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The Liberal’s ‘unsellable’ agenda

Fat Man

One of the most interesting post-election whinges we’ve seen from the Liberals is Perth MP, Andrew Hastie’s confession that he found it hard to stay on message with Turnbull’s ‘jobs and growth’ campaign, so ended up, in his words, basically running his own show. He explains that he realised he couldn’t keep up the party-line when he found himself struggling to explain to a constituent how the Liberal’s plans would benefit the man’s children. I heard Liberal Rowan Ramsey, whose electorate of Grey in Adelaide’s far-northern manufacturing and farming belt, say something similar on ABC radio this morning, explaining that the ‘innovative’ and ‘agile’ lines parroted by Turnbull had little connection with the voters he was trying to persuade to support him rather than Xenophon’s NXT candidate – who may still win his seat.

What struck me is that these Liberal candidates are using this criticism as a suggestion that Turnbull’s campaign wasn’t effective for their electorates, when actually, what they are saying is that the Liberal policy platform, indeed, the Liberal’s entire ideological worldview, is really hard to sell to voters. There’s a reason for that. And can I suggest to Hastie and Ramsey and any other Liberal candidate who felt the $50 billion tax-cut to big business was a difficult ‘sell’, and cutting education and healthcare funding was a difficult ‘sell’, perhaps should think about changing political parties before they go ‘off message’, which is basically akin to false advertising.

This hard-sell is the reason Turnbull’s campaign was a lot of flaff, colour and cheese, but very light on actual policy detail, or strong arguments in favour of a policy platform. Deep down, the Liberals know that there is no argument that can convince people that trickle-down economics is an effective wealth generator for ordinary Australians, that is, the 99% of Australians who aren’t super wealthy. There’s no simple catch-phrase or slogan that can hide the fact that a corporate tax cut makes the rich richer, and sends a lot of profit off-shore, with barely any discernible impact on GDP growth. The vast majority of Australian journalists would no doubt blame Turnbull’s ‘messaging’, or ‘campaigning’ on this disconnect between what voters want, and what Turnbull is offering. But the truth is, no matter how well advertised a can of soft drink is, no matter how much money is spent on savvy strategists, opinion polling and glitzy campaign launches, or how many journalists campaign for this world-view, if people taste the drink and it tastes like cat-piss, they’re not going to buy it. Or, more importantly, they’re not going to buy it a second time.

A man like Turnbull, who lives in a harbourside mansion worth god-knows-how-many-tens-of-millions, who made his money in unproductive merchant banking, who uses Panama tax-havens to ensure his own astronomical wealth continues to grow at a pace grossly outstripping low, average and middle income wealth growth, will, I suggest, find it difficult to come up with a really convincing reason why an ordinary Australian should support a trickle-down economic agenda, which has, for the last 20 years at least, failed to have a positive impact on their livelihood. Turnbull is out-of-touch with electoral tastes because he is out-of-touch with the real needs and wants of the electorate.

Let’s get something straight. This is not class war. This is class awakening. Ordinary Australians, even Liberal candidates, are realising that leaders like Turnbull and his Liberal colleagues, don’t have the best interests of ordinary Australians at heart when they stake their political careers on policies that hurt ordinary Australians. It was bound to happen eventually.

So what can Hastie and Ramsay and any other Liberal candidate do who finds it difficult to sell the Liberal’s cuts to education, to healthcare, a slow NBN, cuts to arts funding, a $50 billion gift to mostly-offshore-multinationals, a pathetic-wasteful-not-effective Direct Action climate policy, lower-wages-through-threats-to-penalty-rates, a freezing of the childcare rebate and any other number of policies which have the net-result of increasing wealth inequality at the expense of the wealth of the 1%? The answer is not in messaging, or in finding a more authentic ‘real tradie’, or changing leaders to see if someone else can sell the snake-oil to the ordinary folk more effectively. The answer is having a good long hard look at a world-view which doesn’t serve the interests of the Australian electorate, who have the democratic hiring and firing power to choose who runs the country. If the electorate doesn’t like what you’ve got to offer, maybe it’s time to change that offering. If Liberal candidates want to campaign on a platform that’s easier to ‘sell’ to voters, such as offering better education, better healthcare, infrastructure and an array of social and economic policies which reduce wealth inequality and low-and-behold, create the growth and jobs which the Liberal’s trickle-down policies do not, maybe they should campaign for the Labor Party.


