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Another weekend… another poll! Red C in the Sunday Business Post have no good news for Fianna Fáil… April 26, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, European Union, Irish Politics, Uncategorized.
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Yep, it’s the Red C Sunday Business Post poll, the details of which aren’t posted on the SBP site until late this afternoon.

And it’s not good reading for Fianna Fáil now only weeks away from meeting the electorate. FF has dropped five points to 23%. Fine Gael has gone up two to 33% and Labour is up two to 19%.

So, not quite a red dawn then for the left. Even though Sinn Féin have clawed an extra percentage point to their support to 8% and the Greens, as ever in defiance of the laws of political gravity remain on 7%. Let’s be generous. Let’s say that we can combine those figures on the left into a bloc. The results are – remarkably – that the ‘left’ in its broadest definition actually has 34%, just ahead of FG and well ahead of Fianna Fáil. Indeed think about it. Only four points separate FF and Labour. Just four.

Okay. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this is just a poll and a General Election, the whinging of a certain former Junior Minister apart (and wasn’t it entertaining to see how Stephen Collins tried to tangentially imply that essentially fatuous comments about the public sector were in some part responsible for his downfall – and no mention of the Junior Minister’s own remarkable employment scheme for the public sector either), ain’t going to happen any time soon. Although. Although. It does look as if medium term damage has been done to Fianna Fáil in terms of perceptions of its competence.

Good news too for Enda Kenny. His position as leader of Fine Gael seems all but assured for the next while.

And what of Labour? Well, 19% isn’t bad at all. But it isn’t Spring Tide territory. So a lot more to do.

As regards the European Elections Libertas are on 2%. No doubt a result of the elites attempting to stifle a genuinely new and radical voice (or is it voices… we await the policy document). As RTÉ says this:

…leaves the party with a lot of work to do in the next six weeks.

No doubt, though, the Chairman has contingency plans…

It’s the detail on the other parties which is particularly interesting. The Green Party is up 3% on 2004 at 7%. Sinn Féin is down 3% at 8%. Independents are down 7% from 17%. Fine Gael are up 4% at 32%, Fianna Fáil improve very slightly on their party support at 25% down from 42%. And Labour is doing well up 6% at 17%. Still time left for that to change, but perhaps not substantially. Incidentally worth noting an intriguing interchangeability in the FF/Labour vote with Labour slightly behind on the Europeans in it’s national poll share 17% as against 19% and Fianna Fáil slightly ahead by… two percentage points – 25% as against 23%. Which would tentatively suggest that the FF vote is indeed overlapping with the Labour vote.

And Lisbon itself? A 2:1 majority in favour with only 14% undecided.

Meanwhile, note the sort of voices that are epitomised by the following letter in the Irish Times on Friday…

Madam, – My wife and I have left Ireland and moved to London – not because I couldn’t get work (we had a good salary between us – both with degrees and in our early 30s), but because we were not prepared to struggle for the rest of our (comparative) youth under a punishing tax regime while public services collapsed and the public sector remained untouched. I am old enough to remember most of the 1980s and I do not want to bring my children up in the same horrendous economic environment.

Ireland’s economic situation is being closely watched here and no one understands why the public sector is immune. Here in the UK the public sector faces job cuts when the economy declines – just like the private sector.

I’ll be back to Ireland when the place sorts itself out, although I’m not hopeful – the basic lesson that you can’t tax your way out of a recession has simply not been learned.

We need a new Thatcherite political figure to stand up to the unions and the cossetted sections of the Irish economy. The view from here is that this person is coming – and his name is the IMF. – Yours, etc,

“Punishing tax regime”? “Public service collapsing”? “Public sector untouched”?

“Thatcherite political figure”…

Such cognitive dissonance in one so (comparitively) young. And no sense that to have good public services they might just have to be paid by our still far from ‘punishing’ tax regime.

And as ever the call for salvation in the shape of someone who would inflict ‘pain’… But not, as can be seen, on them.

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Comments»

1. sonofstan - April 26, 2009

“Punishing tax regime?”

And he’s writing from a country where the most right wing ‘left’ government ever has just introduced a top rate of IT at 50% – 2 higher than here…….

