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MPs who voted against triggering Article 50 contradicted the will of the relevant constituency

February 4, 2017 Leave a comment

brexit-voteWhilst the realities of our Legal system have allowed the wishes of a group of individuals to delay the implementation of the democratic choice of the British people, any individual seeking to bolster the strength of their own argument against Brexit on the basis of this ‘technical truth’ will certainly not be putting the interests of the wider community before their own. Regrettably, those MP’s who have sought to thwart or destroy the process of Brexit in all but name are effectively misusing their responsibilities to the point where they may well bring their own incumbency into question.

Remainers persist in arguing that leaving the EU can mean that we don’t actually leave, or suggest that the Electorate will change its mind simply because the Remain Campaign was the only one telling the truth.

They argue that these reasons justify their refusal to accept a democratic mandate, but they risk shattering what is left of the already fragile status quo in which the disenfranchised majority has made clear they do not wish things to simply continue as the are.

Democracy isn’t perfect because it inevitably leaves those who have not achieved the result they were supporting feeling let down and disappointed if they fail to get their way.

Were democracy to be perfect, it would render itself obsolete simply because everyone would agree upon everything already and therefore have no need to engage in any such process.

The downside of democracy not being a perfect system is that those who disagree with a result will always look for leverage to dispute a result, just because they may have perceived that in some way they have been robbed.

To be fair, close results in elections – where perhaps just a handful of votes stand between one candidate and another – have been turned on their head just on the basis of a recount alone. But these instances are rare, and when they occur, are more likely to do so where a result has been drawn within an electorate of a very low number.

The smallest constituencies are the most likely to experience such events with the likelihood reducing as elections range from the wards of a parish councils, through those of a district level authority to the divisions of a county council and then the parliamentary constituencies themselves. Even then however, one seat ultimately being decided upon the flip of a coin is unlikely to effect the fortune or result from similar elections held on the same day within 649 others.

What all these constituencies have in common, is that no matter how small or how big, they all represent the majority view of the people who live within a specific geographical area. The result or election of an individual or individuals to represent that particular area are based on the votes of the people in that specific area alone.

Because of the current nature of British politics, it is easy to forget that even in a General Election, we all vote for an individual to represent us locally, rather than the political party they belong to.

Voters can hardly be blamed for this when the party which gains the most seats forms the government, and the leader of that group then becomes Prime Minister.

We might not even notice when our chosen candidate is not elected, simply because it can still be the case that our choice of Party for Government does. However, only one person can ever fill one seat and this means that at least one and possibly many more will not.

The practical realities of administering government require that district level authorities are responsible for the mechanics of elections. It doesn’t matter what the election and what the boundary of its constituency may be, the chances are that you will always go to the same place to vote. Other than being given one or a number of voting slips which have to then go in different ballot boxes when different elections coincide, very few of us have to think about much more besides, as the local monitoring officer manages the process which leads to the conclusion of each and every local electoral result that our individual vote contributes towards, to decide.

However, in the case of European Elections, which are decided on a Regional basis and require many different district level authorities to feed in their own locally harvested results which contribute to a much larger area, a strong result for one or more parties in that area may not be reflected in the Regional result itself, because the majority of people in other areas have within their own constituencies voted for another party or parties.

A National referendum is similarly no different, taking the process one step further to a point where every single vote counts directly towards the national result, with the relevant constituency being the entire UK.

The familiarity of the Electoral System lends itself to significant misunderstanding, particularly as many people are simply unaware of the different tiers of government which operate and certainly have no greater awareness of the geographical differences or enclosures which exist between any number of the different authorities or individual politicians who are elected by them in the same way.

This administrative anomaly works well in terms of operating a practical and effective non-digitised election management system. But it also allows data collected for specific areas such as that of a Parliamentary Constituency to be interpreted in terms of relevance just to the area in which those votes were counted alone, rather than against the backdrop of the wider, or indeed narrower area. However, in elections where a candidate or multiple of candidates is selected for a particular ‘seat’, a conflicting result for a parish ward would not allow or facilitate the election of a ‘part-candidate’ when the results of all others would provide a majority for a county council candidate and thereby ensure that individuals election.

