It’s as simple as ABC – Austerity, Budget, Conservative Catastrophe. Tories have a fixation that the lower echelons of society are eroding their power and wealth. How these ‘scroungers’ can be kept at bay is their excuse for austerity. Hence the budget which takes from the poor to give to the rich. But it will end in catastrophe for the Party which has allowed power to go to its head. Because the ordinary man and woman is not easily fooled.
So many more people have been politicised since the referendum, that the art of asking questions and seeking detailed answers online, in groups and from sources other than the trite Party statements, is now a universal, daily sport. And it is spreading rapidly to English voters becoming close to cricket and tennis in popularity.
While Westminster MPs can elect to say prayers every morning, they haven’t a prayer as long as they deny the basic tenets of every major religion. Most faiths call on their followers to ‘feed the hungry’ and ‘care for the widow.’
Instead this Government urges people to ‘go to the food bank’ and ‘get a job.’
But already the hungry are starting to grow their own food. And the widows are renting out their spare rooms to refugees to meet the bedroom tax.
The returns at Holyrood and then the local government elections will prove whether C is Conservative or Catastrophe. Right now, it looks as if they could be one and the same thing.
The counting starts in a few hours. There is all to win and all to lose – and as one candidate said at a hustings in Glasgow: ‘I don’t want to lose my deposit!’
There is no doubt whatsoever, this election will see major changes in the way the British electorate look at politics and political parties. The Parties, themselves, will feel the ire of the vast number of citizens who are disenchanted with the old system and want change – desperately want – a new way of doing government.
Those who’ve had their head buried in the sand or who have been living on the legends of last century politics and who didn’t see the seismic changes during the Referendum, will maybe waken up now.
Coalitions are the name of the game from here on. Whether its on an issue by issue basis – as seems likely – or a more formal partnership of unequals as with the previous Conservative/Lib-Dem arrangment, there has to be more give and take, cut and thrust, balance and counter-balance.
Words, alone, won’t win anything. Action has to be taken and seen to be taken, quickly, in today’s social media age.
Groupings of the left – such as TUSC – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – know where they are going. They are using this general election to test the water for their amoebic movement. But it has great potential to become the tail that wags the dog.
With only days to go before voting, there is no sign of weariness among the electorate or the party activists. The bank holiday weekend provided respite for some but most of the candidates were out and about at street stalls, canvassing, leafleting and talking up their case to anyone who’d listen.
There is hope that the impetus which got 84.6% of voters out for the Referendum, will enable a similarly high turnout for this general election – at least in Scotland. But there are signs that last September’s issue has galvanised people in other parts of the UK. Whether they love or hate the issue, they have taken note of the huge groundswell of support for investigating, discussing and debating politics anywhere. Stand at a bus stop, sit on a train, be in a shop, follow Twitter, listen to steam radio – whatever your choice, you’ll find the airwaves are alive to the sound of people parleying about Parliament.
The bets are on that the outcome will be a hung Parliament. However the numbers stack up, deals will have to be done. Let’s hope they are done in the best interests of the entire country – not just the narrow Party parameters and the vested interests of those at the top. Miracles DO happen, you just need to believe in them. One Church – which held a hustings recently – will hold an hour of prayer on Wednesday 6 May and invites anyone who believes in prayer to join them. ‘Many challenges face Great Britain, threats that could tear us apart, but God’s word speaks of healing and hope if we’d only turn to Him!’
If a week’s a long time in politics no doubt an hour is worthwhile in eternity. Whether prayer or party leaflets does it – the important thing is to get people out and voting. Postal votes are already in. So it’s turn up and be counted on Thursday 7 May 2015.
So many people wanted to attend Sunday’s hustings for Glasgow North candidates that the doors had to be closed when the maximum of 150 was reached in Hillhead Baptist Church building. Organised by the West End group of Churches – ACTS – and welcomed by Alison Spurway, the event was chaired by Professor John Curtice whose political commentaries are legendary. He posed the questions which had been submitted earlier.