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  1. Athena

    Andrew Hastie is a man of integrity. When he has realised that his party’s campaign is a fake, he keeps on representing them anyway.

  2. 1petermcc

    Or they could follow Cory’s idea and create another faction within the Party and make a real pigs breakfast of the donnybrook that is about to erupt.

  3. Athena

    I’ve read on Farcebook that Cory’s new party will be called Cory’s United National Team.

  4. Angry Old Man


    Well said, comrade!

  5. Jaquix

    Love that line ITS A CLASS AWAKENING. Ive already commented that Andrew Hastie should swap sides, if he has seen the light. Wonder how that would work out? The Libs are lazy and are very lucky they have the media on their side, and have done since time immemorial in Australia. I think a lot of people who made protest votes might now be wondering, Oh no, now Im stuck with copper – wonder how Im going to go with that operation I need, blood tests, etc etc. All still there in the Lib lineup. They were understandably blinded by the Tv/newspaper coverage along the popularity/personality lines. Not enough of the media are doing their job. Only in the last few days have we seen much honest journalism pointing out the flaws in the Libs’ line, and their record. Too late, she cried. Now we have the spectacle of the mesmerising Malcolm crawling along towards in a limping to the line. There will be a lot more than 20 marginal seats next time around, and meantime there is a lot of legislation that they are never going to get through the system, the budget will get worse and worse, and maybe next time they will get knocked off their slippery little perches properly. Such a waste of our valuable time.

  6. Freethinker

    I share the views of the author but have some discrepancies regarding, that ordinary Australian will not support a trickle-down economic agenda.
    The sad reality is that nearly 5.100.000 voters accepted the Coalition so called “plan”, that they have voted for Malcolm because he should know how to improve the Australian economy because he is a very successful business person, etc,etc
    I am not sure if the agenda was unsaleable, further more IMO if the ALP do not exaggerate the Medicare issue to make people realize the agenda or ideology of the Liberal party, the plan and Job and Growth will be a winner by majority.
    Sorry to be so negative, perhaps I was optimistic that the electorate will be weak up by now but it is not.
    I guess that here in AIMN we tend to look things under our politically educated views but ours not necessary are the views of the majority.

  7. Athena

    Approximately 50% of the population have voted for copper and increased cost of pathology services. The responsibility lies with the people who voted for it, not the protest voters.

    When the known Liberal voters start whining about how they are being screwed by the government, I point out that they voted for it and there’s a long history of evidence that could reliably predict what the LNP would do.

  8. Athena

    “The sad reality is that nearly 5.100.000 voters accepted the Coalition so called “plan”, that they have voted for Malcolm because he should know how to improve the Australian economy because he is a very successful business person, etc,etc”

    I’ve come across that justification of the successful businessman a lot. Obviously these people are blissfully unaware that many successful business people that have reached the levels equivalent to Turnbull have no qualms screwing everybody else to get what they want.

  9. Kronomex

    The excuse of using the ABCC as the reason for the double dissolution was bullshit. Anyone with any sense knew that it was all about trying to rid the Senate of the ferals. I’m also just waiting for Malcontent Turncoat to claim he has been given a mandate by the voters. A friend of mine who once thought that he would be “et tu, Brute’d” by the rabid right wing in 12 – 18 months now gives him a lifespan of 6 months. I’ll give him 8 months and Morriscum or, horrifying thought, Rasputin Abbott will take over.

    It’s always a case of Party first, Party second, everything else is incidental except when an election is called and then the little person is suddenly remembered.

  10. Jaquix

    The media have blinded readers/watchers with a bombardment of popularity/personality stuff, not highlighting the huge policy differences. In fact they have glibly tossed policy aside with the mantra “they’re pretty much the same, but Malcolm is more charming and popular”. Not so popular right now. The count is so close in so many electorates, that if only a few hundred more voters had bitten the bullet and chose a party which had a solid policy platform, as their first choice, the country would be looking at a different future. But the long term media propaganda machine is relentless, and many still under its thrall, or voting as their ancestors did. This time Murdoch was more muted, seeing he doesnt like Turnbull. Next election there will be a lot more than 20 marginal seats. Anyway, its an interesting time to be a political junkie !

