Scottish independence: Holyrood debate marks one year to referendum

 
Alex Salmond in the parliament Alex Salmond made his pitch for independence with exactly a year to go before the referendum on Scotland's future

First Minister Alex Salmond has urged Scottish voters to grab the opportunity of independence with "both hands".

Speaking in a parliamentary debate exactly a year before the referendum on Scotland's future, he said people living in the country were best placed to make decisions about it.

On 18 September 2014, they will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The SNP's opponents said Scotland was stronger as part of the UK.

Opposition parties who support the Union - Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, as well as the Westminster government - said Scotland, with a devolved parliament as part of the Union, benefitted from having "the best of both worlds".

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Salmond said: "We are a country rich in natural resources, with world class universities, an outstanding visitor industry, expertise in engineering and life sciences, an astounding cultural heritage and a skilled and inventive people.

"Independence lets us build on that. We gain the chance to make Scotland fairer, unhindered by a Westminster system which has created one of the largest gaps between rich and poor in the developed world."

Alex Salmond knows to steer clear of Braveheart rhetoric.

He knows that, while it might enthuse the fervent, it can also tend to deter the undecided or the wavering. Of whom, there are plenty.

So his contribution was to argue for independence as part of a continuum: a development of existing devolved powers into all areas of public life. Again, an effort to reassure the fretful.

Mr Salmond argued that devolution had shown that Holyrood could take sensible decisions in line with the consensus of Scottish thinking - under former administrations as well as his own.

That, he said, argued for full independence with all decisions affecting Scotland best taken by the people who live there.

It was, he said, "a common sense position based on experience." Nothing to fear.

Mr Salmond said, under independence, Scotland would gain control of welfare, borrowing, economic regulation and taxes, and energy policy.

At the same time, he said, the country would gain its own voice in the United Nations, Nato and the European Union.

The first minister also said independence would address a "democratic deficit" brought about by Westminster governments and parliaments which had brought in policies opposed by Scottish politicians.

He told MSPs: "Independence is about giving ourselves the power to make our country as good as it can be; it's about the right to decide, the ability to make choices.

"And this government's argument - our fundamental, our most important contention - is that the people who live and work in Scotland are the people most likely to make the right choices for Scotland.

"It is not an argument that is subject to statistical manipulation, it is not an argument for a day's headlines, it is not an argument born of fear. It is a common sense position based on experience."

Start Quote

It's because I'm a proud Scot, not despite it, that I support Scotland remaining strong in the United Kingdom”

End Quote Johann Lamont Scottish Labour leader

He added: "That is why independence is the best route not just to becoming a more prosperous country but to becoming a more just society. And that is why - exactly a year from today - the people of Scotland will claim that opportunity with both hands."

The Scottish government's detailed case for independence will come in a white paper to be published in the autumn which has promised to "answer all the questions people reasonably have".

But Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said that kind information should be made public sooner.

She said: "It's because I'm a proud Scot, not despite it, that I support Scotland remaining strong in the United Kingdom.

"My head tells me it's right, but my heart cries out for co-operation and not division."

Ms Lamont said of the SNP's vision: "The truth is this - regardless of the economic circumstances, on high days and holidays, in good times and bad, the SNP hold on to their belief in independence.

"It's not a response to the banking crisis, not a response to foreign wars, not a response to a Tory government - it is the politics of nationalism looking for a justification for a belief held when all else changes, regardless of what the evidence says."

From Democracy Live: Alex Salmond leads the Scotland's future debate

She told Holyrood: "The SNP say they speak for Scottish values, but the values of community, of co-operation, of being a good neighbour, of solidarity, are embodied in the United Kingdom, not repudiated by it."

Opposition parties claimed the SNP government had watered down its vision for independence to increase support among voters during a time when polls were indicating most people backed the Union.

They pointed to SNP policies such as keeping the pound and the services of the Bank of England under a "currency union" with the rest of the UK, and retaining the Queen as head of state.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said an independent Scotland would be forced to create a "poor facsimile" of UK-wide institutions which already existed.