Whilst many of the 114 MP’s have used the excuse that their own constituency voted to Remain as the logical reason for voting against triggering Article 50 in Parliament this last week, the fact that the European Referendum was itself never about the individual result or interpretation of votes from any specific Parliamentary Constituency, but rather the combined will of the nation itself, arguably renders this interpretation completely void.

The same can be said of the Scottish Constituencies too. What is more, whilst the SNP can argue that they have a distinguishable mandate, the result of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum has made the position of the Scottish region clear in terms of its relationship within and as part of the rest of the UK and would as such be no different than any other single parliamentary constituency seeking to Remain in Europe, when the Referendum was only ever about the relationship between Europe and the UK entire.

It would be ridiculous to completely overlook the alternative reasoning of these MP’s as from a certain point of view, it is arguably true. However, it is based on a subjective and arguably self-serving view, rather than the more objective one which has been adopted by many more on all sides of the political divide. One which respects the nature of the Referendum Vote and the specific constituency within which it was held.

Had the democratic view been accepted by all in the first place, the will of the majority of the British people would have already been respected. No MP would have found themselves facing a dilemma of whether or not to support their own Party, or alternatively risk the potential of being black-balled, all because to a few, democracy can only work when they believe that they alone are winning.

 

image thanks to thesun.co.uk

 

 

Trump & Farage: The heralds of change, a final warning or an opportunity to put things right?

December 18, 2016 Leave a comment

trump-may-farage

2016 will surely be remembered for the watershed electoral events which have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic. But can we really say for certain just how people will view the impact of these historical moments, perhaps in just a few years time?

Churchill once said that ‘History is written by the victors’. Many of us would agree that such sentiment is true. But a problem arises with our view of 2016 when we look upon the British European Referendum in June and the US General Election in November and try to identify who, or perhaps more accurately what it was that actually won.

Yes, it is easy to look back at recent weeks and conclude that Trump won in the States – even if there does remain a question mark over Clinton’s result in terms of the popular vote. But if we look closer to home and back to what has become known colloquially as ‘Brexit’, such definition is far from easy – if indeed possible at all.

The figurehead whom most would recognise as having been the defining leader or agent of change which led us to ‘Brexit’ is Nigel Farage. However, the reality that key individuals such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove played highly significant parts too, surely attests to the reality that this seminal moment was about far more than the impact of just one person or three, and was in fact about a significant and great many more.

It sounds simple. But people and even the politicians who apparently lead them have a habit of hanging results or actions around the necks of the one person they identify as being responsible for something, rather than recognising the many contributing events, factors and the influence of any number of different people which may have contributed.

Whether the circumstances be good or bad, there simply is no difference. Change must have a face, and therefore a name.

We cannot take away from him the impact that Farage has clearly had on the rise of whatever this evolving collective is that won the European Referendum. It is almost certainly fair to say that the Prime Minister may regret not ennobling him far sooner than she might comfortably think.

However, the face and focal point that Farage has provided this otherwise undecipherable ‘movement’ for change, is also one which has multiple personalities. And it is perhaps this imaginary friend in which a truly diverse, yet massively significant range of choices for both the public and those in power now really lies.

People have responded to Farage because he has spoken with a voice which has sounded different to the political establishment, using language which has made people feel it is ok to have the feelings about the world around them that they do. He has dared speak terms loudly which we have all quietly become afraid to use, and demonstrated that a choice to what a silent majority have been quietly coerced to accept, does in fact exist.

Indeed, Farage and a growing number of key influencers from across the political spectrum are now providing a voice which is in varying ways representative of the anger and frustration which so many people feel.

He has elucidated his message well. However, while they may be late to the game, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and many others in politics are regurgitating a range of these specific truths.

They are doing so simply because the frustration and anger we are now experiencing after years of willful indifference and political neglect are now touching the lives of everyone, whether they would ‘naturally’ vote Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP.

But there is a problem with this too. Placing our faith in people who may be seen to be the heralds of change when they do not represent real change itself is very dangerous indeed. Many of these same faces have not only been present, but have also provided a voice for the very establishment which created those difficulties for us in the first place.

It is surely the case that those who are responsible for leading the change that will make our lives better, should fully understand and appreciate the complexity, nature and impact of the problems that must as such be left behind. Otherwise, it might only been seen as natural for them to reject everything associated with the period before, whether good or bad, simply because it represents the time when they didn’t possess the level of power which they have now come to cherish and enjoy.

