Features

MPs grope men too

It's tough being young and blond in the Commons. I should know

25 January 2014

9:00 AM

25 January 2014

9:00 AM

As I walked out of the bar, I noticed a Conservative MP following me. It had been an evening for young political activists, mostly teenage boys, and it was drawing to an end. I pretended to be engrossed in my phone, but the MP — well-liked, universally respected — lurched towards me, placing his arm around my waist and leaning in close. I could smell the whisky and cigars on his breath. ‘I’m just going to the toilet,’ he slurred, winking and gesturing at the gents. I had only worked in and around Parliament for a year, but had been on the receiving end of enough unwanted advances from male Tory MPs to know exactly what he was proposing.

The Lord Rennard scandal has this week sparked much debate about the role of women in politics. Female Liberal Democrat members say their party is a ‘no-go zone’ for girls. Yet young men too can find themselves in the sights of less-than-Honourable Members. I’m blond-haired, blue-eyed and a newcomer in his early twenties. Gay Conservative backbenchers are eager for my company. The unfortunate fact that I am straight seems moot. As another twentysomething Westminster insider of similar appearance once told me, ‘We are their type.’

One of my closest calls was when I agreed to take a taxi home with a still (somehow) closeted Tory MP. We were both quite drunk. ‘Where do you live?’ he asked. I told him my south London postcode. He said that was near him and suggested we share a ride. We got into the taxi, whereupon he told the driver an address in north London. I made a few nervous noises. ‘Oh do come in for another drink,’ he implored. ‘It’s early.’ I said it was 2 a.m. and we both had work in the morning, but he persisted. I was reduced to fabricating a girlfriend who I had to meet. The lie worked but I was left with a 45-minute journey back south, and he stuck me with the whole bill.

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Predatory Tory MPs are most commonly found in Parliament’s Strangers’ Bar. It is the perfect location in many ways: a prime location in the Palace of Westminster where only Members and their guests are permitted entry, with access to the terrace for views of the river and central London. The rules at Strangers’ dictate that only MPs can buy drinks, so if a young guest wants a pint, he needs to find a Member to sponsor him. So almost every night, Strangers’ plays host to gay Tory MPs on the lookout for fresh meat. Standing in the middle of the room, hands clasped behind their backs and beer bellies sucked in, they survey the crowd. Parliamentary staff know this only too well: getting into Strangers’ is seen as a ticket to free drinks all evening. This scene is played out with most vigour on the eve of recess, when most MPs have gone home to their families but Parliament’s bachelors stick around to party with their staff, for whom school is out.

If things have gone well at Strangers’, it is on to the downmarket Players piano bar in Charing Cross for the MPs and their new friends. (I know one Honourable Member who keeps a leather jacket and skin-tight leather trousers in his office in case he needs something more appropriate to wear.) Players is often the place where gay MPs, sufficiently lubricated, decide to make their move. It was there that one Tory, a headline name, decided to run his hand up my thigh as the pianist played songs from Cabaret. Come for the mediocre musical entertainment, stay for the wandering hands of Westminster’s campest.

Whispers about lecherous MPs spread around Parliament like wildfire, so those with a reputation need a back-up plan. This is provided by way of the Young Conservative university circuit. Tory MPs often travel to campuses up and down the country to speak to members of their party’s youth wing. A hotbed of 18-year-old political geeks for whom meeting a Member of Parliament is like coming face to face with a rock star.  Some MPs know this full well, and play on it. One Tory backbencher would visit my old university regularly, each time selecting a few bright-eyed political virgins to stay with him for the weekend at his home in the country. They never came back quite the same.

Judging by the stories I hear from those who have had the misfortune of being more familiar with politicians’ attentions than me, I have got off lightly. There are concerning reports of an MP getting aggressive when a researcher he had bought drinks for refused to go home with him, and of staffers having to leave their jobs with MPs because their working relationships became untenable. There are even rumours of gay sexual assaults and victims considering going to the police. With the culture of inappropriate behaviour of Tory MPs towards young men that exists in Westminster, a scandal would come as no surprise.

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Show comments
  • The Fallen Angel

    Is this behaviour really just restricted to members of the Conservative Party Alex or is it that you have not been propositioned by Labour MPs????