Alex Salmond's motion, passed in the Scottish Parliament by 66 votes to 49

"The Parliament agrees that Scotland has an abundance of resources and talent and can more than afford to be a successful, thriving independent country; notes that successive UK administrations have pursued an economic policy that has led to the UK having one of the most unbalanced and unequal economies in the developed world; agrees that it is wrong and costly for policies to be imposed on Scotland that have been overwhelmingly rejected by Scotland's political representatives, and welcomes evidence that shows that there are gains for families and communities when decisions about Scotland are taken by those who care most about Scotland, the people who live and work here."

She said: "I believe in ensuring the greatest opportunity and prosperity for people in the future."

Ms Davidson argued the UK economy had withstood the economic shocks which had resulted in serious consequences for other European nations, while also being capable of long-term growth.

"We have prospered through our partnership with the other home nations and we continue to do so," she said.

"The first minister likes to convey a sense that, under independence, everything would change but nothing would change.

"If we were to leave the United Kingdom, it would inevitably mean different rules on sides of the border. Different financial regulations, different employment laws, different insurance requirements, different tax authorities, different accreditations and qualifications which small companies would be obliged to contend.

"These are all barriers to trade, they're all obstructions to economic growth they're impediments to job creation in Scotland that we all want to see."

For the Liberal Democrats, MSP Tavish Scott said many doubted whether the government's independence white paper would have all the answers, adding: "The one certainty is uncertainty."

"On every area of policy, independence is a walk in the dark. It is opening a door into a pitch black room and trying to find the door on the other side. We may never come out."

Mr Scott continued: "But the one certainty is, the door marked UK will be locked forever there is no way back - on that, I entirely agree with Mr Salmond.

"I do not believe most Scots will enter that room. For the faults of the present, flawed system of democracy we have the majority, the great majority will stay with the best of both worlds.

"Scots want a Scottish parliament with more powers doing more things, but within the larger family of the UK."

But Independent MSP Margo MacDonald said independence would make Scotland better, adding: "It may well be that there was an argument at one point for the total community of the United Kingdom having one economy.

"There isn't now, there's too much of a difference. Particularly between the south east of England and the rest of us."

And Green MSP Patrick Harvie, whose party also back independence, said: "The prospect of taking responsibility for areas such as welfare, taxation, defence and foreign policy opens up the possibility of real change, while a 'No' vote does not."

The debate came as one of Mr Salmond's former special advisers raised concern that the SNP leadership had so far relied on winning hearts, without enough focus on winning minds.

Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Alex Bell, a former Scottish government head of policy who worked on the independence white paper for two years said: "The campaigns to date have been a tedious parade of union flags versus saltires, of pop identity about caring Scots versus heartless Tories.

Generation 2014

Young voters

What do young voters want their country to be like in 10 years' time?

"By insisting on something particular to Scotland and contrasting it to the UK, Salmond has denied a crucial truth about the debate: Scotland's problems are common to the developed world, and the questions for him are the same as those for David Cameron and Ed Miliband."

Responding to his comments, Deputy Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "With the greatest respect to Alex - (someone) I think very highly of - I'm responsible in government for the white paper, and when the white paper's published in November, I think it will set out - I know it will set out - a very strong case for independence."

Meanwhile, the official campaigns for independence and the Union - Yes Scotland and Better Together - also marked the day.

Yes Scotland chief Blair Jenkins, said: "Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK as whole in each and every one of the last 30 years.

"The question is, why more people in Scotland are not reaping the benefits of our wealth?

Former chancellor Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, countered: "I hope that the nationalists will be prepared to give people answers to the many question that they have about the impact of going it alone on our jobs, our pensions and our public services.

"Up until now every one of these legitimate questions has either been met with calls of 'scaremongering' or with a blind assertion."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 884.

    Roll on an English Government (which Scottish independance will bring closer), at present the English have no say, we are the 2nd class un-heard citizens of the union, even my MP in England is Scottish!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 883.

