Tag Archives: Melbourne

One failing director?

It does not happen often, it is actually rare to say the least. When I go back to the one I remember the best (former director Admoni), the ranks of Mossad have been nothing but exercises in excellence. when I think of them I remember the words of Robert Graves regarding General Tiberius (before he became emperor). “Every drill was a war, every war a bloody drill“, It is no different for Mossad, I reckon that Nahum Admoni, Shabtai Shavit, Meir Dagan and Tamir Pardo are perhaps the only men I have truly ever feared. Every security drill a war, every war a drill set to perfection, when the directors of the CIA, MI-6, DGSE, VAJA, FSB and GRU have nightmares, these are the 4 men that they dream about, each of them grilled for war, for subterfuge and all masters of intelligence gathering. Going up against them is like Boris Spassky or Anatoly Karpov offering you a game of chess that is unless you really pissed someone off, at which point it will be a smiling Bobby Fischer facing you. No matter how you slice it, you mess with Mossad at your own peril that is until recently. A case has been out in the open and I cannot fathom how Yossi Cohen left the game this open, and his pieces unprotected and setting them in the optional sunlight of direct peril.

I am talking about the Malka Leifer case. After the entire Catholic Anal Retentive Entertainment case (CARE), as nation after nation went berserk with the Catholic clergy, we now see another mess grow to fruition and even as the anti-Jewish sentiments have never been the fault of Israeli’s, Jews or the state of Israel, the antipathy that the Malka Leifer case is growing could have much larger repercussions. People who have always been open to a larger field of more religions, most of them fathers and mothers who are overly protective of their children; that group is confronted with rage, anger and confusion as we see that her extradition case has dragged on for five years, involved 57 hearings and more than 30 psychiatrists. Now we all heard and most of us can accept a second opinion, yet I feel certain that director Yossi (or director Yoshi when he is playing his Nintendo Switch) has no real explanation why the other 28 psychiatrists were needed, especially as most cases in the IDF get one psychiatrist at the most. So why we see Malka Leifer getting 5 years and 28 additional voices on a setting that could have been decided within 90 days with no more than 4 psychiatrists (two for each side) is a little beyond me.

The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/08/malka-leifers-case-is-shaking-the-australian-jewish-communitys-faith-in-israel) also gives us: “Dassi Erlich and her sisters, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper, have mounted a courageous campaign to have her extradited. Their advocacy has given the case a high profile within the local Jewish community“, in light of all this, we see not the case on the law, we see an optional pressure point against the state of Israel that Yoshi could have solved by putting Malka in a drop cloth and delivering her quietly at any Australian airport with a label ‘יהיה לך יום מקסים‘ attached to the package.

In this day and age where observation and deduction is the core stage for Mossad we see: “Leifer’s lawyers claim she suffers from paralysing anxiety and is mentally unfit to face court; yet despite clear-cut video evidence that she is going about her life as normal“, Malka is playing a game that has outreached its timeline and when we consider what she has been and what he is likely to become over the coming year, the case for Mossad is clear. You see, Mossad is responsible to keep the state safe, even as Malka is no danger, she is instilling anti-Israeli sentiments and that is a different matter, in this, as Mossad is by good luck exempt from the Constitutional Laws of the State of Israel, a more secure setting could be reached. In this, as we remember that extradition does not mean execution, it merely means that Malka Leifer has to face a court and a jury in a nation that does not have the death penalty. Can Yossi Cohen sit by and let pressures build that in the end will be poised and aimed at the wrong target? In the end, does Malka Leifer not get what she deserves? Having to personally face those she wronged? Perhaps that is the true fear that Malka faces, the mirror of accountability. It tends to paralyse to fear most people, which is not an acceptable form of defence in the first place, if that were true every taxpayer would get a lifelong reprieve from paying their taxation (that is a lovely idea though).

Yet the non-extradition is also a cloak of protection towards others, as we remember the small part “school management helped spirit her to Israel in 2008“, I feel certain that those so called ‘managers’ must equally be afraid on Malka entering a courtroom and their actions become open to scrutiny, yet that is one part that should not stop Director Cohen, if these managers are willing to do that, what other harm could they propagate? Is that not a valid question? I personally believe that extraditing does not give doubt to the state of Israel, inaction will give doubt, and you merely have to look at the Catholic impact to see that part.