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2. Garibaldy - April 26, 2009

Public services haven’t quite collapsed in the UK yet. Though when he gets Cameron in power, he can expect to be able to watch such a thing happen live and in colour. Gone is the Tory rhetoric about not cutting taxes, about protecting services etc that Cameron first spouted. The re-emergence of George Osbourne after his embarassing difficulties last year heralds this more nakedly Thatcherite face of the supposedly new Conservatives. I haven’t noticed any public sector workers in the UK be hit the way the Irish ones have either.

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3. EWI - April 26, 2009

Re: our Mr. Brett. LinkedIn has an Irish ‘Shane Brett’ who is “Assistant Vice President at Daiwa Securities at Daiwa Securities”:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/5/568/bbb

Googling shows Daiwa Securities to be an investment bank (surprise!) with offices in both Dublin and London:

http://www.daiwasmbc.co.uk/

I can say that, personally, it would be a great disappointment to me if this martyr for the free market had merely changed jobs within the same company.

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4. Craig - April 26, 2009

<>

More likely a result of Ganley’s hubris-laden plans to set up a branch of Libertas in every EU country (ignoring existing local political networks and the expensive financing of such moves) when he should be concentrating his efforts on Ireland alone.

I happen to support Libertas, and indeed most of the anti-Lisbon movements (including those of the Left), but Ganley is going about it all wrong, and those who are against Lisbon should call him out on it.

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5. Craig - April 26, 2009

p.s. I was referring to your quote: “No doubt a result of the elites attempting to stifle a genuinely new and radical voice (or is it voices… we await the policy document).”

For some reason it got cut out when I posted the above comment.

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6. jc - April 26, 2009

“Not quite Spring Tide” — Actually, Labour received 19.3% in the 1992 election, so 19% would be very much a performance of the same order. Of course, there is a tendency for votes to go home to the civil war parties on election day, so Labour probably need 3 or 4% more in the polls to actually get 19% on election day. As the tax increases have their cumulative effect over time and people starting eating into their savings to pay day-to-day bills, there should be a few more percentage points in it for Labour. Notwithstanding dreams of a combined “left”, I would think that Green support is fairly soft and is where labour should go fishing if they want to add those crucial second seats they will need in Dublin if they are every going to get to the forty-odd seats they will need to get an equal share in the spoils of government and a shot at having the first Labour Taoiseach. Hard to see there being many more voters that can be separated from FF on these numbers.

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7. WorldbyStorm - April 26, 2009

jc, my bad not to check the figures. You’re right. 19% would be very very good for Labour if it converted to that on the day.

Craig… aren’t you a WP supporter? I take your point about Ganley spreading too far, but… one could also argue that without the supposed pan-EU aspect to Libertas it’s just another euro-sceptic group…this time of the socially conservative right.

That’s amazing digging EWI. I didn’t think to look.

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8. EWI - April 26, 2009

That’s amazing digging EWI. I didn’t think to look.

What can I say? It pays to Google, WbS – these guys rarely appear out of thin air (and if we had an Irish equivalent to the publicly-available lists of political donations in the US, then we might find out more).

I believe that it’s actually him – the age range in the article matches the one deducible from his LinkedIn profile.

I happen to support Libertas, and indeed most of the anti-Lisbon movements

I wonder – how do you reconcile such blanket support with the radically different motivations underlying the organisations you’ve lumped together (say, between Libertas and the Provos)?

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9. Paddy Matthews - April 26, 2009

The Creepy Party had a large billboard up for their Ireland East candidate (same slogan, artwork, etc, as for Simons’ Dublin billboards) on the Dublin Road in Longford town today.

Anyone want to make a stab at guessing the problem here?

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10. Fergal - April 26, 2009

Hi WbS,
Let’s be even more generous,surely around 4% of the 10% for the Independents could be classified as a left vote?Joe Higgins and the SP,Finian McGrath,Séamus Healy, the Gregory group,Declan Bree,WP,SWP.This would bring your left bloc up to 38%

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11. WorldbyStorm - April 26, 2009

Well, that’s true. They won’t all function together but it does point to a shift towards even mildly left wing policies amongst a broad mass of the population.

Go on Paddy… what piece of genius have they come out with now?

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12. sonofstan - April 26, 2009

It’s worth pointing to a leftward trend in voting intentions – and perhaps even more worth noting the speeding up of the gradual but irreversible decline in ‘civil war’ politics that has occurred over the past few decades. FF/FG have gotten between 64-69% of the vote in the 4 elections since ’93: before that, they always broke 80%: on the present polls, they’ll be pushed to break 60%, and it’s possible that in Dublin the combined right- wing parties might garner less than half the votes cast – they were between 50-55% in most of the central constituencies in ’07, and much of that was the FF component which will suffer most in Dublin, I think, without the Bertie effect.