    871.Serk
    Solar panels in UK can never hope to pay their way. So for most people would be a complete and unaffordable waste of money. The further away from the equator you get the less efficient they become. They will have a life span of around 20 years and need replacing.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 882.

    @872.chomntaille
    People born in Ireland pre-inependance in Ireland remained British after independance, this was confirmed by a couple of later nationality acts, of course they also became citizens of Eire. Any attempt to deprive people of their citizenship would result in long queue of ECHR cases which the UK Govt would almost certainly lose

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 881.

    England needs to embrace devolution and decentralisation of power away from London. I am sick of the North being ignored, not just Scotland but the North of England in terms of major government capital projects in our infastructure. If England doesn't get on board then the Union is over. The North needs to stand together against London's tyranny and corruption and say no more.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 880.

    Foreign investment in "Scottish" oil proves how attractive Scotland is, and "when we are independent we'll all benefit from the oil and gas, instead of the rubbish old English." Surely the people who will benefit from the oil and gas will be - er? - the foreign investors? I'm sorry - I love Scotland and everything, but the arguments are idiotic in favour of devolution.

 

Comments 5 of 884

 

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    Conservative leader Ruth Davidson's followers have more than doubled from 5,902 to 14,901, while Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie's followers have risen from 4,188 to 5,405.

     
  50.  
    Commonwealth silver medallist @EilidhChild Fairy stressful

    Eilidh tweets: Horrible moment when your recovery drink tastes of fairy liquid because you haven't rinsed the bottle properly #athleteproblems

     
  51.  
    Get Involved BBC Scotland News

    Asbestos, assault, golf balls or potholes? Tell us what your council has paid you damages for - email marc.ellison01@bbc.co.uk

     
  52.  
    10:53: Bus and three cars in A9 crash

    A bus and three cars have been involved in an accident on the A9 near Inverness.

    The crash happened at 07:45 about a mile north of the Black Isle side of the Kessock Bridge

    Crash on A9

    The incident caused tailbacks for a time.

    There are no details at this stage of whether anyone was injured in the accident.

     
  53.  
    Text us on 80295 Home-cooked food - Your Views

    Angela, Helensburgh: My three girls live on homemade food. It can be quicker than ready meals and definitely tastier. I made four homemade pizzas last night and I was working all day. I find frozen chips and nuggets just don't fill them up compared to homemade.

    Ian, Black Isle: With slow cookers and ovens that can be pre-set, all I hear is excuses not to cook real food. It's laziness plain & simple. There has never, ever been a place for ready meals in my house

    David: I work away from home and my wife has recently just started working full time. We have three boys aged 8, 14 and 16. I generally run about all day cooking and cleaning. I've had to learn how to cook from scratch and to be honest quite enjoying it and surprised how easy it can be. When I'm away my wife cooks in bulk at nights or the weekends and freezes it; as long as you are organised you can manage no problem.

     
  54.  
    10:40: Jim Murphy: the new Tony Blair? Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

    Is Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy about to bring back Blairism?

    Jim Murphy

    Read my blog here.

     
  55.  
    Email us: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk Great Tapestry - Get Involved

    Barbara Craxton: Good Lord ! Yes by all means if you wish to throw away money at an astronomical rate then by all means feel free. To spend a cumulative £5m with such a low return in the hopes that people will travel to such a remote location in the hope that it will create a hub is in my opinion insane. I was born in Scotland and live in Vancouver BC Canada. I have no clue where this town you wish to place the tapestry is and the likelihood of me making the journey there is zero. However, if it was in Edinburgh or Glasgow it would be a destination on my list. This is a tapestry of huge historical significance, yes? So put it where it is most accessible to international as well as local tourists. It's hard to fathom there is even a question as to where it should be placed. Dumbfounded.

    Great Tapestry of Scotland

    Mary Daykin: No way is Tweedbank right place unless serious double up for transport with Abbotsford. Could it not be at Abbotsford? There are no other tourist attractions at Tweedbank. Hawick is a good idea.

