Features

The fight to save the Gladstone Arms is a battle for the soul of London

29 August 2015

9:00 AM

29 August 2015

9:00 AM

Lant Street would be easy to miss, if you weren’t looking for it. Charles Dickens lodged on Lant Street as a child, during his father’s stay in Marshalsea debtors’ prison nearby. The Gladstone Arms is about halfway down, doors open to the narrow street on a warm afternoon in August.

Inside, an old man nurses a pint in late summer light that falls through mullioned windows. The grain of the oak floors has a dark patina of London grime. There is nothing spiffed-up about the place. But it’s beautiful, and in decent nick. A black and white cat sits on the piano.

This tiny place is also a live music venue, and even has an in-house label for bands that play there regularly. CDs are for sale at the bar. The Gladstone also sells Pieminister pies, from a company based in Bristol. From about 7 p.m., even on a Monday in August, it starts filling with young ‘creatives’ and innovators: a demographic contemporary politicians wax lyrical about.

So the Gladstone Arms supports small businesses (‘the lifeblood of the economy’, according to those same politicians), employs local people, and serves the local community. And it’s thriving. Unfortunately, it now looks doomed.

Last year, the site and the pub that has stood there since the Victorian era were acquired by a holding company based in the Cayman Islands, called Sartoria. Another firm set up last year in the Isle of Man to specialise in the London residential market provides the bridging finance until a decision on the site is made. The parent company is based in Luxembourg.


Sartoria has applied for planning permission to demolish the pub and erect a ten-storey building with nine storeys of luxury flats (‘with panoramic views’) above a brand-new pub on the ground floor. Around the corner on Marshalsea Road, where once the prison stood, a studio flat is on the market for £425,000. These new flats will sell for far more.

The economics are simple and if, as looks likely, Sartoria achieves planning permission, it will be all up with the Gladstone Arms. Of course the fate of one pub is immaterial. But 3,000 London pubs have closed in recent years. Just a stone’s throw from the Gladstone, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London’s most celebrated gay pub, is under threat. It has been acquired by a group of Austrian property developers, who have given no guarantees for its survival.

Some say this is a good thing, and the latest wave of foreign money is bringing prosperity, development and badly needed new flats and housing. This indeed has been the position of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London.

There is another point of view. London is now undergoing the same process of moral and physical destruction that many British cities underwent in the 1960s, when their centres were ripped out by property developers. Think of Birmingham.

The Gladstone thrives. It is at the heart of a community. Do we really want an anonymous property group, with links to the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man and Luxembourg, to ruin it?

Chris Kendall is one of those who’s determined to save ‘the Glad’. His great-grandmother lived in Lant Street, and according to family tradition his great-grandfather worked in the brewery across the road from the pub. Chris recognises that of course things change, old gives way to new, and it is impossible to preserve everything. But he adds that London is being plundered and pillaged and ‘meanwhile, local communities are dying’.

Chris and his family are far-flung now: none of them lives in Southwark, but they still meet up at the Gladstone because of the stories that link them to it. The family anecdotes handed down to children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren become over time part of the fabric of our nation, the tiny details in a great tapestry.

On his recent trip to the Far East, the Prime Minister vowed to do something — though who knows what and it’s far too late, anyway — about the foreign companies buying up swaths of London and its history. If only he could, because it’s awfully hard for communities to fight them and their untold wealth. The fight to save the Gladstone Arms is a small part of a much bigger fight: to save the life and soul of London, and to uphold values greater and more enduring than money.

Peter Oborne is an associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • Hereford Cow

    The Finborough Theatre – pub theatre restaurant, all thriving – is facing a similar problem. Flats proposed for upstairs directly over the stage – you can imagine how well they will mix. And Royal Vauxhall’s problem is just a tiny part of a total slaughter of gay venues – 100 or more (of 200ish) gone in the last few years. Shoreditch’s George & Dragon being the latest. Something quite systematic is going on here…. Victorian pubs have good locations, often spacious plots, leasehold occupiers prepared to be bought out or whose leases don’t offer much protection. What’s the mayor’s planning policy? Does he want streetscapes to change so much? Is everything to be residential because its value trumps all else? Questions….

    • Sunshine Sux

      Islamic countries do not have pubs.