That is when we get to the one debatable part. the quote “there has been an implicit acceptance by the heartland of Australian Jewry that the conflict is intractable, everyone’s hands are dirty and that Israeli governments should not be judged any more harshly than others around the world“, I do not disagree with that sentiment, but in equal matter, the stage of judgement of the inactions by the state of Israel is optionally building weights on the wrong side of the scales for the State of Israel and I believe that there is wisdom of removing all weights that are on the scales that support Israeli opposition, when the scales are set, you want to make sure that the playing field is equal or in favour for the State of Israel and in all this Malka Leifer has become too much of a counterweight to the agenda and needs of the State of Israel.

This should not be allowed to continue as it is.

 

 

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When we fail others

It happens, we fail others. At times it cannot be helped, it seems naturally that people forget about safety issues and condemn a whole building with bad cladding. It is just one of those things. Especially in Melbourne when after the 2014 fire in the Lacrosse Building, an apartment block in Melbourne’s Docklands 170 buildings were found to be non-compliant. Almost 5 years later, 19 months after the Grenfell tower event in London where 72 people lost their lives, we are now confronted that with 2000 buildings audited 360 are a high risk, 280 are moderate risk and 140 are low risk. You can drizzle it down, yet the cold fact is that 40% of the buildings are a risk, so over 5 years not one fuck was given for the safety of people (was that diplomatic enough?)

It is even worse when we see: “Last year those regulations were tightened in Victoria to ban the use of aluminium composite panels that contain more than 30% polyethylene“. Yet this is not the whole picture, it is actually a lot worse. The BBC gave us (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43558186) in April 2018: “In the standard European tests for “reaction to fire”, products are rated A to F – with A being the top rating. Reynobond PE had a certificate based on a rating of B

The part that is missing is the part I gave view to in June 2017. The brochure itself gives us: “What is interesting is the mention on page 5 of the brochure: “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high” This is an interesting part because the ‘why‘ comes into play, why only 3 stories? That part becomes a point of discussion, as page three shows a 7 story high building in the images. On page 6 we see the safety rating form flames and smoke as a pass with Class A as per ASTM E84. That part revealed two elements. One is the mention ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, the operative word is ‘horizontal‘”. I wrote this in the article ‘Under Cover Questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/). How did the BBC miss this? Then there is the fact that the flame test was done on a horizontal piece. Two direct questions that are clearly constructed from the mere brochure of the product. So how did officials in the UK and Australia miss these parts? That is before questions come up regarding the limit given of: ‘perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high‘, so how high was Grenfell, a mere 40 feet? How high was the Melbourne building? For me the line: “Laws introduced last year include a new funding three-way model that would allow owners’ corporations to take out a commercial loan to replace cladding and then pay it back through their council rates in an effort to encourage owners to act more quickly, but so far that model has not been used” is merely met with laughter. From my point of view, any participant who was part of the installation and acceptance of this cladding should be banned from construction for life. Unless you all agree that reckless endangerment of life is merely a trivial matter, I reckon that the family members of the 72 Grenfell victims feel a lot less trivial about the mess.

I also think that the quote “Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne says removing flammable cladding from the most high-risk buildings in Melbourne is a ‘complex problem’” I believe that Richard Wynne is off his rocker, the careless endangering of lives is not complex at all. And if this falls on the municipality to fix, it should come with the automated stage where anyone involved in allowing for this cladding should be banned for life in the construction or retrofitting of anything that receives any government funding, never to be allowed to be involved in anything that has more than two floors. It was not that complex was it? There is the additional part where he quoted 14 hours ago where he stated that 60 buildings were higher risk, whilst reliable sources (read: the guardian) has that number at 360, which is a 600% difference, a little too high a difference. In addition there is the stage of: “The average cost of replacing combustible cladding is between $40,000 and $65,000 per apartment unit, leaving “total rectification” of a block in the millions of dollars“. In that regard, why did the police not raid the offices of the involved parties confiscating all papers and contracts so that they could be scrutinised?