    The Great Tapestry of Scotland

    EB: It is a case of making this wonderful national piece of art available for view to the greatest number of people. It is obvious that a far greater number of Scots and foreigners will have the opportunity to see the tapestry if housed in either Edinburgh or Glasgow, may also quickly recover costs.

    Send us your views and you can also visit the dedicated South of Scotland live page here.

     
  56.  
    10:18: Baby names - Your Views

    What do you think of the baby name charts?

    Do your choices feature in the top 10? What's the best/worst name you've heard?

    Share your views...

    Scotland Live
     
  57.  
    10:14: Jack & Emily top baby names

    Jack and Emily were the favourite names for babies born in Scotland in 2014.

    It was the seventh year at the top for Jack. Emily rose three places in the rankings to oust Sophie from the number one slot.

    twin girls

    Top 10 boys' names:

    1. Jack
    2. James
    3. Lewis
    4. Oliver
    5. Logan
    6. Daniel
    7. Noah
    8. Charlie
    9. Lucas
    10. Alexander

    Top 10 girls' names:

    1. Emily
    2. Sophie
    3. Olivia
    4. Isla
    5. Jessica
    6. Ava
    7. Amelia
    8. Lucy
    9. Lily
    10. Ella/Sophia (tied in 10th place)

    Fastest climbers in the girls' top 20 were Grace and Freya. Among the boys, Noah, Max and Adam were increasingly popular choices.

     
  58.  
    Food for thought?

    Now on Morning Call. A survey by the Food Standards Agency found that more than 1/3 of Scots no longer cook every day.

    Morning Call

    Listen live to the programme here.

     
  59.  
    09:54: Ice pancake day...

    "Ice pancakes" the size of dinner plates have been found floating on the River Dee in Scotland.

    The strange discovery was made by members of The River Dee Trust at a place called the Lummels Pool at Birse in Aberdeenshire.

    "Ice pancakes"

    River Dee Team biologist Jamie Urquhart said it was thought foam floating about on the water started to freeze and bump together, forming the discs.

    The phenomenon can be found in rivers and in the open sea.

    Mr Urquhart, who found and photographed the "pancakes", said: "What we think happened is this - foam floating about on the water started to freeze, probably at night.

     
  60.  
    09:52: Finance firms 'could still move HQs' BBC Radio Scotland

    A senior figure in the finance sector has warned that firms could move their legal headquarters out of Scotland due to continuing political uncertainty.

    Jeremy Peat, the former chief economist of the Royal Bank of Scotland, says more should be done to retain highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs - even if headquarters are shifted.

    RBS sign

    He told Good Morning Scotland: "I think the risk continues broadly as it was, in many ways.

    "I think if you are a financial service sector company selling products across the United Kingdom and there are risks that the regulatory environment will change in Scotland, that the legal environment may change you may prefer to have your formal head office in London or elsewhere in England in order to sell products to an English base."

     
  61.  
    09:37: Nursery damaged by fire

    A nursery has been badly damaged after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.

    About 25 firefighters tackled the overnight blaze at Mossvale Nursery in Paisley.

    The alarm was raised just before 02:00, with crews bringing the fire under control at about 04:30.

    Fire crews managed to contain the fire to one half of the nursery. The cause of the blaze at the Fullerton Street premises is not known.

     
  62.  
    Text us on 80295 Midwives on abortion - Your Views

    Amy, Fife: As a nurse I have always been aware that I should support patients, regardless of religious beliefs (my own or the patient's) I have worked with Catholic and Muslim colleagues who are happy to assist patients whilst putting aside their own particular beliefs, and, as a non religious person, I have participated in assisting patients with their religious beliefs. As a professional we should leave our own beliefs in the changing room.

    Lucy, Edinburgh: I agree with the Supreme Court decision, but was horrified to hear that the poor women seeking a medical termination are on the labour ward, making a difficult situation even worse.

     
  63.  
    Financial uncertainty Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    Finance firms would have moved HQ from Scotland if 'Yes': may still do after 'No' as uncertainty goes on - Jeremy Peat

     
  64.  
    09:08: Wages at Ibrox

    Most of Rangers' under-performing players are only at Ibrox for big-money salaries, according to the club's former striker Kevin Kyle.