      • Darnell Jackson

        Rubbish – all over the place in Malaysia

        • Sunshine Sux

          Wow, you’re right. Muslim countries are famous for their pub & wine bar culture..

          • Darnell Jackson

            Not what you stated though, is it?

          • Sunshine Sux

            Ok then, you found 1 out of 58 Muslim countries, that have a pubs in tourist areas. Here’s a medal.

          • Darnell Jackson

            Thanks

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Malaysia’s not a bad option, especially the Chinese run island of Penang. Bacon and eggs, no problem. And the neighbouring island of Langkawi is duty-free. Check the Muslim-run supermarkets for the best deals. And domestic flights are a steal.
          Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Malaysia Airlines …

          • Darnell Jackson

            Great advice, many thanks

            Next time I travel to Asia will be for as long as possible with many internal flights

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Try AirAsia, it’s far from the only option, but watch out for the add-ons.
            Three-month visa on arrival. If you have to do a visa run, you’re spoilt for choice. Keep in mind you have to be out of the country for at least three days. Some years ago on a visit to Sabah, I got a three month extension on returning to West Malaysia. Myanmar, Vietnam and China (for Brits) require an embassy issued visa.
            If we do chance to meet, you will notify the Mole that I’m Caucasian Brit and not Japanese. He’s spent the last decade and more telling me that I’m Japanese, while the Spectator to their eternal shame, provide a forum to this sad, deluded mental defective.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • Darnell Jackson

            It would be good to meet Jack, who knows what the future holds

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            “Visa-runs” … what a total saddo you are!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Out of your league, right Jock.
            So where will you be wintering this year?

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            When we all know that you live with Mum and Dad somewhere in Japan … you and your SE Asia “high-life” … dream on, mate!

      • Sean L

        Of course there are bars and pubs in Islamic countries. Many of them even produce their own wine and/or beer. Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon are just a few I can think of. I’m sure there’ll be others. Gambia’s an Islamic country I know absolutely heaving with bars and clubs.

        • Sunshine Sux

          I guess this must be that famous ‘tiny minority’ of stuff we keep hearing about.

      • davidshort10

        Do you mean Muslim countries or Islamic countries? Muslim countries do not have pubs as such but they have bars and hotels serving booze, although not outside unless it’s private property. Much of east London will not have pubs either as areas are declared Islamic.

    • MrRexRedux

      Islam doesn’t like gays so there you have the reason why the gay venues are disappearing.

  • Ken

    Very well said: Johnson’s planning policies have been disastrous, accelerating the transformation of much of London into a city focussed on the demands of global investors, with little regard for communities and local identity.

    • Newgrubstreet

      I never have understood how transforming swathes of traditional London into deracinated investment vehicles for the global super-rich is supposed to benefit either Londoners or Britain as a whole.

      • Peter Hulse

        But it makes lots of money. Worship of money is all the rage among atheist Tories these days.

        • justejudexultionis

          The money-worshipping scum who run our society these days cannot even begin to understand the massive and irreparable damage that the rejection of Christianity has done to our culture, morals and society.

          • Greg Tingey

            Ah as opposed to the virtues of burning witches & making sure women are subservient, you mean?

          • We’re still doing that today, Greg. You don’t really think the majority of these ‘historic abuse’ cases are genuine, do you? We hunt witches on a much bigger scale than they ever did in the past.

          • Terry Field

            Value-free, homosexual-equality, gross-ill-taste; unmade-beds; sharks in alcohol, sliced-cows behind glass.
            Makes Caligula’s Golden Palace seem desirable.

          • ì want to^ guíde you to amazíng online work opportunity.. 3-5 h of work a day.. payment at the end of each week.. performance dependíng bonuses…earnings of six to nine thousand dollars /month – merely few hours of your free time, a computer, most elementary familiarìty wìth www and trusted web-connection is what is needed…learn more by headìng to my page

          • Terry Field

            Place it up your fundament, light the blue touch paper and decorate the walls.

        • Alex

          You should have seen the Church when Christianity was big!

          • Peter Hulse

            True enough. I suppose the moral is that whichever religion is on top will think that money is jolly important. it’s just that atheists tend to call the shots these days (note the disbelief when Tim Farron was elected leader of the liberal Democrats (“you may be surprised, Mr Humphreys, to learn that Christians do pray”).

          • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

            Prey on the weak minded.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            When Christianity was big ordinary folk were not allowed access to churches They even had their weddings outside in the porch.

          • Terry Field

            Invented, selective crap

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Face it, Christianity was for the servants. The aristos paid lip-service, but they recognised it for what it was, violent superstition which served to keep the lower orders in their place.

        • Terry Field

          NO; the money worship comes much more from the Corporate State new-labour Mandelson-Blair-Brown low-graders-made-good, hard-working-striver, value-free, buy-the-votes-of-the-hordes types, than it ever did from the patrician Shire-Tory types.
          New Labour are the scum of the earth.

          • trashbat

            Thatchers Children though. She was no shire Tory.

      • Castro Spendlove

        You don’t see it my friend because it isn’t there. Believe your eyes. It doesn’t matter who is in government, what is good for the global rich and good for global capital is Good. Full Stop. It’s the credo of Labour and the Conservatives; any EU or GATT agreement that makes it easier for big business to predate, any law that makes small business so expensive it becomes untenable our Government will sign up to; from cheese making, motorcycle training or abattoirs, the bigger the business the better it is.

        Don’t count of the council blocking the planning application in perpetuity; the rates on all those flats will dwarf what it gets from The Glad. And a few brown envelopes in (another) pub car parks is also to be expected.

  • Frank

    Up to the Council and secondly, to expect Boris to help is absurd. Boris is in thrall to foreign money and appears to be quite happy at the prospect of London becoming architecturally a second rate version of Dubai.

    • mrs 1234

      ‘meanwhile, local communities are dying’

      It is a terrible and regrettable shame that there is no care given to the preservation of such communities with links to old working class lives. As the article notes the sledge hammer has been taken to them with relentless ruthlessness since the 60s. Philistines one and all.

      • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

        The Tories are not respecters of working class heritage. Do you ever see a Bingo hall or a working men’s institute saved for the nation? In Somerset they have allowed the Skittle alleys to be converted to holiday cottages or gastro pub restaurants. Even the chapels worshipped in by the faithful poor are now sorry little home conversions for toff weekenders.

        • mrs 1234

          I know it’s tragic but it’s not just Conservatives that are at fault. It’s not about class hatred either. It’s about arrogance, money and Philistinism something that affects all sides of the political spectrum. Labour governments and councils laid into many working class areas in the 60s and 70s just as did the Cons. More recently John Prescott’s Pathfinder scheme laid waste to row upon row of decent terraced houses and erected characterless rabbit hutches in their place. I’m particularly thinking of areas of Manchester and Salford where residents concerns were not listened to and calculations that proved it was more cost effective to restore and modernise those terraces and keep old communities intact were given no regard. Horrible.

          • Gilbert White

            Amazingly, Hull has tried very hard since Prescott, opened a million kebab and knocking shops. Even a few Australians stop over now. There is a really good backpackers and budget accommodation in the centre. Idiot council was not too keen about it at first. When London is full in July the backpackers can come to Hull. A lot of grand architecture is still here and nearby.

        • Damaris Tighe

          The smoking ban brought in by Labour also had a lot to do with the demise of working men’s clubs, pubs etc. Labour’s metro elite didn’t give a t*ss for the working class then, or now.

          • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

            Funnily enough the destruction of old working men’s clubs ,bingo halls, chapels and cinemas plus the Tory contempt for the lower orders was documented by Ferdinand Mount in his book Mind the Gap written in 2003. The smoking ban came later, in 2007, brought in by arch Tory T Blair.

          • Damaris Tighe

            The smoking ban was terminal & supported – or not opposed – by the whole Labour government, whatever you may think of Blair. I remember the idea of an exemption for working men’s clubs being discussed at the time.

          • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

            No it didn’t. Working men’s clubs totalled over 4,000 with up to 4 million members in their heyday around 1970. By 2007 ( as reported by the Independent newspaper) there were only 2,300 . Since the smoking ban another 300 have closed, but many cite the equality laws as the main reason, having to admit women has caused the closure of dozens of clubs.