Each candidate started by setting out their party’s stall. SNP’s Patrick Grady, said he wanted the energy of the Referendum to re-vitalise politics at Westminster. Opposed to austerity and spending on weapons of mass destruction, he said his party would be a strong voice for Glasgow. He said: ‘Glasgow North is a most idverse area of inequality and presents great challenges. The SNP would represet you with heart and passion.’
Simon Bone, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist (CON) candidate for Glasgow Central, stood in on behalf of his party colleague Lauren Anne Hankinson. He said there were three reasons people in the constituency should vote for her on May 7 – ‘We are part of the Union and that was demonstrated by the Referendum. We’re a young party with a growing membership and young leader, Ruth Davidson. And we’re the party for business – especially small and medium enterprises because we’d keep business tax low and opportunities up.’
GREEN Party candidate Dr Martin Bartos, said his party would put public transport back into public hands to keep profit for people not business. ‘We’re the party for people, the planet and peace,’ he added.
UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) Jamie Robertson said this was a most exciting year to have a general election. ‘The Scots always punch their weight in the UK,’ he said.
James Harrison, a candidate in Glasgow North West, was standing in for Scottish Liberal Democrat (LIB DEM)’s Jade Elizabeth O’Neil. He said his Party would promote fair taxes by cutting taxes, raising the tax threshold and introducing new green laws. ‘We’d fight for quality of healthcare and mental health,’ he said.
Ann McKechin, Scottish Labour Party (LAB) – who has held the seat for the past 10 years – said that had been a great privilege and she hoped the electorate would vote for her to continue. ‘I have a strong commitment and am passionate about many things including promoting a living wage, ending the obscenity of fees for industrial tribunals, the future of our young people and social justice.’ She also advocated an end to food banks and stated clearly that she wanted David Cameron out of office.
Angela McCormick of Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) said the same old voices of the main Westminster parties had ‘made life misery for thousands.’ She said a key election issue should be the plight of the people who had died in the Mediterranean. ‘The denial of action to save them and the racism of UKIP, should make you cry.’ She railed against ‘the rich getting richer,’ sanctions and the vast numbers who didn’t earn a living wage.
Russell Benson, introduced as the candidate for the ‘Cannabis is Better than Alcohol’ Party correct that, amid laughter, to say he was standing for ‘Cannibis Is Safer Than Alcohol.’ He posited that 1 million patients found cannabis an effective medical treatment and that they should not be criminalised. ‘We could save £300m before even considering tax,’ he said.
Asked their position on nuclear weapons, Ann McKechin (LAB) said she had opposed them since 2007 and voted against the renewal of Trident. Patrick Grady (SNP) said he joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament before he joined the SNP. ‘Weapons of mass destruction are a moral outrage. Especially when Ed Milliband said he wouldn’t press the button – yet any Government he might lead would cut help for the poor but spend on weapons. I’d vote against them at every opportunity if elected,’ he said. Simon Bone (CON) posed the question: ‘Why get rid of them when North Korea is working to have them and other countries will have them in a year to 18 months? Yes, they are a deterrent and the Americans pay for them.’ He clarified that the UK pays for the warheads. James Harrison said he wasn’t involved in negotiations so couldn’t say if the Lib Dems would ‘draw a red line’ on Trident reduction but he wanted to see a reduction in the weapons around the world. Martin Bartos (GREEN) admitted the topic depressed him and he was utterly opposed to nuclear weapons. ‘If they are a deterrent, then why not arm everyone in Glasgow with knives or guns? It isn’t rational. It doesn’t make the world safer by having nuclear weapons and calling them deterrents. They are as abhorrent as biological or chemical weapons. True leadership would have the moral authority to get rid of them if they don’t want to destroy the planet.’
Jamie Robertson said UKIP would support renewal but admitted the weapons were frightening. His comment: ‘They do support a lot of jobs in Scotland,’ was greeted with groans from the audience. Angela McCormick (TUSC) immediately responded to say the STUC has that week published a report which ‘knocked the myth of jobs on the head,’ and referred people to the STUC’s website.