    The 33-year-old says some of his team-mates were earning more than £400,000 per year when he was at Ibrox in the bottom tier of the Scottish league.

    Rangers striker Kevin Kyle

    "The majority of players who are there at Rangers are there for one reason and one reason only," said Kyle.

    "And that's the money that was on offer to them."

     
  65.  
    One day I'll fly away... John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Anyone out there who clears off regularly abroad in the winter time? Looking to talk to someone for @BBCRadioScot

     
  66.  
    08:50: Tune in...

    On Morning Call, two Catholic midwives who objected to supervising abortions, have lost their case, is it the right decision? And, as takeaway and pre-packaged meals become the staple diet for many, do you have the time to cook a meal from scratch? The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00

    Morning Call

    You can listen to the programme here.

     
  67.  
    08:41: 'Maintain EU membership'

    Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has blamed any uncertainty around the financial sector on the Conservative government's proposal for an in-out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union.

    Mr Swinney also said he was "happy to reaffirm" the Scottish government's commitment to financial regulation being UK-wide.

    Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney

    He told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The points Jeremy Peat makes about common regulation are points we made during the referendum campaign, where our proposal was that we should work to maintain our financial services market across these islands.

    "I have told business leaders the Scottish government, and for my part the Scottish National Party, would be firm supporters of maintaining the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.

    "We see the advantages of Scotland being a full participant in the European markets and what the EU referendum threatens to do is to jeopardise that direct relationship between Scottish companies and European markets."

     
  68.  
    Oil prices Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    Oil price drop and North Sea tech delays force Canada-owned Iona Energy (UK) to cut costs and restructure $275m bond issue.

     
  69.  
    08:24: CalMac sailings liable to disruption BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Due to adverse weather, sailings on the Mallaig - Armadale service are on amber alert today and are liable to disruption.

    Keep an eye on the latest on the CalMac website.

     
  70.  
    08:10: 'Immense' council savings sought

    Councillors will meet later to discuss cuts to services and staff to help Highland Council save £55m over the next four years.

    The local authority's budget leader Maxine Smith has described the scale of savings it must achieve as "immense".

    Scottish bank notes and pound coins

    She said the administration had listened to public feedback on proposed cuts and it had sought to protect frontline services and jobs.

    An opposition group of councillors has suggested alternative savings.

    A full meeting of the council in Inverness will consider the rival proposals from the SNP/Lib Dem/Labour coalition, which runs the council, and from the Independent group.

     
  71.  
    07:55: Some dogs are more than just a companion Louise Sayers BBC Scotland

    Hearing dogs can help deaf people with everything from waking up in the morning to alerting them to sounds such as a phone or a doorbell ringing.

    Aster the hearing dog

    They could even be responsible for saving their deaf partner's life in an emergency.

    I've been to meet Aster: The first Hearing Dog to be trained entirely in Scotland.

     
  72.  
    07:50: Naismith feeling good about Goodison

    Scotland international Steven Naismith says he is on the crest of a wave at Everton.

    The former Rangers forward has signed a new three-year deal to remain at Goodison until 2019.

    Steven Naismith scoring for Everton

    "I would say this is probably the best form of my career," he said. "I'm delighted to have agreed an extension which will keep me here for a few more years yet."

    The 28-year-old, who joined Everton from Rangers in 2012, has found the net six times this season.

     
  73.  
    07:42: Occupational hazard David Miller BBC Scotland environment correspondent

    Scotland could lose the ability to respond quickly to nuclear emergencies if staffing is cut at a monitoring station, it has been claimed.

    The warning came from the former head of the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards in Glasgow.

    The CRCE laboratory was the first in the UK to detect radioactive fallout from the Fukushima disaster

    The laboratory was the first in the UK to detect trace amounts of radioactive fallout from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011.

    It was established in the 1970s by the National Radiological Protection Board.