    • MrJones

      Perhaps a bigger percentage of Tory MPs are homosexual so the Labour equivalent are molesting females instead?

      Didn’t one of the newspaper pundits claim at one point that 1/3 of Tory Mps were gay or am i misremembering?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.douglas.1042 Alan Douglas

    Of COURSE it is only Tory MPs. Would Chris Huhne, Hancock, Rennard, Cyril Smith, Simon Hughes, Jeremy Whatsisname, or Tom Driberg, “Lord” John Prescott and perhaps one other from any party dream of stooping so low as to sexually harass anyone, male of female ? Perish the thought ! Nowt as queer as MPs, methinks.

    • Richard Gadsden

      To be fair to Alex, he’s a Tory, so the MPs he’s likely to meet are Tories.

    • Dogzzz

      There are sexual preditors of all shades in all parties. They each have their fair share of letcherous old men or women, homosexual predators and paedophiles. Sexual preference and abuse of trust are not party political issues, they are human condition issues and where political power, and the power over other humans comes into play, then those sexually aggressive deviant tendencies will be even more prevalent, regardless of the party of the deviant.

    • Jonny

      Alex Wickham, of Guido Fawkes fame, is suddenly not willing to name names over an incident that would clearly embarrass the MP in question?

      He won’t because it didn’t happen. Guido’s never shied away from libel threats in the past. The fact that that Alex doesn’t have the conviction to stand by his allegations tells me all I need to know.

      Also, Gay Mafia? What is this, the 80’s?

      • David Prentice

        Did the Velvet Mafia ever go away?

    • rtj1211

      And of course in Damian Thompson, Cristina Odone etc etc’s eyes it is only the Liberal Democrats.

      You all need to grow up and realise that it is cross party.

      • BoiledCabbage

        if not cross dressed, cross party…….

  • ColinW

    Name the MP then.

    • Jake

      Who would have thought someone with a Lib Dem avatar would attack someone reporting sexual abuse…

    • Tom Tom

      You pay for him to hire Carter-Ruck

      • post_x_it

        Are they any good at defending against libel action? I thought they specialised in bringing them.

  • Roderick

    Not out of any prurient interest on my part, naturally, but since it appears to be open season for victimhood and sexual harassment claims, why don’t you name and shame?

    • Tom Tom

      Peter Tatchell should do that, not some poor teenager facing libel threats

      • Roderick

        Is that what Peter Tatchell told you to say? What’s it got to do with him? Which libel threats are you referring to?

      • Fergus Pickering

        He’s not a teenager. And perhaps, perhaps he finds it rather exciting. He sounds exciteable and a bit of a tease..

  • Kevin T

    You really do need to expose these people. Their voters have a right to know they’re putting sex predators in the House of Commons and other young men who work there have a right to be protected.

    • Tom Tom

      How is the investigation into Elm Guest House proceeding ?

      http://tinyurl.com/pf7xss5

      • The Laughing Cavalier

        Too many top people interested in hushing that one up in all three main political parties.

      • rtj1211

        I guess if any police officers were participants down there, not too well……..

  • Bruce Crawford

    The pressure and urgency of homosexual marriage and all that stuff starts to make much more sense.

    • Tom W Huxley

      To give gay politicians less of an excuse, you mean?

      • http://wrinkledweasel-resurgam.blogspot.co.uk/ wrinkledweasel

        Isn’t it obvious? I would vote for a gay MP as long as his political leanings were roughly in accordance with mine. His or her sexual orientation is irrelevant. But what is obvious is the level of deceit that gay MPs engage in to hide it, and that is plain wrong. It is not difficult for even you to be aware that there are several high profile gays who are married to women, for the sake of their careers, or others who are not “out”.

        David Laws got into a terrible tangle with it, but the most egregious aspect of Laws is that he is a LibDem. (Notwithstanding, I am glad he is back)

        Voters have to decide and it is important that their PPCs tell the truth. It’s a democracy – but only if those seeking to have power over us are open and honest.

        • therealguyfaux

          “It is not difficult for even you to be aware that there are several high profile gays who are married to women, for the sake of their careers, or others who are not ‘out’.”