I’ve said before that i think FF are actually more vulnerable than FG: a wipe out in the capital, no up and coming youngsters (the cabinet is young-ish sure, but FG appear to have the next generation again). and a rural and aging vote base could lead to third party status quite soon; too big to disappear, and probably saved by PR from UK liberal style irrelevance, but far from ‘a natural party of government’

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13. EWI - April 26, 2009

(the cabinet is young-ish sure, but FG appear to have the next generation again)

The majority of whom are much farther to the right than than the FG of Garret Fitgerald’s time (I’ve commented before about the numbers of YFG who were in the Freedom Institute, not a promising sign for the future).

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14. sonofstan - April 26, 2009

Yes, I know – FG (younger part) seem to have decided to stake out a clear ideological ground for themselves, which a) should make it difficult for them to share power with lab (and, obviously, vice versa), and b) should suggest to the left that they do the same and start defining themselves as clearly opposed to this; (and squeeze FF in the process)

Though perhaps a longer game strategy for FG and Lab might be to try and share power for two – or even three – terms: FF out of power for a decade would be a strange animal indeed! – and, assuming the elephant was dead or wounded, they could set about separately mopping up the rump vote….

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15. CL - April 26, 2009

-America ranks 22nd out of 23 high-income countries in public social outlays as a percent of national income (ahead only of Ireland), for health, pensions, income support, and other social services-Jeffrey Sachs, Scientific American, April 09
Ireland ranks last in public social expenditure and is in an economic depression, and yet the two right-wing parties have the support of 56% of the electorate. The commentariat and academic economists are almost unanimous in calling for further cuts in these social expenditures.
WTF?

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16. Crocodile - April 26, 2009

And the Irish right is becoming more confident and less apologetic in its stridency. This morning, while browsing the radio talk shows, I heard calls for the public service to be subject to massive pay cuts and sackings ‘before someone has to come in and do it for us’; for the ’rounding up’ and internment without trial of suspected Limerick gang members ‘and to hell with civil liberties’; for social welfare payments to be denied to anyone less than five years in the country.
It’s been commented on before here, but a fascinating aspect of the implosion of free market economics is that it appears to have empowered and encouraged not the left, but the right.

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17. WorldbyStorm - April 26, 2009

It’s mad, I really can’t understand it other than in the context that the left here is so weak on every axis that the right, even when clearly and utterly wrong as in the aftermath of the past eight years, is simply unable (and in some instances) unwilling to generate a counter narrative and run with it.

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18. Fergal - April 26, 2009

CL,Crocodile+WbS,
It feels like the right have achieved what Gramsci called “cultural hegemony”.That’s why mainstream media is so uninteresting.I really do think that the left,at grassroots level,is fighting back.We’ve witnessed one of the most militant surges in labour in recent decades eg Waterford Crystal,SR Technics,Visteon,De Beers etc.This is very encouraging and empowering.WbS-perhaps the “counter narrative” is here but just needs to be fine tuned,again we’re back to Gramsci and his ideas of “civil society” Participants in this counter narrative could be our relatively large TU membership rates,an angry workforce,those disgusted at the bankers and speculators,those hit by the cutbacks,the unemployed and so on

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19. WorldbyStorm - April 26, 2009

I’d completely agree with you Fergal. I think there is a hegemonic aspect to this. What’s amazing is, though, that we have two strands… an outrider explicitly Thatcherite grouping mainly in the media (Rafter/Collins, elements in FG, the former PDs, some FFers, such as McGuinness et al who by the way are pretty incoherent ideologically, it seems to be broadly a badge of pride rather than a clearly thought out ideological approach) and then we have a broader but less explicitly Thatcherite albeit still centre-right centre ground including most of FF, large tranches of FG and even some aspects of the left who have largely but not entirely bought into the outrider groups thoughts so they’ve been mainstreamed. Which means that FF can play both sides of the equation as with having McGuinness as a junior minister and then criticising him for being too anti-public sector. In a way the centre ground has the last residual aspects of the supposed ‘pragmatism’ of FF. And that has to take cogniscence of the public sector/TU membership, etc, etc in a way that the outriders who largely represent no-one but themselves don’t. Which dovetails with your thoughts above.