  11. Freethinker

    Jaquix, the media is at fault but the majority of people that voted against ALP policies is because “where is the money to pay for that? when we are going to pay the debt, etc etc.
    Politically educated people do not care about what the media have to say, they have enough intelligence or in some cases more aware to have an educated opinion.
    There are others that should never vote and are those with the attitude “why bother. they are all the same”

  12. Jaquix

    Freethinker (love your name) in fact your first sentence proves what Ive been saying – because that line of “Labor is the big spender, spend, spend, spend, repairing the budget etc is exactly the line the media always uses – over many, many years. They just repeat the Liberal mantras, with very little scrutiny. So the brainwashing has gone on for the lifetime of many of these people. I know people like this, they are not politically aware or educated, and swallow the line. Totally agree with your last line!

  13. keerti

    It might be worth pointing out here but as part of the jobs and growth crap that the TTP which is supposed to bring greater prosperity is more likely to increase imports over exports. This has been the case with previous international trade agreements. Of course trade agreements are not made to benefit countries, they are made to benefit the same multinationals the liberals want to make a gift of $50 billion to. Even the most uneducated of minds to figure out that a collective gift of 50 billion will be received and paid as profits to shareholders. In addition a further 70 million spent on submarines that we don’t need simply has the effect of exporting jobs to France. The same and educated mind is also quite able to add those two figures together, see that they won’t produce any benefit to almost any taxpayer and that the same money kept in the country would mean that cuts to education, Social Security and Medicare would not need to happen. There have been two prime ministers in this country now cut down for arrogance. The first was Keating, one of the best prime ministers we’ve ever had and now Turnbull the hollow man.

  14. Dave

    Stop Press Scott Morrison in code in a press conference a few minutes ago announces full steam ahead to cut company tax. His reason; the warning against loosing our AAA credit rating. In other words any ploy any manipulation to carry on with the Liberals Big Business anti people Fundamentalists’ agenda. Steady as she goes for these arseholes….

  15. Steve Laing -

    Hastie recounted that a voter was voting for the Libs because they supported Gonski. I bet he didn’t tell him that they didn’t!

    The problem is that as much as modern politics is about ideology, it is actually more about the gaining and then (ab)use of the power that wining provides. The LNP do have a plan for health and education. Its part of their Economic Plan for Jobs and Growth. Which, if you listened hard enough, would realise is the 2016 budget. So everything that is in there (and very deliberately not being actively talked about) is that plan. It includes all those nasties from the 2014 and 2015 budgets that didn’t pass, and which they fully intend to push through this parliament. Why do you think all the LNP ministers were kept as far from the frontline as possible in the election? Because their presence would have required the commentariat to ask questions – no ministers, no scrutiny. Easy. The lack of response to “Mediscare” from the Sussan Ley all but confirms that this was the strategy, because as Hastie stupidly failed to recognise, the LNP policies stink so of course they aren’t to be talked about.

    But the problem that Labor has is that they are always fighting an uphill battle. They don’t have the money, they don’t have the media influence, and they have scruples. Unlike the LNP for whom telling lies and misinforming people is in their DNA. They are more than happy to pull a fast one on the electorate, and applaud themselves for it – aren’t we clever! You just need to look at ScoMo’s face to realise that. They are con artists, absolutely no doubt about it.

    But the bigger question is, given that the LNP will change nothing that will impact themselves, how do we beat this impasse? How do we level the playing field? That is the question.

    The LNP did seriously fck up with allowing the senate changes however, though Labor playing politics on that one might have stopped that one (fortunately the Greens played the long game and we will at least see a properly representative senate going forward). But personally, I think that one of the first things necessary is for Labor, and its supporters, to stop beating up on the Greens. I actually think that has done no favours for either party – the LNP enjoy that division, and will keep finding ways to widen it. Labor need to be confident in their ability, instead of being defensive. If they lose seats to the Greens, it is actually not a loss.

    Another great article Victoria. It’s really got me thinking again 🙂

  16. townsvilleblog

    Unbelievable, they have nearly lost the election, yet they continue with the $48 billion tax giveaway of “our” tax money, it couldn’t be their tax money because they pay bugger all as it is. These tory toads won’t be satisfied until a full blown revolution takes place will they?