          And then you had Bob Poofby, who really took the prize– he was not only married, he also had affairs with women as well, supposedly having one with the wife of Harold MacMillan. Bob allegedly fancied a bit of rough and had a “dally in the valley” with Ron Kray, a relationship hidden in plain sight, as they were even famously photographed together.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Boothby, the sexual king.

          • post_x_it

            Sounds a bit like Ron Davies, of “moment of madness” fame.

          • therealguyfaux

            But Poofby didn’t have Alastair Campbell trying to pass it off as mental instability evidenced by “courting” disaster. “Poor Ron– the bloke is suicidal, if only he’d realise it! Let us not cast stones!” Yet another Ali C hate-on, of those who were questioning a man’s intellect (and fitness for office based on seeming lack of same). But hey, “if Ali C is for us, who can be against us,” right?

  • http://wrinkledweasel-resurgam.blogspot.co.uk/ wrinkledweasel

    When I was blond, young and pretty it used to happen to me. I don’t blame them for it, except that my fey looks gave me a reputation I couldn’t live up to in the bum department – because unfortunately I was and am heterosexual. It was particularly irritating to be paired with some outrageous (and occasionally well known) gay at dinner parties where the host had already come to a view about me. On one occasion, I too shared a taxi with a famous luvvie but fortunately it only got as far as him giving me his telephone number. I made my excuses and let him pick up the cab fare. What could I have done? This was the 70s. I could have hardly gone around with “I am straight” tattooed on my forehead.

    • Rush_is_Right

      I used to find that a punch in the mouth got the point across pretty effectively.

      • http://wrinkledweasel-resurgam.blogspot.co.uk/ wrinkledweasel

        Not when they are offering to get you an NUJ card. In 1970s Britain, getting in to one of the most tyrannical unions in the country was perhaps worth a brief eye-watering moment. But, joking aside, anybody who disavows the idea that there are self-interest groups who favour their own is absurd. In those days the saying went that you had to be Catholic, Gay or an Alcoholic to get into the BBC. They could have added, “kiddy fiddler”.

        • The Fallen Angel

          No wonder Guy Burgess fit in so well….he was ALL of those things!!!!

    • rtj1211

      I’ve had I don’t know how many aggressive feminist women label me as gay. It may be something to do with the fact that I am completely turned off by hypocritical self-hating women who want a poodle for a husband.

      Amazing how its a sacking offence in financial services to discuss someone’s sexuality but when a feminist does precisely that in what my Director told me was a ‘corporate finance boutique’ that it was just dandy…..

  • Tom K

    Tagged “gay mafia”? What is this, 1994? Hammers home the homophobic undercurrent to this piece.

    • Dogzzz

      So criticising sexual harassment from members of the same gender makes one homophobic now does it? Unbelievable.

      • Tom K

        Nothing the author describes suggests that this behaviour is cabalistic or organised – in any way like a mafia – on the part of the MPs he alleges are responsible. So whence the justification for terming it a gay mafia? Other than as part of an undercurrent of “filthy gays, this is exactly what you’d expect”.

        • http://wrinkledweasel-resurgam.blogspot.co.uk/ wrinkledweasel

          Rev Flowers tells us he got the Co Op job because of “friends in high places” I imagine he means a lavatory at the top of a multistory car park.

          • 1985Tom

            A spoof twitter account pretending to be Paul Flowers said that, and the credulous Daily Mail believed it; I don’t think he’s said it himself, though.

          • post_x_it

            Judging from the photos, I doubt the Rev Flowers is the type who can extract benefits in return for sexual favours.

        • MrJones

          If it’s as common as stated and yet the public are completely unaware then it is obviously being covered up in an organised way.

  • Dogzzz

    That is the problem with political correctness in the public sector. It legitimises homosexual sexual harassment. If you complain, you are labelled homophobic and sacked.

  • https://twitter.com/jockitsch Jocelyn Kitsch

    Well it’s hard to be a saint in the city … tales from a “blond-haired, blue-eyed … newcomer in his early twenties” sloshing with free booze leave me a little bemused if not surprised. Who would have thought for Gay Conservatives ‘We are their type’ would be something of a hitler youth poster boy?
    Anyway a tory gay mafia … all you can drink plus cab rides home … and doubtless also jobs, what can one say but business as usual. However: Sexual assaults are sexual assaults – this is just Tory Boys climbing the greasy pol’.