     
  74.  
    Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    The A725 is partially blocked by a broken down car at the Bellziehill Roundabout. Police are directing traffic.

     
  75.  
    07:35: What the papers say

    Care home children as young as 13 were caught by police at a "booze-fuelled alleged sex party", according to the Scottish Sun.

    The Daily Record describes how a man dressed as Santa was "huckled" by police after he hitched a ride on the Wellington statue in Glasgow.

    Thursday's newspapers

    The National reports on the "solidarity" shown by the people of Scotland to those affected by the Peshawar school massacre in Pakistan.

    Read our paper review here.

     
  76.  
    07:33: Tories urge house-buying tax change

    The Scottish Conservatives believe the "eye-watering" new tax rate for people buying homes between £250,000 and £500,000 should be halved.

    The Tories have outlined proposals for a property tax scale which they said would be fairer than that being introduced by the Scottish government.

    For Sale sign

    The new Land and Building Transactions Tax will replace stamp duty on houses purchased in Scotland from 1 April.

    Ministers claim tax will be reduced on houses costing up to £254,000.

     
  77.  
    07:29: Rangers latest

    Speculation over the future of Rangers manager Ally McCoist dominates the back pages of this morning's papers.

    McCoist remains in place following a meeting with the club's board but will be a hot topic of debate at Monday's AGM, the papers say.

    Rangers boss Ally McCoist

    Meanwhile, Hearts owner Ann Budge wants the Edinburgh side back in European competition by 2017.

    Read our round-up of the back page headlines here.

     
  78.  
    07:21: Rich tapestry of life

    Borders councillors are to decide whether to go ahead with building a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland, at Tweedbank.

    The Scottish government has pledged £2.5m towards the scheme.

    However, that still means Scottish Borders Council would have to allocate up to £3.5m.

    The Great Tapestry of Scotland

    A report reckons the building could draw tens of thousands of visitors a year to the site, which is near to one end of the new Borders Railway line.

    Officially the world's largest embroidered tapestry, the 469ft (143m) artwork uses 300 miles (483km) of yarn to depict 42 million years of Scottish history across 160 panels.

     
  79.  
    07:14: Praise for university research Jamie McIvor BBC Scotland education correspondent

    The range and quality of research at Scotland's universities has been praised in a new UK-wide survey.

    Most Scottish universities have maintained or improved their standing in the league table.

    Overall Edinburgh University came out in 4th place while Glasgow University was 13th.

    More than 85% of university research in Scotland was judged to have an outstanding or very significant impact in wider society and economy.

    This figure was higher than the UK average.

     
  80.  
    07:08: Also on GMS Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    'Uncertainty' concern for Scottish finance sector, says Jeremy Peat.

    Jeremy Peat has compiled a new study of Scotland's financial sector.

    He's on #bbcgms at 07:35.

    Get the background from our Business and economy editor, Douglas Fraser.

     
  81.  
    07:05: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    More than 130,000 people expected in and out of @EDI_Airport over the festive period. Where are they heading? CEO Gordon Dewar #bbcgms 0720

    Good Morning Scotland programme

    Listen to the programme here.

     
  82.  
    How's the weather looking? BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Hi, Kawser here. Cloudy with rain & drizzle in the West - heavy at times. Drier and brighter further East. Colder & showery in Northern Scotland. Strong coastal winds.

     
  83.  
    07:02: Oil industry 'close to collapse'

    The UK's oil industry is in "crisis" as prices drop, a senior industry leader has told the BBC.

    Oil companies and service providers are cutting staff and investment to save money.

    Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers' association Brindex, told the BBC that the industry is "close to collapse".

    North Sea oil rig

    Almost no new projects in the North Sea are profitable with oil below $60, he claims.

    "It's almost impossible to make money at these oil prices", Mr Allan, who is a director of Premier Oil in addition to chairing Brindex, told the BBC. "It's a huge crisis."

     
  84.  
    07:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    It's early, it's time to get moving, it's Thursday's edition of Scotland Live...

     

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