  17. Athena

    “But the problem that Labor has is that they are always fighting an uphill battle. They don’t have the money, they don’t have the media influence, and they have scruples……
    But the bigger question is, given that the LNP will change nothing that will impact themselves, how do we beat this impasse? How do we level the playing field?”

    The ALP may not have as much money as the Liberals, but they do have many millions of dollars in donations and for the votes they receive.

    GetUp is funded by ordinary Australians and relies on mainly volunteer labour. They don’t have huge donations from unions and big business. They didn’t use a scare campaign or lies. Out of the 12 coalition seats lost so far, 8 of them were members of the hard right faction and blockers of progressive policy. The seats they targeted had bigger swings against the coalition than many other seats. Eric Abetz is so annoyed by GetUp’s success that he is threatening to remove their charity status. There’s only one small problem. GetUp is not a charity. :p If GetUp can achieve what they did, so can the ALP.

  18. Kaye Lee

    The ratings agencies said our rating might be in danger AFTER the budget was brought down because it didn’t do enough to reduce the deficit. They never once mentioned company tax cuts but they did mention how the budget contained measures that were unlikely to pass and that nominal GDP growth was “subdued” making projections optimistic at best. They noted the spending agenda too – $195 billion on defence materiel over the next ten years, most of it going to overseas manufacturers, isn’t helping the deficit.

  19. townsvilleblog

    Steve Liang the Senate changes were The Greens policy as well as the tories!

  20. Phil

    To apply that well worn cliche – the elephant in the LNP party room is neoliberalism – the Coalition is captivated by their elephant. If the elephant were to be led out of the room and domiciled in some obscure zoo, then the LNP would lose all sense of purpose and direction. The blindness the LNP neoliberal mandarins is to obvious evidence that they have abandoned and exposed Australians to the unrelenting forces of corporate greed and self interest.

    The Union movement, the Labor Party and the GetUp activist group campaigned in support of the fundamental needs of any civil society – health, education, environment, equality. The LNP came to the election riding its neoliberal elephant and with three years of failed attempts to impose its almost universally despised corporate agenda. Fail – the people rejected it – yet still the LNP cannot see the facts staring them in the face.

    LNP is on notice that its marriage to neoliberalism will see it ,not simply thrown out in 2019, but the conservative movement itself will break up into warring tribes. Let the games begin.

  21. Athena

    “LNP is on notice that its marriage to neoliberalism will see it ,not simply thrown out in 2019, but the conservative movement itself will break up into warring tribes. Let the games begin.”

    I’d like to hope that the people will soon wake up and reject neoliberalism on a grand scale, but at the moment I think the rejection of much of what the LNP has to offer is not due to rejecting all that neoliberalism has to offer, rather single issues instead. The Hanson supporters have a racist/bigoted agenda. The more moderate conservatives may have supported same sex marriage, Medicare or renewable energy. There are also left leaning voters who support some aspects of neoliberalism without recognising it for what it is.

  22. Dan Rowden

    Putting aside Victoria’s clumsy metaphor, I think her broader point is worth discussion and debate. The minor party and independent experiment we’ve just engaged in has consequences. Minor parties and independents do not have “costed” policies – it’s a bit generous to say they even have properly formulated policies. What they have is ideas driven by a specific agenda. To be perfectly candid, if you think that agenda is to have a “better democracy” you’re being deliberately naive (ok, I’ll concede that possibly ODD has that as their political agenda).

    As I’ve said to Jennifer Meyer-Smith, who appears to be the most vocal advocate for this approach around these parts, that protest voting is a dangerous game and a highly problematic attitude to encourage. Now, is “protest vote” a simplistic and unfair characterisation of voting for minors and independents? Possibly, yet the call to do so has always been accompanied by “Lib/Lab Duopoly” rhetoric and expressions of voter disenchantment with the status quo, so if “protest vote” is not a sufficient description of the sentiment it is certainly a necessary one.

    But as I’ve said, this sentiment resonates throughout the electorate like a low level seismic event whose effects are felt in every home. That effect doesn’t stop outside conservatives or RWNJ houses and thinks, “Oh, we don’t belong here, we’re only here for the progressives”.

    It’s the easiest thing in the world to stand up and tap into that sense of disenfranchisement and cynically exploit it. There’s little qualitative political difference between not listening to the electorate and telling the electorate what they apparently want to hear, merely for the sake of endearing oneself to said electorate. Both things suck.