          • Pacificweather

            Selfishly, the government only considered the NHS expenditure and cancer league tables rather than the small pleasures of the working class. The publican in my local said it cost him £4000 a year to run the smoke extractors but it was worth it to see the pleasure his customers got from their cigarettes.

      • berosos_bubos

        Doesn’t ethnicity come into the equation too ?

  • ottocrat

    I’m the Chris Kendall referenced in the article. The Glad is one of those wonderful community assets which we can never get back once it’s gone. Such pubs are London’s past, but also its future. And this is just one example of a wider sickness. See also my blog post here: http://ottocr.at/?p=296

    • Pacificweather

      Good luck with the campaign.

  • Peter Stroud

    Pathetic. Pubs are closing all over the country due to lack of customers. Yet a perfectly prosperous establishment is under threat, because it stands on a valuable development site. Unfortunately London’s current mayor will do little to save it, and it is doubtful that any of the hopeful successors will campaign for it.

    • WirralBill

      When property prices are high, almost all pubs are “valuable development sites”, worth much more redeveloped than you can ever make from them by selling beer and food.

    • MrRexRedux

      Islam doesn’t like alcohol, which is probably another very good reason why pubs are closing.

  • Abie Vee

    The first thing you must do is to nominate your pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). Pubs with ACV status are given planning protection under new laws introduced this April. Go to camra.org/list-your-local for further information.

    It’s easy and cheap to apply for ACV listing which of itself provides no guarantees, but it’s existence alone is quite often enough to deter property speculators.

    Do it NOW… don’t wait for the day when the vultures come a-knocking!

    • Ben

      Should be http://www.camra.org.uk/list-your-local

      ACV gives you a time window to organize and make an offer to buy the place. If you want to do that, then by all means go ahead with me cheering you on. But if you don’t intend to actually do that then it’s just a waste of everyone’s time, and will result in the property rotting empty until the moratorium expires.

      • Abie Vee

        I doubt that you could be much further off target if you tried.

        An ACV is a legal process whereby people can use the planning system to combat unwelcome change of use or demolition of their “local”… in the interim, there is no requirement for anyone to “make an offer”, and neither does the pub have to stand empty. I can’t imagine from where you dreampt up such nonsense.

        As I said, there are no guarantees, but the CAMRA site lists many examples where pubs have been saved by community action. With an ACV in place, many potential developers are hesitant about purchasing the site in the first place!

        • Ben

          Try again: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/20/part/5/chapter/3/enacted

          For the hard of thinking, I never said there was a *requirement* to make an offer, I said ACV was to give you an *opportunity* to make an offer. I never said it *had* to stand empty, I said it *would* stand empty. Obviously the developers do this to undermine any campaign against change of use (an empty decaying pub doesn’t count as change of use, and the council cannot legally refuse change of use if the current use is uneconomic).

          Because that’s what happens when you try to use the law just *take* something that belongs to somebody else without compensation. They get around it any way they can. (They will also by law be compensated for any delay or other cost created by the ACV listing, so I doubt it has ever changed any developer’s mind.)

          If you want it, buy it. Make a better offer. Simple as that.

          • Abie Vee

            If only thing were as “simple as that” eh? Wouldn’t life be wonderful.

            The point you miss (for reasons best known to yourself) is that an ACV listing can now lead to the local authority refusing change of use. And THAT is the main point of an ACV… not the matter of ownership, a side issue!*

            Before these new powers were brought in, as amended April last, property developers could change pub sites into offices, betting shops, supermarkets, or schools, without planning permission (paradoxically they would have needed planning permission for the reverse process, i.e changing a shop into a pub for instance).

            Now we have a level playing field.

            True an empty pub doesn’t count as change of use. But a crumbling building faces action from local councils (up to and including compulsory purchase if needs be) and I believe that with an ACV listing it would also need planning permission to knock it down, which would of course be opposed. In Maida Vale the Carlton Arms was recently demolished without permission; the property developer has been ordered to rebuild it brick by brick to it’s original condition. And rightly so.

            An ACV listing is a way of helping local communities protect their pubs from change of use. Deride the idea as much as you like: it works!

            *Profitability now has minimal bearing on the matter. My local was saved from a developer’s clutches last year. The pub owners were said to have been offered over £7 million for the site. No pub you’ve ever drank in is that profitable. However, with an ACV listing in place, and following community representations, the council refused change of use, threw the developers plans out of court, and the pub was immediately sold-on to a small independent pub chain (sum undisclosed). Happy happy days.