    • grutchyngfysch

      Astounding. I sincerely hope you’re as equanimous about young women being coerced into sexual activity with “job prospects” as the carrot, and “career collapse” as the stick.

      • https://twitter.com/jockitsch Jocelyn Kitsch

        Nonsense, as I differentiated: sexual assault should be taken seriously. This is a much more a rather booze soaked trading of favours …by those with the morals to match their chosen path.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Nonsense: such differentiation is precisely the tactic used by the men who do the same to young women. I mean, for heaven’s sake, your concluding sentence could be taken straight from Rennard’s or Handcock’s snivelling self-justifications. The fact that sexual assault isn’t sexual assault if it’s carried out on a Tory speaks volumes.

          • https://twitter.com/jockitsch Jocelyn Kitsch

            Nonsense. Although to be fair and acknowledge my own prejudices, I would rather tory researchers suffered than experiments be carried out on small animals, including rats … These are ambitious adult males dealing with the clearly predatory old closet-queens of the tory ilk … quite frankly, pass me the worlds smallest violin, who cares!

          • grutchyngfysch

            I hope you are never in a position where you feel sexually harassed or assaulted and the person you rely on to administer justice turns to you and says: “you’re an ambitious woman in an office full of red-blooded men… who cares?”.

            I’d like to just write you off as a sad bigot, but the truth is, your views are shared by many like minded Tory-hating crusaders. It never ceases to astound me that a group that is so transparently inconsistent and morally feckless continues to be seen as the default position for politics.

    • Tom Tom

      MPs should be like teachers and bound by Childrens Act 2004 and ALL MPs should have DBS checks

      • Fergus Pickering

        But we’re not talking about children. Children can’t drink in the bars.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Why? MPs don’t come into contact with children through their jobs. This Alex is free, white and over age. Why does he need special protection?

  • Peter Stroud

    I bet if Tom Driberg (Labour) was still in the Commons he would have made a bee line for young Alex. Jeremy Thorpe (Liberal) would not have been far behind.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Tom Driberg chased the young Martin Amis round a table. And Amis’s father was propositioned by Francis Bacon. I feel a bit left out. Only a dirty old man when I was in the wolf cubs.

  • Ringstone

    Are none of these people sober past lunchtime?

    • roger

      Very few.

    • James Lovelace

      No, they are just too decrepit to be able to distinguish between the original article and the comments. Some of them lick their fingers then flick the top right corner of their laptop in order to move to the next page.

  • James

    I don’t know why Alex Wickham thinks he’s blond. He doesn’t look it.

    • Fergus Pickering

      What does he look like? Can we have a photo of the chap?

  • Nick Lincoln

    Bugger me they are all at it!

  • JohnnyFox

    Oh name the bloody names or don’t write this sort of cr*p. And is The Players Theatre really ‘downmarket’ ? Most of the punters in there look far more recently washed than across the alleyway in Heaven.

    • Tom Tom

      You fund his legal protection…..put your money where your mouth is. We have NEVER had the promised Libel Law Reform. We need US libel laws not English ones

      • Lee Robert

        Tom Tom, we do have libel law Reform in the shape of the new 2013 defamation law which became Law on 1st January 2014. Now those that are libeled have to prove the libel and prove it damaged them, under the old law libel and damage to reputation did not have to be proved.

    • Lee Robert

      I agree Johnny, put up or shut up.

  • Tom Tom

    This is an excellent article and perhaps explains the traces of cocaine in those same gents. It is time that the extent of deviationism from constituents’ lives and daily experience was made transparent. For too long the public has been saddled the the costs of having an unrepresentative clique running up bills and legislating while key issues of concern to the public are ignored or ridiculed

    • saintlaw

      How did you know it was cocaine?

  • Starbuck Coleman

    What an unfair article Alex, having worked in the HOC for 5 years this is quite simply not the case. You have grossly distorted the reality of life in parliament whilst systematically slandering every gay MP with allegations of sexual assault. This is a negligent piece with a distasteful homophobic undertone. Shame on you, I thought you had more integrity.

