t come back.

    • David Clark – to borrow your language AFKTT:
      Good riddance to bad rubbish. Thanks for nothing. Now FFS, FO, and don’t come back.

        • No argument from me on that one. Just commenting that there is no need to resort to FFS, FO, Bad rubbish language from anyone here.
          Betcha AKFTT wouldn’t say Fuck Off, For Fuck Sake and Good Riddance Bad Rubbish to Muller’s face – or anyone else for that matter.

          • If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen, Herman.

            Quote from the above article: Speaking of her hardcore National colleagues, she once told a startled journalist: “We didn’t come to Wellington to fuck spiders!”

            In the time I have lived in NZ (coming up to 50 years) I have never known National to be anything other than a bunch of self-serving lying arseholes who have displayed gross incompetence in managing the economy and extreme negligence and worse with respect to the environment..

            You bet I’d say that (and more) to Muller face to face.

            Of course National party members hide walls of bodyguards, behind highly controlled agendas chaired by pro-National chairpersons, and behind the manipulative mainstream media rather than be upfront up and debate anything properly…because they haven’t got a legs to stand on and don’t know what they’re talking about most of the time. I find them all utterly contemptible because they don’t debate anything. Indeed, they seem to have great difficulty thinking logically at all.

  5. Just on the bit where you were talking about the religious aspects of politics.
    A politician’s religious affiliations is a subject that only seems to pop up shortly before an election, and otherwise is ignored. Suddenly all these closet Catholics, Methodists, etc. suddenly start declaring how their faith guides them, when apparently it didn’t do so any other time.
    An old school friend of mine who used to attend church regularly as a boy told me that the only time he ever saw the Mayor in church was a couple of Sundays before voting day.
    I always think that politicians who start talking about their religion are betraying their lack of confidence in what they doing and what they hope to achieve. The belief that God is guiding you is a kind of cop out, an excuse for doing what you like when it suits you.
    Well as an atheist, that’s what I believe.

    • God also absolves the faithful from taking responsibility for making important decisions that we all have to make sometimes. They pray and go to the scriptures instead. When often what is needed is a proper assessment of the situation and the scriptures don’t have the answer. It can be an abdication of their responsibilities.
      D J S

      • When a few clever Romans wrote the four books to base a new religion on that would bind together a common path for several diverse belief systems held by groups in revolt with their rulers, the success experienced gave rise to expanding the “new” religion to include many other pagan festivals and beliefs to be encompassed in that fabrication.
        That success became institutionalises to form the most wealthy organisation the world has ever known.
        The complexity of prophetic utterances embodied are open to so many mutually exclusive interpretations that many groups have evolved with their own organisations but based on the same material.

        Easter for example goes back more that 13,000 years in folklore as the time in the celestial calendar that one star disappears and three days later a new one appears. So that marked a season ending in death of a star ( or sun) and a new one arising. Simple stuff. Today we use a calendar.

  6. I still believe this is the election to lose if there is ever one to lose. The heavy lifting for NZ comes after the pandemic is finished not beforehand. At the moment the economic response from all western nations has been spend, spend, spend. At some stage you have to have a plan to remove all the subsidies, create jobs and pay down debt to sustainable levels – this is Labour’s Achilles heal and will only be exploited after the election not beforehand.

    National don’t seem to want to release brave policies despite there being fertile ground such as law and Order, Treaty obligations, corporate welfare, welfare itself and the economy. The pitch so far, vote for us we are a little less shit hasn’t unsurprisingly gained traction.

  7. I think you are way under estimating the stupidity and selfishness of the average NZ voter. If National are using the same consultants as Boris in the UK and Morrison in Australia then it will be a very close election in NZ in September.

    • Agreed. This time last year my Aunt in Australia was very much looking forward to the forthcoming Labor government and the imminent demise of ScoMo and the LNP. Sportsbet had set odds for Labor at $1.25 and the LNP at $6. We all know what happened after that. I’m taking nothing for granted with the New Zealand election until the votes are in and the counting has been finished.

  8. Really! Andrew what a load of bollocks, had it not been for Labour under Clarke leaving very little overseas debt and a surplus, National (who still claim to be good economic managers) would have left us totally broke. They racked up huge debt, sold our assets and ran down all of our state services. To add to our woes they brought in a million workers to help their mates and drive down wages. And we saw the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and Maori and PI inequalities coming to the fore once again, as they do every time national get back in power. And to make matters worse National saying ‘there is no housing crisis’. So who really leaves our country in a much poorer sadder state?

  9. Its the NZ voter who is toast. Faced with globalist neo liberal policy from both of the main parties and a good number of the smaller ones too. For me voting has never seemed so irrelevant.

  10. I’m still going with the my “Muller patsy” theory. National know they are going to lose the coming election. The chosen one, hand-groomed by The John Key, Simon Bridges, needed to be protected from a crushing defeat so he could rise like a phoenix from the ashes in the future (it is extremely difficult to become leader again once you’ve lost a General Election – I think Bill English is the only two-time loser in NZ history). Muller is patsy, only only there to save Bridges from this election cycle.

  11. Peter Bradley, I think the average NZ voter is more lazy and greedy than selfish and stupid. And as for having the same consultants as Boris and Morris nah! it won’t work cause both countries have failed to control the virus so far.

  12. There is a large bloc in National of Christians with some pretty extreme views. They’re not traditional Christian National Party folk, but more fire and brimstone. Muller is a traditional National Party Christian, he voted No on the abortion bill’s second and third reading, he voted No on all three readings of the euthanasia bill. But he is considered not right wing enough by the large Christian bloc.