On the question: ‘Is the financial deficit really important?’ Simon Bone quipped: ‘personally or Government?’ Then revealed that the debts from World War 1 had just been paid back, finally, three weeks before. ‘We’ve got to balance the books. If we borrow, we have to pay back.’ Martin Bartos pointed out that the way you run a nation’s economy is different from how you manage the money in your wallet. ‘When the banks failed, vast quantities of money were printed which went to the banks. But that did not help. We should let this model of austerity go and scrutinise the dogma that has fed it so long. It is better if we think along the lines of a farmer in difficulty needing resources to buy seeds to sow crops to have the hope of harvesting more in the future.’
James Harrison’s response was to end tax evasion. His party would not rectify things by cutting welfare as the Tory’s had done. Instead Lib Dems would grow the economy to grow more jobs. Ann McKechin said far too many people got too little return for their work. With 500,000 working people dependent on housing benefit, the economy was not working. Higher wages and spending on research and development were ways Labour would grow the economy. Russell Benson’s solution was to ‘take the economy out of the hands of gangsters and put into the hands of public bodies.’ Angela McCormick’s answer for TUSC was to highlight trade union protests on the cuts planned for the following week. She said: ‘This is not your deficit. It is the bankers’ deficit. They gambled and lost. It is a sick joke that we are asked to pay when the 1000 richest people in the UK own £500 billion. If the wealthy tax dodgers were taxed that would bring in £100bn.’ And she warned of bigger cuts to come.
Jamie Robertson’s line from UKIP was to come out of Europe. ‘That would save billions.’ Patrick Grady (SNP) also warned of ‘worse to come.’ But he pointed out that Finance Minister, John Swinney had balanced the books of the Scottish Government since 2007.
A questioner from the audience asked the candidates to justify the loss of thousands of further education lecturers’ jobs. Ann McKechin (LAB) said she’s lobbied Glasgow University to pay the living wage as they had some people on zero hours contracts. Labour’s policy was to stop the exploitation of people by forbidding zero hours contracts after 12 weeks. Patrick Grady said it was a free education that motivated him to get into politics. Jamie Robertson (UKIP) said it was ‘a tragedy’ that people were written off and his party would give people a full-time contract after 12 months.
Angela McCormick (TUSC) said the Tory party – supported by UKIP would be too ‘right wing’ and had already attacked the rights of workers. ‘I work in further education and know we need to start to do things differently.’
The next question was on the refugees dying in the Mediterranean. ‘These are Europe’s Boat People,’ said the questioner. ‘Shouldn’t we let them come and bring their assets?’ With Professor Curtis interjecting: ‘Should we take a share of these refugees?’
Answers ranged from Jamies Robertson confirming his party’s policy on more control of UK borders to prevent ‘unlimited immigration.’ Adding that he favoured the Australian points system. to James Harrison (LIB DEM) saying it was ‘a disgrace’ that Europe had reduced the budget (to save those drowning in the Mediterranean) at a time of great need.
Green Party’s Martin Bartos told how his Czech parents came to the UK in the 1980s and he, with them, worked to be good citizens here. ‘We believe immigration helps the economy and enriches culture.’ He also said that as a psychiatrist, he had treated people (asylum seekers) who had gone through torture. ‘But what was worse was seeing them put through unspeakable things in the immigration process. That is our shame.’
Going against his party’s policy, Conservative Simon Bone declared there wasn’t enough immigration. ‘We forget the numbers we export to Spain, for example. I’d encourage more immigration.’ Patrick Grady (SNP) supported more immigration. ‘We support the right of people to move and be global citizens. Scotland would be a welcome beacon and this would be to our well-being.’ Angela McCormick (TUSC) said the present government had made a conscious decision not to help the asylum seekers and so, in her view, they had murder on their conscience. ‘We take nowhere near the number of refugees we should . This is a humanitarian crisis.’