We only need look at the last Century to recognise the warnings from history of how dark our lives could quickly become under the leadership of people who say much, but are completely out of touch when it comes to the world outside of the bubble that surrounds them.

In the UK, the chances of Farage having his hands on the levers of government do as such seem as remote as the possibility that Theresa May will steer us through the entire Brexit process trouble-free. On the other side of the Atlantic however, Trump may already be placed perfectly well to assume powers which he sees as being perfectly justified to prevent a return to the bad days of old. He does after all have a mandate to do so, based upon all of the truths that have been told – doesn’t he?

Nonetheless, to award Trump and Farage the status of demagogues as some have already tried, would be insulting to the realities and hardships of people that have for too long been openly denied.

Rejection of the status quo is after all no less populist than the election wins that facilitated their legitimate arrival via the policies of governments that came before and led to it.

And so, it is arguably the case that Trump, Farage and May are all riding a wave that they simply do not understand. But it is the direction and the choices that they make next that will decide the fate of all us when this ‘new tide’ really begins to break upon the shore.

The evidence may not look too promising so far, but let us hope that any power or responsibility that these three or any like them who follow will have over us from now onwards, will be exercised with a level of care and consideration which is ultimately beneficial to us all. For it is here that the true opportunity to address the problems which society faces truly lies.

 

images thanks to http://www.businessinsider.com, http://www.independent.co.uk, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

 

Cameron names his nemesis populism, but the Westminster set still refuses to accept that it was a rejection of self interest which was the key to Brexit

December 13, 2016 1 comment

imagesAs I stepped into the polling booth at a local church hall on the evening of 23rd of June and looked at the voting slip in my hands, the feeling that crossed my mind couldn’t have been further from the thought of being part of something populist, even if I had been confident that my No vote would contribute to an unscripted win.

I know that I am not alone, and whilst the bizarre polarity which now exists between Remainers and Leavers has reached the level that you will find friendships broken and even online dating profiles telling would-be suitors not to waste their time if they voted the other way, it is certain that David Cameron continues to do a great disservice to all voters by now suggesting that such a momentous decision could be made under the influence of a populist cause.

It isn’t cool to be a Leaver for the same reasons that our former Prime Minister came to draw that very conclusion.

Labelling and the use of umbrella terms to cover a multitude of different interpretations make life easy for politicians and the media alike. But they mean different things to different people. They provide an ill-considered opportunity to stereotype, and there is a very dangerous assumption that everyone who voted one way or the other did so purely on the basis that it was a populist choice and that we therefore think alike.

We don’t.

One of the most significant errors being made by politicians from across our range of political parties and even the USA beyond, is to believe that workable solutions to the root causes of the problems which have created these inappropriately labelled ‘populist’ votes can be narrowed down to focusing upon or addressing these tent-like terms such as ‘immigration’. Indeed, as we now progress forward from the Referendum they believe it sensible to use the newly coined ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit with the inherent suggestion that there is again some kind of black and white choice which still provides an ‘in/out choice’.

It doesn’t.

Not only are these terms misrepresentative and wholly misleading about the life-experiences which people are having across the Country, they are exacerbating the level of confusion that the mishmash of issues surrounding our relationship with Europe actually presents. And that’s the end of the story only if you are prepared to accept that the Referendum result was itself only ever about Europe.

People are neither one thing nor the other as leave or remain has been darkly painted suggest. The majority of people are in the most part probably sat somewhere in between.

But even ‘somewhere in between’  would be far too specific a way to try and position the basis of a debate or the questions which support it, when the European question relates so differently to so many people, depending upon just how the plethora of issues involved may have impacted upon their own lives on perhaps a very meaningful basis.

The European Referendum arrived at the front of what we will perhaps look back upon as the beginning of a perfect storm. One which has been created in no small part by many years of neoliberalism in its ascendancy, and the evolution of a political and governmental culture of self-interest. A self-contained entity which has seen decisions and policy making made within bubbles of understanding about the life experience of others and a narrative of the world outside which in relative terms operates no differently to the insular online realities that so many disenfranchised people feel falsely empowered by, and as such enjoy.