    Political popolarismo exploiting populist feelings can be as potentially liberating for an electorate as it can be perilous. The intellectually retarded and disingenuous can tap into the vein of this sentiment as efficiently as the intellectually gifted and authentic. There are no prizes on offer for guessing which type of persons are currently applying the most productive cannula.

    Xenophon, Hinch, Hanson, Lambie, Fred Nile(?) – all populists evincing various degrees of substance. Oh, for the purposes of this post “Populism”:

    a political position which holds that the virtuous citizens are being mistreated by a small circle of elites, who can be overthrown if the people recognize the danger and work together.

    As you can see from this fairly standard definition, electors from one end of the political spectrum to the other are able to see their reality and grievances embedded within it. That fact makes it simultaneously infinitely meaningful and meaningless. That fact makes populist sentiment dangerous.

    It may be a misreading of the process and history on my part, but it seems to me that the “Left” went from a condition of breathless desperation to be rid of Tony Abbott and his exponentially growing pond-scum to a curiously comfortable willingness to experiment with minors and indies upon the election of Malcolm Turnbull. For mine, Turnbull conned us all, despite our pretence to not having been – on any level, in any way. We were actually openly vainglorious about how clearly we saw through Turnbull. Yet, that breathless but energised desperation, which led Australians to march in the streets, evaporated. All that was left was Twitter smugness and political blog banter. The truth is we did relax and therein lies the fact of our having been conned.

    During the Abbott tumult there was barely any talk, that I can remember, of Lib/Lab duopoly, of minor party and indie “Alliances”. There was no sense of willingness to indulge in such a social experiment. The exigency of defeating Abbott at all cost was far too great, too immediate. Our focus during that period was on whether or not Bill Shorten was the man to meet that challenge. I appreciate that an election campaign brings forth different dynamics and different foci, but I nevertheless question whether we’d have been remotely contemplating this experiment – and is is and was and remains an experiment – with minors and indies had Abbott still been Prime Minister. My contention, my proposition, my premise, is that we would not and that we only did so because the elevation of Turnbull to the Prime Ministership caused us to let down our guard and contemplate such a thing.

    But hey, it’s just a theory that I think is worth tossing around. You may not see the election result in as negative a light as me, and to be fair to Labor, they actually gave it a red hot go with what appears to have been a pretty serious funding deficit in many electorates, but overall there are questions to be asked about what we’ve just done.

    And what have we done? Well, arguably, we’ve just made things worse.

  23. Athena

    Well Dan, when whoever forms government finds it bloody hopeless going to work with the mix they have in the parliament, they can bloody well start listening to the people instead of serving their wealthy puppet masters. It’s their job to represent us. It’s not our job to keep on electing incompetents and the corrupted.

  24. Dan Rowden


    But the problem that Labor has is that they are always fighting an uphill battle. They don’t have the money, they don’t have the media influence, and they have scruples.

    The difficulties Labor faces with the electorate have never really changed, whatever the facts in evidence. Without meaning to self-promote, I wrote about this 3 years ago. Nothing has changed.

  25. Dan Rowden


    Well Dan, when whoever forms government finds it bloody hopeless going to work with the mix they have in the parliament, they can bloody well start listening to the people instead of serving their wealthy puppet masters. It’s their job to represent us. It’s not our job to keep on electing incompetents and the corrupted.

    Yes, it’s platitudinously true to say it’s their job to represent us. The answer to the question of “how” is a little more complex. Just for example, there might be a general sense of consensus between AIMN people that the Lib/Lab asylum seeker policy rubric is wrong, but finding a consensus on exactly how and exactly in what way to address it, is almost impossible. There’s nothing a political party can do with generalised feelings. Policy structure needs concrete ideas. Given the ultimate diversity of opinion on that one policy area example, it’s easy to see how not everyone can be appeased on almost any issue.

    I think may of us have forgotten what consequences, politically, a highly complex and pluralistic society creates. It makes it incredibly hard to formulate policy – in any area at all – that isn’t divisive and necessarily disenfranchises some segment of the community. It’s an intractable problem and one that I think we always have to be a little cognizant of in our judgements about political performance.