She added that Dungavel was ‘Scotland’s shame’ and should be closed down. She highlighted an STUC sponsored protest there on Saturday 30 May in solidarity with the asylum seekers detained in Dungavel who are on hunger strike because of the conditions and the unlimited time they are kept there. Russell Benson considered there was a link between people being trafficked, illegal immigration and the unregulated drugs market. ‘We have an archaic policy in the UK.’ Simon Bone (CON) said the UK had a moral duty to help: ‘We were partly responsible for the conflicts that caused people to migrate.’
On the local issue of the future of the North Kelvin Meadow – wild green space wanted by local people for children to play in and by developers to build flats – all candidates were against the commercial development of the space.
Asked by Professor Curtis what aspect of their Party’s policies they were least comfortable with, there was a wide range of answers. Patrick Grady (SNP) said he’d prefer an elected head of state instead of retaining the Queen, though he’d stand by the promise to abolish the House of Lords.
LIB DEM’s James Harrison admitted abandoning tuition fees had been a mistake and cost votes. GREEN’s Martin Bartos wished his party had a much cleverer way to get more people standing as candidates. Russell Benson said that Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol was a single issue party. ‘We could fight on more issues – for example safer alcohol. It can be used as a safe relaxant but it is also tearing communities apart.’
Conservative’s Simon Bone said he was a bit embarrassed by members with extreme views going to UKIP. On the bedroom tax, he didn’t think people should be punished for having an extra room. ‘We should be able to manage the situation better by allowing people to rent out the spare room and make some income.’
Ann McKechin (LAB) admitted it was ‘a very difficult question.’ She said she’d like an MP to interpret issues according to their own constituency and their own principles. ‘Some were opposed to the war in Iraq or to Trident and are prepared to take the consequences.’ Angela McCormick said she had no difficulty with anything in her party’s manifesto: ‘I helped write it!’ She added that the most uncomfortable thing for her was to ‘stand here’ at the hustings meeting.
UKIP candidate Jamie Robertson raised a laugh when he said with hesitation: ‘I’d need to read the manifesto (again) but…I support it all.’
In true Presbyterian tradition, all six election candidates for the Glasgow South seat had their say in Cathcart Trinity Church. Each was listened to with respect by the audience of almost 200 people. Three people who wanted to have a shouting match were politely, but firmly dealt with by the Chairperson, Rev Wilma Pearson and chose to leave.
The format worked well. First, every candidate stating his case, then questions were asked by the Chairperson from those submitted some time before. Each candidate gave his answer. And a final response concluded an informative and carefully timed evening.
Tom Harris who has represented the area for Labour since 2001 when the seat was Glasgow Cathcart, left no one in doubt about his concerns should the SNP ‘sweep the board.’ He said: ‘That is the elephant in the room. There can never be a coalition between Scottish Labour and the SNP. The only sure way to stop them is to vote Labour.’
Stewart McDonald, the SNP candidate was equally certain: ‘If you want business as usual at Westminster, then I’m not your guy. If you want to move forward and hold politicians accountable, you should support me.’
Ewan Hoyle, the Scottish Liberal Democrat representative said that the Liberal Democrats were the major ‘green’ party championing climate change at Westminster. ‘If you want green issues to be on the table at Westminster you should vote Liberal Democrat,’ he said.
Kyle Thornton of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party said his party was the only one with a plan to make things better for everyone in Britain. ‘Everyone who wants a job should get a job. There will be help for the young people into jobs or college or university or an apprenticeship. This is not another Referendum. If you want the country to keep together you should vote Conservative.’
Scottish Green Party candidate, Alastair Whitelaw said it wouldn’t be a career disaster for him, personally, if he didn’t get elected. But he urged people to consider the international perspective so that this country cultivated better relationships all over the world. ‘This is the only way to secure our future by being better at the so-called ‘soft’ relationships and being able to speak other languages. Peace, disarmament, food production and climate change are the things that need to be done better in the next 30 to 50 years if we want to make this world a safer place.’
Brian Smith of the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) warned: ‘If you vote tactically, you’ll still get austerity. Think carefully and vote for what you really belive in. Dream dreams, that way you can change society.’