The facilitation towards the incompetent as I personally see it is just a little too overwhelming at present. It gets worse when you realise that this is not just Victoria, In NSW we see: “An audit found more than 1000 buildings across NSW have the dangerous cladding“, which now gives me the thought, did anyone ever look at the Reynobond PE brochure? Two essential and elemental questions were raised (the 40 foot limit) as well as the horizontal flame test. Both should have immediately disregarded Reynobond as an option, so how come that the hard questions that need to be placed at the side of Richard Wynne, as well as his NSW counterpart are missing? I would like to add the question on how this is suddenly very complex, but that might just be me.

It does not end there

You see, the issue is larger than what we see. ITV showed that yesterday (at https://www.itv.com/news/london/2019-02-11/fire-chief-stands-by-controversial-testimony-to-the-grenfell-inquiry/), it is at that point that we get treated to: “London’s fire chief says she stands by her controversial testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry, insisting she would not change a thing about the way crews responded.” you see, the part that people ignore, hiding behind emotions (some for all the right reasons) is: “I think it’s absolutely right that the inquiry will look at the whole process around not just our response but more importantly how the building came to be in that state because the building should never, ever have had that cladding on and had the lack of provisions for those people inside.” Too many players want to get around the one part that is at the heart of the matter ‘the lack of provisions for those people inside‘. The sprinkler issue, an issue that might make some sense when a building is 4 floors high, yet for a 20+ floors building there is no sense at all, and fire doors that were not there. The BBC gave a list in June 2018 (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44351567).

  1. Most of the fire doors at the entrance to the 120 flats had been replaced in 2011 but neither they or the original doors still left in place complied with fire test evidence.
  2. The fire service had to pump its own water into Grenfell Tower – the building’s “dry fire main” system was “non-compliant” with guidance at the time of construction and was “non-compliant with current standards”.
  3. The smoke control system did not operate correctly, reducing the ability to improve both escape and firefighting conditions.

These are three elements that had a huge impact. The first two would have made delay and containment of the fire impossible and the ‘stay put’ order became a death sentence, no fire chief would have been ready for that. The overall failing in all this building alone warrants a large stage of arresting several players for corporate manslaughter and those were the obvious failings (beside the cladding), the last goes on a little longer making obvious question clear, ‘Why aren’t people in prison at present?‘ It is in that regard that the one person that should not be prosecuted is Fire Chief Dany Cotton. I do believe that this inquiry is essential as is her voice in this, yet this inquiry should be happening whilst several connected parties should be in prison awaiting the outcome, not watching it from a comfortable chair in the living room.

And it goes from bad to worse

Inside Housing reported three weeks ago: ‘Council to spend £500,000 keeping KCTMO running‘, so not only are we and the family of victims confronted with cost cutting measures and now we see that they require half a million to keep afloat? With: “Board papers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) revealed that a total of £750,000 would be spent on Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KTCMO) in 2019/20, with £250,000 being found through the company’s reserves” the pressing question should be why management was not taken away and given to someone else? Even as we accept the quote “KCTMO must remain in existence as a legal entity throughout the Grenfell Inquiry so it can be held to account“, I am all for that, yet they can be parked awaiting prosecution, handing them half a million seems a bit much on every side of this equation.

As we contemplate the impact of the Grenfell disaster, we see that not only is there a larger issue in play, we need to realise that the current viewed inaction in both the UK and Australia should be seen as a larger problem. That is seen most clearly in two quotes. The first is: “The Neo200 apartment building on Spencer Street, which caught fire last week, was classified to be a moderate risk“, the second one is: “Neo 200 achieved certification and approval from the building certifier and relevant authorities at the time. We welcome the opportunity to support any investigation into the incident by authorities.