Many voters do not themselves understand the true complexity of the issues at hand, such as the role of Globalisation in freedom of movement, nor the impact that new and improving technology is having on the decimation of well-paid jobs which are disappearing rather than being awarded to some foreigner who is always guaranteed to do the job for less. They certainly do not consider the unrecognisable role of the taxpayer in subsidising low paid jobs through the benefits systems for the corporate businesses that could afford to pay more along with the impact on small ones whose owners would genuinely like to do so.

It is correct that we should all be able to expect those who have been elected to represent us would properly do so. Not only should they understand fully the issues before them, we also have the right to expect that they would legislate with balance, fairness and the full reach of consequence in mind.

Regrettably there is scant evidence that they do, and with the secret now open that political parties work only towards the delivery of a beneficial result in the next election, Westminster should be in no way surprised by the fact that continuing to do things the same way that they always have, will continue to yield results which beat to a different drum.

No. Many people voted ‘No’ through the feelings of isolation which our political establishment has dealt us over many years and Governments, and it is the frustration building up inside which in one way or another to each of us said ‘No, I can no longer go with what I see as this hollow and populist status quo’.

Brexit and the Supreme Court: What will be the price of ‘objective’ judgement if no new precedents are set?

December 13, 2016 1 comment

technical-truths

Dipping into the proceedings of the Supreme Court last week was hardly the emotionally charged experience that Leavers and Remainers had been conditioned by the media to expect. But should we really be surprised when case law is being used to define arguments that have never previously been made and do in fact need our Judges to make a judgement in the purest sense?

As with all too many arguments in the political sphere these days, there is no small amount of semantics in play. Labelling of one kind or another has progressed to a level where the very act of simplifying language has progressed beyond the point of being intelligent and really given the lie to the idea that one word really can and does mean the same thing to all people.

Never mind ‘hard Brexit’ this or ‘soft Brexit’ that. Judicial process is itself hiding the truth that case law did at one point or another have itself to be created. It was at these very moments that it was the objectivity of the Judiciary or other high-level-offices of responsibility upon which we have relied and trusted to make the decisions which would today become the precedents that the debate over parliamentary interest in the triggering of Article 50 has rested.

At a time when the level of public confidence in politicians can be generalised as being the core issue that brought Brexit about, we all need to see leadership within the system of law which reaches beyond the scope of sticking to what is considered safe, or fundamentally right, simply because it’s the way that it is expected to be done.

So when we look to the Judiciary for the impartial type of leadership which is sadly lacking from government, why have the Courts not focused on the chronology of events, and above all what cannot reasonably be disputed as the democratic will of the people?

The easy response would be to suggest that the Judges concerned are expressing views which have been informed by bias. Indeed many of our media outlets have gone to great lengths to explore the backgrounds and links of the Judges who sat on the case previously, as well as the 11 who have sat in the past week at the Supreme Court.

The upshot of this approach which is inherently linked to the Brexit camp, being the inference that a decision which goes against the perogative of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 directly and without further reference to Parliament is pro-Remain.

Be it right or wrong in terms of principle, the hardest pill to swallow for anyone looking in from the outside who supports Brexit is that the Judges have not done anything wrong by ruling the way that they already have. Nor will those sitting in the Supreme Court do so if they then uphold the previous ruling.

Yes, the Judiciary may well be hiding behind process and this could indeed give legitimised cover to the less objective members of a bench who might put personal or subjective views before what Brexiteers would see post 23rd June as being clearly right. But that is their gift and we are unlikely to ever know the truth to this question and the fact is that the system does – as its stands – both allow and facilitate an intelligent form of responsibility-ducking which sadly permeates all forms of government today.

Technical truths are the harsh and uncompromising reality of a protectionist and self-serving age where taking responsibility is considered dangerous and actions are legitimately excused by reference to the precedents set by others rather than what experience tells us exists in front of our own eyes.

The objective view would recognise the democratic decision and therefore the mandate of the people above all else. Equally it would reference the fact that Parliament has already had its say when it passed the legislation for the Referendum in the first place and then made that choice directly subject to the will of the people. Ironically, it would also reproach the significant transfer of legislative power which has been undemocratically transferred to the EU beyond the previous mandate given by the British people for a common trading relationship, respectful of national sovereignty, which people on all sides of the argument still actually want.