Photograph shows BACK ROW from left: Alastair Whitelaw (Scottish Green Party), Brian Smith (TUSC), Ewan Hoyle (Scottish Lib Dems), Kyle Thornton (Scottish Conservative and Unionist). FRONT ROW from left: Stewart McDonald (SNP), Rev Wilma Pearson, Tom Harris (Scottish Labour Party)
While the General Election race started many moons ago, the real race now begins as the candidates’ lists closed today (Thursday 9 April 2015) Those with £500 to deposit and the correct number of signatures from valid people, are the 51 candidates in Glasgow vying for the seven seats. All the previous MPs are Labour and are, naturally, standing again: Anas Sarwar, Margaret Curran, Ann McKechin, Willie Bain, John Robertson, Tom Harris and Ian Davidson – who is standing as Labour and Co-operative Party.
But Glasgow voters registered a 53.5% YES return at the Referendum. And on that polling night the SNP team told the few Labour Party senior people in sight – ‘you’ll be OUT next time!’ But it will take till the last vote is counted after the polls close on Thursday 7 May 2015, before we know if the SNP succeeded. Their candidates are: Alison Thewliss, Natalie McGarry, Patrick Grady, Anne McLaughlin, Carol Monaghan, Stewart McDonald and Christopher Stephens.
No constituency is a two-horse race. All have at least six contestants with Glasgow Central having the most at nine.
Each of the seven constituencies has a Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate. They are: Simon Bone, Andy Morrison, Lauren Anne Hankinson, Annie Wells, Roger Lewis, Kyle Thornton and Gordon McCaskill. The Scottish Liberal Democrats also have seven candidates: Chris Young, Gary McLelland, Jade O’Neil, Eileen Baxendale, James Harrison, Ewan Hoyle and Isabel Nelson. And the Scottish Green Party has someone in each of the constituencies: Cass MacGregor, Kim Long, Martin Bartos, Zara Kitson, Moira Crawford, Alastair Whitelaw and Sean Templeton.
The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has fielded four candidates: Andrew Elliot, Angela McCormick, Jamie Cocozza and Brian Smith. And the same number of candidates has been presented by the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA) with: James Marris, Russell Benson, Geoff Johnson and Chris MacKenzie. Not to be outdone, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has presented: Stuart Maskell, Arthur Misty Thackeray, Jamie Robertson and Sarah Hemy.
Making up the remainder of the lists are two people from the Scottish Socialist Party: Liam McLaughlan and Bill Bonnar ; one from the Socialist Equality Party – Katie Rhodes and one from the Scottish Communist Party – Zoe Hennessy Streatfield.
All it needs now is for the 75% who turned out to cast their vote in the Referendum to turn out again – and to encourage the remaining 25% who didn’t vote then – to make their mark this time. People have till Monday 20 April to register to vote. A lot of people could find they are not registered so it is worth checking beforehand. Go to: GOV.UK: Register online for online registration.
Thursday 9 April 2015
Today nominations closed for candidates for the UK Parliamentary Election. In Glasgow, a total of 51 people are now contesting seats in the city’s seven Parliamentary constituencies. All the seats were held by Labour MPs (names in bold below)
In the Referendum last year, 53.5% of Glasgow’s voters backed independence. The turnout – at 75% – was the lowest in Scotland.