And beyond that, what’s left?

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20. Crocodile - April 26, 2009

The concentration of right-wing commentary in our media is also down to the small size of the commentariat. Consider, for example, that Matt Cooper, Damian Kiberd and Clare Byrne – to neame 3 that spring to mind – all have network news/talk shows; all have newspaper columns that show them to be firmly to the right on economic issues.
A reason I’m less optimistic than Fergal is that I see little evidence of the 18-35 generation fighting back. It seems to me that that they have largely accepted the ‘Ireland inc’, pro-business analysis and are prepared to accept what is being done to them as some sort of unavoidable change in the economic weather, rather than the results of calculated decisions by those more powerful and greedier than they are.

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21. sonofstan - April 26, 2009

Fergal and WBS,

Absolutely: thing is this ‘consensus’ is not – of course, since that is what hegemony does – remotely representative. And it’s dangerous, because by trying to de-politicise the debate – grounding arguments in economic ‘common sense’ calls for a national government – it casts those who would resist outside politics – since politics is, according to this hegemony, simply the application of stuff you learn in business school; management according to givens, rather than the transformation of the ‘given’.

It’s not just ‘the left’ that is marginalised by this coercive consensus: there is a huge constituency in this country of the older, largely rural poor, entirely not at home in this country now: the Dana/ Kathy Sinnott voters, and there for Libertas, maybe? FF used to know how to talk to such people, but FF itself has – finally – shed the outsider part of its insider/ outsider persona; they are as incapable of seeing the real country as the ‘D4 liberal’ strawman they used to love to present as their antimony.

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22. Fergal - April 26, 2009

sonofstan,
“coercive consensus” I like that!There’s a opinion poll question you’ll never read of in the Sindo-Do you feel entirely at home in this country?
Crocodile,there is some evidence of student agitation over future fees,but I think a lot of young people have internalised the “pro business” analysis as you say yourself but I have a hunch and that’s all it is that such apathy will change….where will the 18-35 age group emigrate to?
WbS,and beyond that is… raising consciousness!

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23. Garibaldy - April 26, 2009

Glad to see we’re back to Gramsci. I look forward then to everyone joining the modern prince – i.e. the vanguard party of the working class – in order to build the hegemony of the fundamental (i.e. revolutionary) class over the rest of society. The type of hegemony exercised by the Jacobins as the representatives of the revolutionary bourgeoisie over the French sans-culottes and peasantry, and by the Bolsheviks as the representatives of the Russian proletariat over its peasantry. Because that is what he was talking about when he spoke about hegemony, not the dominant ideas of bourgeois society. Despite what the people (mainly dilettantes) who picked him up in the 1970s to justify their own shifts away from orthodox Marxism-Leninism seemed to think.

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CL - April 27, 2009

At a time when even the Financial Times is questioning economics orthodoxy Irish academic economists and their mindless boosters in the media think it is carved in stone and handed down from on high.
“…the criteria are the self-referential criteria of modern academic life. The greatest compliment you can now pay an economic argument is to say it is rigorous. Today’s macroeconomic models are certainly that.
But policymakers and the public at large are, rightly, not interested in whether models are rigorous. They are interested in whether the models are useful and illuminating – and these rigorous models do not score well here.” John Kay, Financial Times, April 21 09

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24. WorldbyStorm - April 27, 2009

I don’t think there is the contradiction you appear to see in Gramsci’s thoughts between what is being said here and the idea he accepted that a party was the way forward Garibaldy. Either way he used the idea of hegemony as something that could be / was used by either / both workers and bourgeoise society which seems appropriate given the analyses above.

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25. Fergal - April 27, 2009

Garibaldy,
Just because you refer to a thinker doesn’t mean you agree with everything he wrote.Of his work “cultural hegemony” and his emphasis in “civil society” remain highly relevant today,cf WbS’s above point(25).I haven’t the slighest interest in vanguard parties or the like!

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26. Joe - April 27, 2009

I haven’t read Gramsci but I have attended a couple of talks about his ideas and read a little about them. It appears that, like Marx, his work is fertile ground for interpretation.
I remember an education meeting of the WP in Dublin North East in the late eighties at which Oliver Donahue was the guest speaker. He was talking, very impressively, about how we could get our message out to the people. And he mentioned Gramsci, I think in terms of trying to achieve hegemony in civil society for socialist ideas and the socialist message.
I also recall that around the time Harris et al came out with their “Necessity for Social Democracy”, a few younger WP members were arguing for a “third way” based around Gramsci’s writings. They put it out, iirc, over two editions of Making Sense. Anyone got those issues? Would be good stuff for the Archive.
Finally, I recall Donahue addressing the WP Ard Fheis that was the end of the Harris/Smullen faction. He said “The treatment of Eamon Smullen will haunt this party.”
End of reminiscence.