    These types of ‘xians’ are, according to their own Good Book, going to hell. This is because they’re all corrupt, they all engage in lies and theft and, finally, they’re all guilty of that deadly sin: Greed.

  13. So many so sanguine about a labour victory. I remember the 1960’s when kiwis repeatedly voted in a corrupt nancy boy greedhead despite all the unpublished but well known stories of corrupt deals for by-passes through PM’s property, incidents at public toilets etc when so-called ‘homosexualists’ were publicly despised.
    Given the that lamentable state of Aotearoa’s media then, still continues today I would not be surprised to see kiwis queuing up to vote for the natz come a general election.

    Most of us have no clue as to what Aotearoa’s politicians are up to at any given time, which is amazing since that there is only two degrees of separation between us all.
    Name a kiwi pol, and it is highly likely that any kiwi will know a human who knows that pol.

    The mall size of Aotearoa’s population indicates that we should be the best informed about our pols, yet thanks to our 100% pay to play media, most of us have no idea of the true character of any of our pols. And that is entirely our own fault.
    Anyone with half a brain knows that news outlets make their money by convincing citizens to support ventures that are counter to news consumers’ best interests, yet few if any of us are prepared to make the least effort to shift that paradigm.

    • “Most of us have no clue as to what Aotearoa’s politicians are up to at any given time.”

      You are right. For a couple of years we’ve had the part-time PM story and on some sites the ‘laziest PM in history.’ The PM would have a more demanding schedule than most could imagine, the level and range of interactions and types of activities to be involved in over a day.

      The ignorant have her swanning to photo op after photo op with nothing happening in-between.

      On the other hand all the National MPs are heads down bums up ‘working hard’ doing whatever they do, wile the lot on the other side ar doing nothing. Go figure.

  14. OK, so Captain Todd moved Soimun Brudges back into the 1st XV, as Captain Todd’s National Titanic Princess sinks slowly, with contagion on board. National has always needed a number 13 with iwi affiliations, ever since Paula left on Tuesday.

    And it’s about time too. Soimun Brudges languished at number one in the party, ever since he was driven down to Wellington, during Level 4, because Tauranga’s piss-poor, pakaru internet couldn’t handle Zoom calls during Covid.

    Is Soimun Brudges at Number 13 on merit? Or is it because Todd wants a Maori to replace Paula’s departure back to the west?

    Is Soimun Brudges there to rearrange the deckchairs on the National Titanic Princess? Or is this some cheap homage to Soimun Brudges’ political skills, or just his ancestral skills?

    If it stinks like 4 day old white potato salad on the National Titanic Princess, and looks like 4 day old kumara salad, it’s still Todd Muller, listening to the captain Sir John Key, the owner of the durty polutucks National Titanic Princess.

    Sir John Key’s cabin boy Chris Luxon is keeping quiet. Some say he is rifling through his own and his wife’s family tree diagrams down in the National Titanic Princess’s bowels, looking for some, for even the hint of iwi links. He has enlisted the other cabin tane, Paul Goldsmith, who is an absolute tohunga and taonga, when it comes to iwi affiliations.

    The National Titanic Princess, needs to be run up on a beach in India, stripped of all its precious wires, gas bags, gas bottles, the flotsam and jetsam of neoliberal politics. The mottley, muttley bridge wanted a low-wage economy, serfs and slaves working on farms and in fruit-picking, Indian and Chinese governments sending in Guaranteed-Covid-Free students. It’s ironic justice that the National Titanic Princess would end up on a beach in India, hopefully with the crew intact and still on board, Todd, Crusher, Soimun, Woodhouse, Bishop and all the jolly hockey-sticks gang….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOmtFN1bfZ8

    But we’re getting off topic. Todd re-promoted Soimun Brudges for his race. Todd was willing to knee-cap Soimun and Paula last month, and when it was pointed out 13 and a half (Sorry Paora) were whiter than Trump’s entourage outside St John’s Church, the durty politics brigade has a FFS moment.

    Who can we promote that is coloured? Or even slightly tanned. After All Black Lives Matter (now, but not last month!).

    Life’s all about dirty politics for National. But at least we have a Bridges on the bridge of the National Titanic Princess.

    As Hosking would say, in his own inimitable way “Happy Days!”

  15. Actually think you too far removed to get real untainted idea of how general public is feeling right now…the gist i get down in cheap seats t is that Nats doing well and Labour on back foot….and after any major event such as covid eventually media and public will be looking for a human figure too blame, Aderns fall will be as historic as her rise

  16. While your headline may be a prediction, your final statement shouldn’t be assumed. There is no doubt that a large group of middle aged women are disillusioned with the National Party, and are looking for innovation and intellect in the leadership, and are sick of conservative white males at the helm. We are women who admired the PM’s ability to communicate, to manage the media and her calm clear directives during lockdown. We’re also women who had babies and ran companies 30 years ago, who are action oriented because we had to fit lots into our lives to have a hard won career. We don’t like being patronised. We like kindness, and reject indecision. We knew the borders didn’t close soon enough as we completed business trips into NZ in March and yet are grateful for our Level 1 status at this time. We’re socially flexible, secular, environmentally concerned, tech savvy, family friendly, innovative and despite being historically National leaning, are struggling to cast our vote there. Yet we won’t vote Labour. That’s based on track record, MMP alliances, indecision and a lack of confidence in Labour driving an economy. It’s dangerous to assume our vote will go to Labour because of adoration of the PM. Our starry eyed daughters might vote for her. We are the group of voters who will decide on the day.

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