    Instead of being perpetually dissatisfied i think our emotional and intellectual efforts are best directed at constructing the best possible arguments we can for our position on things. To “win” we really have to be the most compelling voice in the argument. The difficult thing, of course, is that we’re arguing to a bunch of people who don’t really value argument. There’s a creeping anti-intellectualism in OZ culture at the moment and it’s leeching into our political sphere, and fools like Hanson are speaking to it. Somehow we have to find a way to halt this dynamic’s momentum.

    I don’t know what that is, but I know we have to find it.

  26. Pam

    He should not be in the Liberal party as he obviosly does not know how to lie nor like the idea of it. Lying well is one of the cedentials for Lib members I would have thought because they all do it so well and so often.

  27. Florence nee Fedup

    Only mandates amy election gives, is enough MPs on floor both houses to pass legislation. If you don’t get that, is up to decisions MPs elected. #auspol

  28. cornlegend

    Bob Katter will support a Coalition government in the event of a hung parliament.
    Was there ever any doubt?
    Now Malcolm can move on to Nick and Cathy to secure his base

  29. Freethinker

    cornlegend we have to agree that Bob have done what his electorate want. ALP or any progressive party are not welcome there.

  30. jimhaz

    [My contention, my proposition, my premise, is that we would not and that we only did so because the elevation of Turnbull to the Prime Ministership caused us to let down our guard and contemplate such a thing]

    It did for me, though I’ve not had any interest in the alliance fantasy. I thought the more traditional conservatives would be in control of the party to enough degree to temper the excesses of the far right. I also though MT would actually have plan to generate future wealth rather than to just rely on market mechanisms.

    However, Keating was right again. to quote ” MT is a bit like a big red bunger on cracker night. You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz but then nothing…nothing,”

  31. Athena

    Cathy McGowan already stated last Sunday that she will not be helping either party to form government.

  32. cornlegend

    Give her time, she voted with the LNP on 440 Bills and Legislation in the last Parliament
    How many of those do you really think worthy of support.
    She ruled out the Speakers job, but being from conservative territory, she will vote LNP or end up like Oakeshott or Windsor

  33. lawrencewinder

    It’s about time the public began realizing the disconnect between what the Liarbril’s proselytize and what they actually intend in fact. Their unstated adoption of the IPA’s medieval, free-market agenda which is then clouded in the three word slogans of half truths and emotive language has, at this election brought them into the light for once and they hate it! Their responses have been so wide of the reality that’s been served up to them that it only indicates just how lost and bereft of ideas for actually governing for the good of the nation and not the profits of Murdoch, Rinehart and Forrest, et al. this mongrel ruling rabble are.

  34. Athena

    I was amazed at the number of lefties who thought that Malcolm Turnbull knifing Tony Abbott was a good idea. If Tony had remained, I think we would have had an election result on Saturday night because so many people would have tired of the buffoon. Instead, there were people fooling themselves that Malcolm was a good guy and when it was pointed out to them that Malcolm was calmly following the same agenda as Tony Abbott, they said oh he has to toe the party line for now but it will be different after the election. Then he will be allowed to do more of what he wants to do. Sure, and I have some land in Antarctica that I’d like to sell to you. How long before Malcolm loses his leftie fan club?

  35. Anon E Mouse

    One saving the Libs could make is to the outrageously expensive welfare privatisation.
    Cut the cashless cards, that are run by a private enterprise at $6000pa per person.
    Cut the Job Networks and bring back it back under something like the old CES.
    Cut off shore detention privatisation and bring it back onshore etc…

    Labor cannot dismiss the issue that it is their traditional base that is hurting, and they need to forget trying to be the LibLite and return to their ideology.

    Time is running out before the next Federal Election I suspect.

  36. Athena

    What Anon E Mouse said.

  37. Florence nee Fedup

    I believe Turnbull is more worries about a speaker at this time than garnering support. Agree with both Katter and Shorten, Turnbull’s troubles are just beginning.

  38. 1petermcc

    Love that word “united” in there. It reminds me of Palmer United which fractured completely in 1 term.

  39. Alltherage

    So it took a constituent’s very obvious and basic Q, for Andrew Hastie to realise that “jobs and growth” was not a plan but just a hollow slogan with nothing in it for anyone?
    He really must be stupid, not to have worked this out for himself and reinforcing that, for admitting as much!

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