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27. WorldbyStorm - April 27, 2009

Yeah, I want to be clear, although Gramsci clearly did believe in the concept of the M-L vanguard party it’s not a stretch to see his thoughts useful as a methodological tool that we can use to understand both class relations and the means by which one class can impose its domination and another can combat that. I’m dubious about the ability of vanguard parties to deal with most political situations beyond the very specific – for instance one of the glaring aspects of the present is how peripheral the further left is in this current crisis of capitalism (which is not to say they’ve always been or always will be peripheral). One could reasonably ask ‘if not now when?’. But one could also point to important bulwark aspects of such parties against fascism etc… and the possibility at some point they would be pivotal. Anyhow, that’s a whole different set of discussions.

I don’t think I was at that meeting Joe. It sounds good… one thing about the WP was the ability to present a core revolutionary message in language that connected with working people. I haven’t seen that trick repeated in this state since. Now that was hegemonic… Never needed as much as today… etc, etc.

Wasn’t that doc you refer to around the third way group (a position I’d have supported) very similar to that expressed by Colm Breathnach and available in the Left Archive here?

https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/the-left-archive-document-submitted-to-the-debate-on-the-constitution-of-the-workers-party-1990/

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28. Garibaldy - April 28, 2009

Feargal,

My point is that Gramsci never wrote what you think he did. What in fact happened was that people abandoning traditional means and goals of communist struggle misrepresented his views to further their own agenda. WBS may quite rightly question how those with a vanguard view of things are getting on, but how are the three parties most associated with the interpretation of Gramsci offered above getting on? One has disbanded, one collapsed in disarray, and one is in profound retreat.

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29. Joe - April 28, 2009

“I don’t think I was at that meeting Joe.”
Yes I noted that on your file at the time WBS!
It was in a house in Bayside and iirc Ireland were playing an important soccer international on the same night. Don’t think that would have been your reason for not attending but it meant it was a fairly select bunch who turned up.
As to whether the document in the Archive from Colm B was much different to the articles in Making Sense, I’ve no idea.

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30. Craig - April 29, 2009

Sorry about the delay in replying WBS.

“Craig… aren’t you a WP supporter?”

I no longer support the Workers Party, or indeed any left-wing party as a rule – my worldview has changed and I just see things differently now. That said, when it comes to the EU and European integration I would still largely agree with the likes of SF, the WP, SP etc. and hence support their campaigns against Lisbon.

“one could also argue that without the supposed pan-EU aspect to Libertas it’s just another euro-sceptic group…this time of the socially conservative right.”

I would not have a problem with that, as I am now one of those socially conservative pseudo-reactionary ogres myself, but my main point of agreement with Libertas is its opposition to Lisbon. I actually disagree with the economic perspective of Ganley’s group – too “liberal” and business-oriented for my liking.

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31. WorldbyStorm - April 29, 2009

Again, more than fair enough. I doubt you’re an ogre… 😉

What I do have a problem with (and this isn’t with you) is that Libertas hasn’t promoted itself as such hitherto. Indeed we still don’t have their policy platform. But they’re campaigning as such. That’s a pretty huge disconnect in my book.

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32. A Thatcherite responds… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - May 1, 2009

[…] May 1, 2009 Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics. trackback Last week I referenced a letter writer [you have to scroll almost to the end] in the Irish Times who had skipped the country to the […]

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33. Fergal - May 1, 2009

Garibaldy,
Sorry for the delay in writing.I refer you back to WbS and his reference to a “methodological tool” and Joe’s reference to different interpretations .I read him around twenty years ago the whole leadership/Leninist /vanguard thing left me cold.What stood out was cultural hegemony and the relevance of civil society.I could well be wrong but as a left-libertarian being wrong doesn’t bother in the least,as there’s no orthodoxy to follow!Hope you have a great Mayday!

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34. Garibaldy - May 1, 2009

We can agree to cordially disagree on whether Gramsci ever actually argued in the terms you suggested. Hope you have great May Day too.

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