It gives direct rise to the concern that certification is as large an issue as well as allowing fire hazardous cladding to be applied to a building. So when we see that ‘Some 360 private buildings had been deemed high-risk‘, we need to conclude that the building regulations have now failed well over 360 times and in that regard, knowing that there were clear issues going back to the Lakanal House fire of 2009, when we realise that sources gave us “breaches of fire safety standards in UK are common and lessons from Lakanal House have not been learned“, we see that issues with building regulations, and breaches in fire safety have been allowed to go unchecked for almost a decade, in that light, stronger questions need to be asked of the political players as well as the policy makers. Even as the earlier failures by Southwark council are well documented, how is it even possible that these failings are still happening close to a decade later?

I fear that we are failing others by our inability to loudly ask the questions that require answers, and we are seemingly finding the response from Richard Wynne that it is a ‘complex problem which will take some time to fix properly‘, we are too accepting of an issue that should have reduced to the largest degree close to half a decade ago, the information of failing has been clearly shown since 2009, the fact that this is ‘still’ complex a decade later should anger a lot of people, especially those in apartments with flammable cladding. Feel free to disagree, yet when you do, don’t come crying when you end up watching your children burn alive. At that point you only have yourself to blame.

It’s harsh, but the inaction on flammable cladding is just that, harsh!

 

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Costing in the key of life

Over the last decade, political parties have squandered the needs of their constituents. Liberals, conservatives and Labour alike in both the UK and Australia. I have seen the pressure as housing is no longer an options for many. It is a skewed approach to a solution that fit only the truly wealthy. It is a system that has been ignored, shovelled all over the place and no one has done anything serious to address it. How much longer can this go on?

Yesterday’s article in the Guardian by Robert Booth is only the tip of the iceberg that sank the good ship lollipop (at http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jan/01/london-flats-costing-up-to-1m-outsell-more-affordable-homes). The title ‘London flats costing up to £1m outsell more affordable homes‘ is on one side deceptive on the other side it is illustrative of several administrations that have not considered any solution, just a propagation of the Status Quo. The quote ‘sold more than twice as many two-bedroom apartments costing between £650,000 and £1m as cheaper homes priced at about £300,000‘ is partially deceptive. You see when you see the data ‘Sales of London homes banded by asking price per square foot’, we see the numbers, but what is missing is not ‘what is sold‘ but the metric ‘available places that people can afford‘, Even higher educated barristers admitted to the bar will not be able to show an annual income of £200,000, which means that even the highest educated are not in line for anything decent any day soon. In Australia the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is now marketing the alternative in the trend of ‘Use your spare room to help pay off your mortgage!‘, they voice it like ‘my new business‘, but in the end, it is a risky approach to either a mortgage that is higher than you bargained for or one that was outside your reach an they are voicing the ‘entrepreneurial’ edge to hide the risk. What if that person suddenly gets into a financial wash? What if the Granny involved dies? All elements that take weeks if not months to resolve and the mortgage is still due. In addition permits might be needed. Nothing of that is clearly shown. The entire housing market is in a dangerous place because the political parties have ‘conveniently’ ignored the lower branches of income and in all that the rent is also still rising whilst incomes are not moving forward. So we are in a place where London, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are pricing their cities into non-sustainable situations and it has been going on for the better part of two decades. All these places have been trailing demand for over a decade by a decadent amount, whilst they should have been ahead of the curve for at least a decade.