  • NotYouNotSure

    If some man tries to grope you, you punch him in the face, regardless how senior a politician he is or how much of PC witch hunt you will have to endure. I would like it that women do the same to men that grope them, except that this is generally more dangerous because of physical strength differences.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Well, he might be physically weak, mightn’t he?

  • Lee Robert

    We have a gay justice minister Simon Hughes, a gay Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, a Gay MP Conor Burns and they do not give a damn about what happens to Gay men !

    • Tom W Huxley

      This may come as a surprise to Chris Grayling’s wife and two children…

      • Lee Robert

        I am sure that it would. In his case I meant Gay as in happy, happy to dismantle the justice system. ;>} the word is open to subjective interpretation :-

        ” lighthearted and carefree : Nan had a gay disposition and a very pretty face.
        • characterized by cheerfulness or pleasure : we had a gay old time. (Perhaps that is where they got the Flintstones song)
        • brightly colored; showy; brilliant : a gay profusion of purple and pink sweet peas.” the contemporary definition has only been around for 90 years, and for far longer than that the above definition stood, and still does with many of the older generation.

        • La Fold

          SUSSED!!

  • Ricky Strong

    Sounds like some of you in the commons need to ‘man up’ a bit. If someone tries to sexually assault you break their nose. I wouldn’t stand for that rubbish, either on myself or if I saw it being done to another.

  • saintlaw

    The bit about being made to foot the taxi bill after the Member was rebuffed.

    A tory lol – who’d have thought?

  • Lee Robert

    Judge your MP by the company that they keep. This is my Gay MP with the old Pope http://www.flickr.com/photos/conorburns/5407812466/ this is him with George Bush Jnr. https://twitter.com/Conor_BurnsMP/status/363715431657267200 and with his late good friend Dame homophobe Thatcher

    http://www.cps.org.uk/blog/q/date/2011/07/04/the-mention-of-ronald-reagan-s-name-brings-an-immediate-smile-to-lady-thatcher-s-face/ what more need I say ;>{

  • Alistair Kerr

    Strange! I do not doubt Alex’s veracity but I worked in Parliament for two years and never noticed any of this sort of thing! I suppose that I was just too busy – and not handsome enough. I do remember the Strangers’ Bar as a fairly deadful, drunken sort of place However there are other more congenial bars nearby…

  • George Scoresby

    What a lovely bunch of gay lovelies have been out tonight – I’ve just scanned the votes in the comments below and I had to drop down through to the eleventh comment before I found one negative vote – it seems like Bruce and Tom have broken the spell – shame on the both of you.

  • George Scoresby

    I’m amazed. It’s an epiphany. You gay people just don’t shoot each other down in the comments section. You vote positive or you don’t vote at all. Wonderful. I mean Kevin T has 62 positive votes and not one negative. I never get that. How do you do it, Kevin?

  • Eddie

    Alex, you are not 7 years old. You are 18 or 19. A grown-up. So behave like one, or at least try. The adult world involves negotiating obstacles and threats, and also to work out secksual relations (or attempt to). It is all very messy. It is all very human.

    Just as ordinary human behaviour has been medicalised (with multiple fake disorders now diagnosed leading to real child abuse – feeding kids mood-altering pills!), ordinary human relations are now classed as abuse, bullying etc. The definition of these words has changed. So these days, if someone calls you a name, that is ‘bullying’ whereas 30 years ago it was a part of childhood. Ditto with ‘abuse’ which is now defined as anything that hurts anyone’s feelings, it seems!

    These words are in this way devalued by overuse and crying wolf. That is a shame.
    So some victimhood-craving bint shrieks abuse because a man patted her leg and suggested a dinner date; that same word and concept ‘abuse’ is also used to describe the experience of a 5 year old rayped and imprisoned by a grooming gang. The comparison is sick.

  • Eddie

    At the BBC, powerful women rule and indulge in this too, it seems:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/354442/Suicide-of-sexually-harassed-BBC-man

  • mikewaller

    As we both pay for and empower these people, I for one bitterly resent those who seek to use that power to suborn others – often dependent on their favour – into participating in sexual acts they find repellent. What is clearly needed is for all in such positions to be given the kind of forewarning Rod Liddle tells us on the adjacent page he was given prior to his thankfully brief stint as a programme editor on Radio 4: “Don’t shag the staff”. For those who think this too restrictive and at the same time too narrow, perhaps a better formulation for beneficiaries of the public purse such as MPs and their Lordships would be in respect of both staff and members of the public; “Ask politely no more than once, and only proceed on a clear, non-intoxicated, affirmative”. If that is too tough, opt for another line of work.