          • Ben

            I really don’t know why you think I “missed” that point, since I referred to it directly in my previous comment. Perhaps reading isn’t your strong point?
            It’s lovely that you think ownership is a side issue though! Your delight in forcing other people to do what you want them to with their property would warm the heart cockles of every clipboard Nazi.

          • Abie Vee

            Obviously the meaning of “an asset of community value escapes” your comprehension. Why am I not surprised?

            The attitude that, it’s MY property therefore I will do what I damned well like with it, is utter nonsense. Planning permission, building regulations, health and safety concerns, highways issues and preservation orders are all to be contended with.

            And now, thanks to new laws, those protections and procedures apply to pubs as well.

            You don’t like it? TOUGH.

          • Ben

            Ownership of anything is simply the right to decide what to do with it – nothing else. Your glee in the theft of the property rights of others in the name of The Rules illustrates the attitude of the prod-nose tendency everywhere. What a lovely person you are!

          • Abie Vee

            Er, no… you buy it, you sell it. An ACV does not infringe upon that right. All else (as in any other property) is conditional.

          • Ben

            Of course you think that. Your type always do.

          • Abie Vee

            “My type”? Yeah Boss… the law of the land thinks that too.

          • dmiller

            if you wish to change the use of most buildings in the city you need permission from the local authority. Even if you own the freehold, you do not have the right to decide what to do with it.

  • Knives_and_Faux

    I’ve stopped caring, London is a foreign country. The monkeys can play in the ruins of our culture.

    • edward bentfield

      And these foreigners even have their own football league -The Premiership. Britain has become ‘NOT fit for BRITS’.

      • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

        Well London. That is not really a part of Britain anymore. The Londoners of the Blitz, the Londoners of the smogs and the Krays are just a vestige of a culture like the Red Indians of the Great Plains.

        • ViolinSonaten b minor.

          We’ll I should imagine what part of London.
          Clearly the East End isn’t London anymore I assume.
          Places such as Hackney and Bow ( assuming I have the correct areas ) but you still have the posh areas such as Kensington.

          PS what are the Krays ?

          • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

            The Krays were chirpy traditional London gangland villains who would happily nail you to the floor for a few quid.

          • Gilbert White

            Firm but fair, they nailed your head, to the coffee table, only if you really deserved it unlike the no standards foreign, half caste muck we have now. Source Monty Python’s Flying Circuses.

          • montague_stjohn

            Posh areas like Kensington are increasingly comprised of investment properties for criminal oligarchs from Russia.

        • Dion Trotsky

          You’re right I too am mistily nostalgic for a time when I could be incinerated by aerial bombing, suffocated by murderous pollution or intimidated by vicious gangland killers. These bloody foreigners have ruined everything.

        • Greg Tingey

          Utter bollocks
          I’m still living where my parents moved in to in 1948

          • Terry Field

            Sounds unimaginative.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Couldn’t afford to leave? Walthamstow is nearly out in Essex anyway. The outer suburbs are where those who service London live. You probably work on the trains, or drive a taxi.

          • Greg Tingey

            Don’t WANT to leave – I like it here.
            [ HINT: Ask the estate agents about “Walthamstow Village” ]
            Anyway house-prices round here have gone utterly insane recently, so if I wanted to I could turn an immense profit – but what would be the point?

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Ah, the charming cockney reticence about showing off. If you need it explaining, Why to leave Walthamstow, then you are beyond saving. How about the 23% Muslim population. How about the abysmal schools or the rubbish architecture.

          • Greg Tingey

            You revolting little racist snob.
            My father was a college, then a University lecturer, having worked his way up from a very poor childhood.
            For myself, I have an Engineering MSc.
            As it happens, the shops & services around here are excellent, having got a lot better over the years.
            [ Though I agree that LBWF’s education “services” are crap, that is of no direct concern to me, any more ]
            And, if you heard me speak, you would not think me a “cockney” – though I can put it on if required, as I can also “do” Mancunian …
            Oh: p.s as an Huguenot atheist, I have no concern for anyone’s religion, because they are all blackmailing lies.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            So you do work for the railways. How does my comment make me racist?