Voting for the General Election takes place on 7 May 2015. Here is the list of candidates:
Simon Robert Bone, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Andrew Elliot, Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Cass MacGregor, Scottish Green Party
James Marris, Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
Stuart Maskell, UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Katie Rhodes, Socialist Equality Party
Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour Party
Alison Thewliss, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Chris Young, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Margaret Patricia Curran, Scottish Labour Party
Kim Long, Scottish Green Party
Natalie McGarry, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Liam McLaughlan, Scottish Socialist Party
Gary McLelland, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Andy Morrison, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Arthur Misty Thackeray, UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Martin Bartos, Scottish Green Party
Russell Benson, Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
Patrick Grady, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Lauren Anne Hankinson, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Angela McCormick, Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Ann McKechin, Scottish Labour Party
Jade Elizabeth O’Neil, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Jamie Robertson, UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Glasgow North East
Willie Bain, Scottish Labour Party
Eileen Janet Gladys Baxendale, Scottish Liberal Democrat
Jamie Cocozza, Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Geoff Johnson, Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
Zara Kitson, Scottish Green Party
Anne McLaughlin, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Glasgow North West
Moira Ann Crawford, Scottish Green Party
James Wallace Harrison, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Roger Lewis, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Chris MacKenzie, Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
Carol Monaghan, Scottish National Party (SNP)
John Robertson, Scottish Labour Party
Zoe Hennessy Streatfield, Scottish Communist Party
Tom Harris, Scottish Labour Party
Ewan Hoyle, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Stewart McDonald, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Brian Smith, Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Kyle Alan Kerr Thornton, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Alastair Whitelaw, Scottish Green Party
Glasgow South West
Bill Bonnar, Scottish Socialist Party
Ian Davidson, Labour and Co-operative Party
Sarah Hemy, UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Gordon Alexander McCaskill, Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Isabel Nelson, Scottish Liberal Democrats
Christopher Stephens, Scottish National Party (SNP)
Sean Templeton, Scottish Green Party
Party conferences have a way of sweeping aside everything except what that party wants to talk about. But the populace in Scotland is still talking about the Referendum and the aftermath. Where do we go now? What do we do now? Those are the questions on many people’s lips and minds. There are no clear answers and no clear pathways to the future. That is unknown territory. Each Political party has its own route mapped out. And everyone knows the journey will be full of dangers from all sides. But there is no escaping the fact – we are all on that journey now.
Those who’ve been in Guides or Scouts will have the assurance of map reading skills, ability to use a compass, how to light a fire in the wilderness and eat, free, from the hedgerow. Party people have some, localised, knowledge of survival techniques. But street fighters – especially urban street fighters – usually need all those abilities and more to reach their promised land.
This is where people of faith have a role to play. Prayer and the power of prayer have an eternal influence over actions. Scotland was founded on Godly principles – love one another, do not kill, feed the poor. There are signs that those principles and beliefs are being re-awakened along with the sure knowledge that many, many, many more people are thinking about what they can do, individually and collectively, to change the things that are unsatisfactory.
As the number of ballot papers was first checked, interested parties were able to meet and chat and compare notes of experiences during the canvassing processes.
Glasgow City Councillor Alison Thewliss brought baby Kirsty to the count and was determined to see the night through at the Emirates Arena. ‘But I’m nervous about the outcome,’ she admitted. Richie Venton of the Scottish Socialist Party said he was delighted at the number of people who had been ‘educated,’ during the campaign. ‘This was mass political education. That cannot be stripped away or reversed now. These people will make demands and we’ll have a different kind of Scotland either way the vote turns out.’
Labour Party member Ghulam Nabi, a Southsider who writes for a London based Asian paper, was non-committal about the outcome. ‘We’ll need to wait and see.’ Joe McCauley one of the Labour team leaders said: ‘We’ve had three sessions a day for two and a half years of solid slog. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the people who’ve done this work. What is really pleasing is the number of new people who have joined and who have been inspired. We’ll keep the momentum going and show that politics really does matter.
Political consultant and African Caribbean expert, Graham Campbell reported with pride how by 11am on Thursday 18 September, the number of voters in Alexandra Parade where he was based, had equalled the number who cast their votes at the last Scottish Government election. ‘By 5pm 60% of the electorate had voted and it was 70% at 9pm. We’re confident, even in a staunch Unionist area like Dennistoun, that the vast majority were voting YES.’ He too commented on the ‘poll tax refugees’ who had never voted since that debacle and young people who had become interested in important local issues simply because of the referendum campaign.
At the Emirates Arena in Glasgow’s East End the count started for the historic referendum with boxes from Shettleston coming in minutes after the polls closed at 10pm. They were followed quickly by other districts. Soon the hum of activity as papers were counted was at every one of the eight district areas.
Some YES team members and SNP Councillors said they were ‘nervous’ but each was quick to add they thought on the streets where they’d been canvassing ceaselessly for two years, the answer was YES.