    As for general thrust of RL’s piece, the mere fact that that some individuals are outstandingly sexually attractive, does not give the rest of the species pawing rights over all and sundry.

  • foxoles

    ‘Players is often the place where gay MPs, sufficiently lubricated, decide to make their move.’

    I think you might have phrased that better …

  • Rob Erta

    This is a lamp that I’ve found useful for eluding the dark and despotic march of most of mankind: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • SimonToo

    “Political geeks for whom meeting a Member of Parliament is like coming face to face with a rock star”. Oh, the tragedy of some lives!

  • Picquet

    Don’t you have sharp knees? You certainly have no balls.

  • Justinwalker

    It is widely accepted that paedophilia is how the Establishment keeps their ‘useful idiots’ in line and under their control – as someone has already commented below,, when will the truth about the Elm Guest house finally come out? And I wonder how many MPs in Parliament today are practising paedophiles?

    • saffrin

      Judges give very lenient sentences to child botherers.
      Ever wondered why?

      • Fergus Pickering

        But they don’t. Justify this assertion.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Because they are all at it, perhaps… and don’t let’s forget Harriet Longford Harperson’s endorsement of the PIE and all the utterly revolting people contained therein.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Well, I don’t know.How many practising paedophiles are there about the place in general?

  • John Hawkins Totnes

    Ever thought of naming and shaming?

  • messy1a

    But isn’t refuseing to celebrate homosexuality, such as the article above, homophobia at it’s worst.

    • Doggie Roussel

      Are you suggesting that the publicly-elected representatives of this country should be applauded for chasing catamites around the Palace of Westminster ?

  • revkevblue

    It begs the question how many of them declared vested interest in the change to the recent homosexual laws?

    • vieuxceps2

      It does NOT beg the question.It raises it.Why has this phrase become the opposite to its meaning?

      • revkevblue

        Is English your second language?
        As you do not seem to have a very good grasp of it.

        • vieuxceps2

          English is my mother-tongue.i’ve spoken it for over three score years.Your use of “beg the question”is the oipposite of what you meant.I have a fine grasp of the language. Would you like some tuition?

          • revkevblue

            If you are going to set yourself up as the teachers monitor of the English language, then please, if you wish to quote me, do me the courtesy of quoting me correctly.
            I said “It begs the question.” Not. “beg the question.”
            By the way I have over 4 more decades of using my English mother tongue than you, in fact I have children older than your three score years.
            So please do not bother me anymore with your inane superfluity.

          • vieuxceps2

            Some tuition for you:-
            “teachers monitor”-Apostrophe perhaps?
            “beg the question”-not a quote. Simply a phrase used to mean “avoid
            the question”,ie, not as you used it.
            4 more decades than three score makes you over 100. Congratulations.
            “inane superfluity”- Not sure that this means anything at all.Do not confuse polysyllables with sense.

  • jesseventura2

    Tony the phony Blair removed the rest room/toilet cops and no politician,clergyman,actor ballet dancer,scout master has ever been caught importuning since?
    Will the con lib dems bring back the toilet cops?

    • Doggie Roussel

      Are you saying that there were state-funded narks patrolling the khazis in Westminster?

    • XCOM5

      We don’t have “rest rooms” in the UK, you pigdog American homofag.

  • vieuxceps2

    You know, I really would not mind this parliamentary sexual sleaze so much if it were heterosexual,, or normal as we once called it. However, the concept of predatory, slimy poofters with vaseline crawling the palace of Westminster in search of naif sodomite partners makes me nauseous.Is this what “gay liberation” means?

    • Doggie Roussel

      No chance of you supporting gay marriage then, me old mushroom !

      • Ingenious Cognomen

        But a very good chance of the fat old pedo supporting a reduction in the age of consent!

  • Sanchez

    These bloody perves want ousting from parliament.

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