It is possible that the Supreme Court will support the Government view and allow the triggering of Article 50 without any further debate. But it is unlikely.

Like it or not, we simply do not exist within a time of true leadership. If we had, we would not be anywhere near the constant two and fro of discussions surrounding our exit from Europe and the rise of a new American President whose arrival together in 2016 are being heralded as the turn of a populist tide.

We certainly wouldn’t find ourselves questioning what constitutes good judgement.

Referendum on Europe: France says you cannot switch to rugby when you are already on the pitch playing football. Do the Europhiles not realise that we only ever signed up to buy each other a drink rather than take to the pitch and play a game with rules that were never of our own choosing?

There can be little question that David Cameron is going all out to steal the initiative on Europe whilst all the other Political Parties are preoccupied with their leadership issues.

We would however be foolish not to take note of the responses coming from European speakers, whether positive sounding like Angela Merkel’s latest comments, or more contemptuous in nature as those from the French Minister Laurant Fabius who tells us that Britain joined a football club and now wants to play rugby.

Much will be made of the German Chancellor’s intervention which sounds far more favourable and positively aligned with the PM’s rhetorical stance on renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with our European Partners.

But behind the scenes, should we perhaps be just a little more eager to question whether this represents the early stages of yet another gleaming political fudge of the kind that we have sadly become all too used to, in a world where politicians are hardly rated for their qualities of trust?

Europe has arguably been the most divisive power in British politics for a generation or more, for reasons that we should perhaps not feel convinced that even the PM actually understands.

The centralisation of power, taking it further away from the people and placing it in the hands of the unelected, does after all rather fly in the face of the whole concept and convenient truth of the increasingly political union which was mythically presupposed to prevent another autocrat accumulating power over Europe, following the devastation that Hitler’s dark chapter wrought for millions across the Continent.

However, if this very aim was indeed the ‘football game’ that the French Minister has suggested, he, like many others should perhaps reflect on the fact that in terms of our only referendum on the European project to date in 1975, which pretty much did nothing more than authorise politicians to make a commitment to a free trading agreement, the British people have in fact comparatively done no more than agree with the European states to buy each other a drink in the bar, whilst participating within some unfavourably biased political ‘game’ on a bent playing field was never actually on the agenda.

Regrettably, many of our political leaders since then, have presided over the steady drip, drip, drip of power to the European Parliament through the devil-ridden-detail of documents such as the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties, with the situation only being made that much worse by our perhaps overzealous cultural penchant for doing everything by the book and accepting changes to laws that affect almost every part of our lives like they really mean something, seemingly all without question, but actually with a rather large dollop of misplaced trust.

Shame then that successive British Governments haven’t taken the same approach with the power entrusted to them by us. Deliberately or not, they have acquiesced in allowing the European elite to expect little more than complete subjugation from the British People when our elected representatives have never had any democratic mandate to do so.

The principle of free trade with Europe is a good one, and nobody should be under any illusion about the 2-way dynamic of this relationship which serves European commercial interests as lucratively – if not more so, than our own.

But that is as far as it should have gone for us, and the fact that our political classes have allowed a situation to exist where a majority decision of foreign nations can prevent us upholding rights that are actually ours, and simply dismiss that notion as an attempt to change the rules of their ‘game’ is ridiculous.

Worse however, is the standing commitment of a British Prime Minister to support and uphold a ‘Yes’ vote in a referendum, which however it is worded, will surely result in a commitment and increasing material and political deference to foreign powers on the part of the people of this Country which voters have never knowingly signed up to.

The most concerning factor in all this, is not that we already have David Cameron shaping up his own Yes campaign whilst Nigel Farage almost certainly hopes that he will be the face of the No.

It is the simple non-existance of any political force which is even attempting to elucidate the real meaning and feeling of how the silent majority of people feel about the laws which are used to govern us, and how we all want to feel the return of a touch of reality in government, which doesn’t burn appropriate bridges with the Nations that abut our shores, but doesn’t also surrender the historic freedoms of this nation that quite frankly, nobody from outside is culturally equipped to fully understand.