When we look at the following quote in the Guardian “Campbell Robb, the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter. “It is promising to see the government finally focusing on building more homes. But the only way to truly solve this housing crisis is for both the mayor and central government to finally prioritise building homes that Londoners on ordinary incomes can afford to rent or buy, instead of just higher earners.”“, question marks should be clearly placed, because ‘finally focusing on building more homes’ should have started in 2003 in both London and Sydney. Now, we have to accept that the city is no longer an option for many, yet when we look 4 minutes away from there we see the same trend of shortage. We are face with either not enough, or not affordable. A increasingly larger population in Sydney is now confronted that their income will at best support the rent of a mere studio apartment, meaning that the bulk must rely on 2 incomes to get anything above a one bedroom apartment, more than that, the current growth of rent means that any year that an annual increase of 3% is not met or exceeded, the living standard goes down on a quarterly base. These numbers might sound scary, but compared to London it is nowhere near as bad as it gets. The political parties have abandoned its population all for the need and premise of inviting wealth into the UK and Australia, whilst there is no evidence that these people are spending a great deal in those places, other than supporting and funding new unaffordable buildings. This goes far beyond these mere borders, we see a similar evolution in the Netherlands, where the issue is even more interesting as larger proportions of the Netherlands are facing a similar issue we see in London and Sydney. There is no ignoring the act that the Netherlands is only a fraction of the size of the UK (and an even more diminishable part of Australia), which of course drives prices up even faster. The Guardian article shows the most dangerous part at the very end with the quote “Since 2009, the fastest growing locations for new housing have been Barnet, Brent, Croydon, Newham and Wandsworth. In Croydon, the price of dozens of flats in the Coombe Cross development have increased by around a quarter, with one-bedroom flats rising £63,000 to £287,950“, now implying that the outer doughnut is no longer affordable, moreover, the fact that not more alerts are ringing all over Whitehall with an increase of 25% is even more unsettling. The average UK salary might be set at £26,500, but that implies that well over 50% of the UK is faced with a house price well over 1,000% of their income, making it never an option. That same trend is seen in Australia, where the median house price is now set at one million, setting the house price on average between 1,500% and 2,000% of their income, an issue that could have been avoided if the parties a decade ago had set clear paths in motion to battle this dangerous trend. Whilst both places are steering towards the New York unaffordability we are also faced with a situation that our values of life are in equal decrease, because as we move from nations that are no longer ‘working to live’, but nations that moved to ‘live to work’, our values will diminish faster and faster and it is all due to a path of greed and a path of flaccid and unreliable politicians. Labour UK 1997 – 2010, Labour AUS 2007 – 2013, in Australia partial fault is also with the Liberals as John Howard was sailing the good Ship Wallaby from 1996 – 2007. All parties that seemed to forget that not everyone can afford to live on a $100K+ income and we will be paying for their shortcomings for a long time to come.

I wonder if it ever gets properly solved without having to resort to ‘culling’ the population at large.

 

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The reality for poor London

It is not a new concept, people who are getting drowned through greed, yet as the Guardian in a video shows us: (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2014/nov/21/new-era-residents-fight-us-owners-westbrook-london-estate-video), the dangers where greed will not turn people homeless. In addition, the people behind it, Westbrook partners are hiding behind walls and the law. Here is the first part I object to. The law is a shield of protection for victims, not a cloak of unaccountability for the greed driven. However, part of the article that is not shown is the fact that the UK government might have fumbled the ball in a massive way here. I reckon that David Cameron has to attack these issues immediately, because if left untouched, the move from all parties INTO UKIP might be one we have never ever seen before in the history of politics.

So what is actually the case?

Westbrook Partners has been buying real estate on a massive scale; London, New York and Tokyo have been met with a spending spree on acquiring real estate. Buildings have changed ownership, but this change has a difference. This is done for investors of American workers Pension funds (to name but one). They bought property as mentioned in Hackney (inner east London), the residents were told that the rents will now go to market value, this is stated to mean that rents will triple almost overnight, how is that even close to acceptable, moreover, how many will be left to afford such a rent? Consider a rent of 2,500 pounds a month, this comes down to $4,500, I have had decently good paid jobs in IT, but I cannot afford those levels of rent, not in the best of days. Hackney council is currently expecting Westbrook to issue eviction notices. This is worse than just a bad nightmare; dozens of homes will be uprooted for what? Replacement by high rise new building, offering a massive boost to Westbrook Partners, which by the way is a US firm with offices in the UK.

It is not just the immorality of it all, consider that investment firms are now focussing on lower yield options, lower yield locations. Is this because the American wells have dried up? Now, I know that for the most, these things are not an option (or were not an option) in Amsterdam. When Amsterdam saw the 70’s boom in London, they made sure that these dangerous times could not happen there, but it is not a given for all buildings in Amsterdam (outside of the inner city). Consider other places where governments have been lacks with affordable housing. With this I mean Melbourne, Sydney AND Brisbane in Australia, Rotterdam, Delft and Leiden in the Netherlands, Several places in Germany and a few other places. When Westbrook and companies like them start changing the game to this extent, what will happen to the population at large? San Francisco had some events in this direction as Google expanded its views, but this is only the tip of the iceberg, now it is not just housing for a large company, now it is about returns for investors, how long until that part collapses leaving people not just in a state of destitution, but homeless as well?