Picture thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

A Blue Flush, political business as usual and UKIP may be about to miss its greatest hour as it behaves exactly like the rest…

Frankenstein-001The morning after the Scottish Independence Referendum last September was significant in more ways than most people realised at the time, and with ramifications that few of us could have really banked on being the case at the time.

Within just a matter of hours, David Cameron weaponised the SNP by making a series of commitments on devolution which were almost certainly impossible to deliver without the help of a meaningful majority, and then switched on the voltage to electrify this electoral monster by moving straight to the flawed agenda of English votes for English laws.

Love them or hate them, the political shrewdness of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon should not be underestimated. Nor should their savvy approach of hiding their intentions in plain sight, as Mr Salmond clearly did so when he would not talk down the possibility of a return to Westminster almost in the same breath he had used to tell us that he was standing down as SNP Leader.

Looking at all this and the chain of events which has unfolded over these past 8 months, we can argue that many of the omens or signs of what was to come were present early on. David Cameron and today’s Conservative Party have benefitted much more from that clearly ill-considered and badly thought out approach, just as the SNP have capitalised and effectively won an election by skilfully exploiting it at every move.

Blue FlushHowever, the blue flush phenomenon last Thursday doesn’t actually give Cameron the sweat-free incumbency that he would have us all believe. Indeed, we might all do well to remember that we have had months of being force-fed the realities of a guaranteed hung-parliament, which make this wafer-thin government majority look unfathomably spectacular just at this moment in time.

It is perhaps the fragility of the situation that has encouraged both the direct and indirect flurry of messages and policy announcements which have began to emanate from Downing Street at what seems like a hell’s pace.

Indeed, this Conservative Government looks set to push through as many big policy moves as it can within the shortest time possible, all before the illusion subsides and the true vulnerability of its situation is fully exposed by perhaps a few of the new Conservative MP’s finding their own voices, or a few more of those historical ‘bastards’ coming back into the open after biding their time during this illusory feel-good moment.

Rushed as they may seem, it’s not the obvious sound bites that come from the new ministerial post holders that should be causing us the most concern – even though some of those could have profound enough implications on their own.

No, it is the latest soundings by the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, indicating that a referendum on Europe should be held as early as possible, that give the greatest signal yet that just this one monumental process will be pushed through by the Government, before any real traction can be gained by a cross-party No Campaign.

On the face of it, Cameron cannot lose. Whilst the Conservatives will be able to paint themselves as decisive and promote what will be sold as a very big win, The other main Parties are successfully on target to be caught napping during their drawn out and self-focused leadership campaigns.

Indeed, Labour and the Lib Dems are in as much danger of allowing incompetently created constitutional policy to slip under the radar without any form of genuine opposition scrutiny, as UKIP is of missing its real hour of glory whilst it busily engages itself in a form of open warfare which is in danger of doing little more than showing how accurately similar the Party is to everyone else on the political block.

Europe, just like Scotland and the whole issue of devolved government, is far too big a question for all of us across the UK – with implications that are far-too-reaching, to be left to the machinations of political opportunism which has ironically been gifted to the Conservative Government by little more than a series of blunders.

Getting the relationship that we have with Europe right is essential. On one side, we must reclaim the levels of political and legislatory influence which our sovereign state should always have maintained and that we should experience as we ask the question about who is really in control.

But on the other, we also need to maintain a healthy relationship with a range of trading partners who probably have more to lose if we don’t get our relationship right than we do – a point that weak leadership will always willingly miss.

The UK may well be in a much better position for negotiation than politicians and the media would have us believe, but we will not achieve anything near what is the best arrangement for this Country if our direction of travel is left to the momentum of a political philosophy that even grassroots members of its own party cannot recognise, and which has to rely on the power of fear to manipulate the election results that have supported it.

On the 7th of May, none of the political parties lost anything in comparison to what the British public will lose if the critical moments which are going to come over the next few months are left to chance and go unchecked.

Whether its Liz, Andy, Mary, Yvette, Tim, Norman, Patrick or Suzanne who are considering their moment of glory, the big thing to do would be to focus on the challenges which the Country is facing, rather than continue to indulge and propagate everything that is wrong with our political system.

Image top; thanks to http://www.theguardian.com, below: unknown

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