When we see the article, we see the American Workers Pension Funds, with an image of fire fighters, did these fire fighters know that they are not just saving people, but for their retirement, they are making them homeless too? So is there an issue? Well, Yes!

The issue is at present that what is being done in not illegal, but highly immoral. To force a population out of an area, because of income is like stating that the poor are not allowed in London in any way, how is that not discrimination?

More interesting is how Westbrook was unreachable by the Guardian, their website views like a two page joke giving no information at all. When has an investment firm hiding behind wall of unreachability ever been a good thing? Goldman Sachs has been bad news on a global scale, yet they at least remained reachable. This new era of Westbrook is something entirely different. To see just how dangerous this rent rise is, take a look at the image on this link http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/19/new-era-estate-scandal-london-families-international-speculators, even more interesting is how the New Era estates included a minority share by Conservative MP Richard Benyon, who is pulling out this month, when confronted with these levels of changes. We might think of blaming it all on London’s Westbrook Principle Mark Donnor, but is that fair? Consider that this mess is the continuation of a mess which I witnessed for well over 22 years! Prices in London have always been outrageous and now that the wells are drying up, rental spaces are one of the few low return yielding options. Both political parties should have harshly intervened long before 1995, but they decided not to, now we see a new iteration which could break the London infrastructure. If you wonder why, then let me explain.

London needs workers, they always needed them and most of them live a long way from London, yet now we see a new group, those on a ‘higher’ lower income like Nurses and some tradies who lived in places like Hackney, as they are evicted, they will move further away and they will try to seek work in a place that is not London, as London faces a rental crash, it will also face a workers crash as people are less willing to live 2-3 hours away from work, we see the need to find other avenues to contain their work-life balance, that means working somewhere else. You might think that this is exaggeration in regards to 92 households in Hackney, but do you think it ends here?

If we consider the quote “The letter said they had secured an agreement not to increase rents again until 2016. However, it added: “Since this week’s departure of the Benyon Estate we understand the council have now been informed that Westbrook no longer plan to honour that plan, and have been told that their plan is to refurbish the current estate in its entirety and then rent all the properties without secure tenancies at market rent levels, with no affordable housing”“, we get another view, we get the view of several investment firms seeing what could be acquired in London for refurbishment and upgrades to market value housing. Consider areas like Paddington and Kilburn, what happens when they get refurbished into market value? In addition, when we see “Councils are acquiring properties in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Sussex and further afield to cope with an expected surge in numbers of vulnerable families presenting as homeless as a result of welfare cuts from next April” (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/nov/04/london-boroughs-housing-families-outside-capital), is this perhaps just the beginning? What happens when the situation goes from 92 households, to 992 households? What will happen to the smaller businesses as these places are all upgraded? The London economy is an interaction of classes and groups, when the city changes the dynamic that has worked for decades, we see a change in culture and options for all workers involved, moreover, what can we expect to see when these locations start to lose the reliability it has had for so long towards an entire iteration of workers and traders. Once that is changed, other elements will become in play as well, then what will happen?

In my view, David Cameron will need to make large strides in changing a current approach, to allow for long term sustainability. If not, we will see entire areas no longer in a state of survivability. These events that Westbrook has started will also make a change to the policies that London Lord-Mayor Boris Johnson is trying to introduce. No matter how strong the need for a living wage is, as Westbrook is pushing for market values, we will see a living wage that needs to go from £8.55 to £18.55, which is something that is not just unrealistic, it will be totally unmaintainable. The fallout will be long term.

In the end the UK government did this by not acting and others might be in the same predicament soon enough. I will be honest and state right here that no one anticipated the fact that rent would ever become the preferred return on investment for investment companies, which is an entirely different conversation I will have with my readers at a later stage. A change none saw coming, but now that it is here, it will prove to be additional hardship on the Conservative party, whilst giving even more options to UKIP.

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