          • Greg Tingey

            SInce I am 69, I’m retired.
            I used to work in scientific research & as a (science-&-maths) teacher ( & other things too )
            So wrong, wrong & wrong.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Still a service. Educating London’s hotch pitch of people. Why does my comment make me racist?

        • Pacificweather

          I really miss the Krays.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            But it was a short lived craze. Like the twist or the Bay City Rollers.

          • Pacificweather

            I still do the twist. Very good for loosening the back muscles. Lulu’s “Shout” works well and also gets the lazy so and soes out of bed on a Sunday morning.

    • Jambo25

      Entirely agree. London is no longer the capital city of the UK but could become the capital of the Third World.

      • mickey667

        I think its still fucking great, cheer up

        • mrs 1234

          Ha,ha you’re right. Was getting really gloomy reading all this!

        • Robbydot1

          Only in parts.

        • Jambo25

          It certainly isn’t the city I knew in the 60s and 70s. It appears that unless you have a shed load of cash or very low expectations its pretty unpleasant.

          • Abie Vee

            I can assure you that it is very far from unpleasant. I actually live here from choice. Tried the countryside, didn’t like it.

          • Jambo25

            I no longer live there but I do visit occasionally. More important, the old friends I do still have living in London are all getting out. I’m not suggesting that the alternative to London is the countryside. Places like Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Nottingham etc etc are not exactly verdant fields.

        • jeremy Morfey

          The Welsh say that about their sheep. Each to his own, I suppose.

        • Terry Field

          No; it is bongo-bogo land. Full of secret markets selling bush meat to the afs.

          • Abie Vee

            And what mud hut to you live in Huckleberry?

    • mickey667

      London is being ruined by dirty money and property speculation. Rich are pricing out ordinary people. That is what is wrong with it

      • mrs 1234

        Rich foreigners and poor foreigners. Londoners are being squeezed out from both sides.

      • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

        “Being ruined”? It has been a sh**hole since about 2005.

        • Abie Vee

          What TF happened to you in 2005?

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            2005 is the date when native born Britons became a minority in London.

          • Abie Vee

            Was it really? I didn’t notice. But as most of the natives had already fled to Clacton and other dreadful dumps with their ill-gotten gains from Thatcher’s Right to Buy legislation, what have you got to moan about? They weren’t pushed out… they ran off with the takings.

          • MrRexRedux

            And what was the reason they ‘ran off’?

          • Abie Vee

            D’oh.

          • MrRexRedux

            What, you don’t know? That’s amazing when one reads your other posts. The natives ran off because of FOREIGN INFLUX, mostly moslem. They ran off because they didn’t want to be part of the dreadful degradation to communities and districts that the foreigners brought with them. If you come from a third world cess pit and you want your new home to look just like home…

          • Abie Vee

            No they did not. In London we are used to foreigners; I grew up with Irish and West Indian kids. The 1851 Census showed that 50% of London’s population had not been born there.

            The people who do all the whinging are the ones who sold their council houses for ludicrous profits and fled to the outer fringes with their ill-gotten gains. They were not pushed, they ran away. And now they hate it, but can’t afford to come back. So they blame the immigrants.

            London’s a marvelous place to live.

          • MrRexRedux

            I too was born in London but obviously some decades before you. In my childhood there were no West Indians children or adults. They didn’t start to come here until 1958 when the Windrush brought the first people over. I well remember people staring at someone with a different skin colour in Hammersmith because he was so unusual. There may well have been a lot of Irish but I didn’t know any. They mostly worked in the building trades. I also know many people who sold up their houses, privately bought, that is, not council houses, because moslems and blacks were moving into London in large numbers. They changed whole districts. It was called white flight then and I expect it still is. You know nothing of what London used to be like. My daughter still lives and works in London but I have no idea why she bothers. It’s a right hole to what it used to be. As for the 1851 Census, it may well be that 50% of ‘Londoners’ were foreign-born but they sure weren’t moslems or blacks, more like Jews and Europeans who preferred to integrate.

          • Abie Vee

            There were West Indians and Poles in the armed forces who were prepared to lay down their lives fighting for this country against the Nazis during the war, and many stayed on here after 1945. You should be old enough to remember that. The Irish came here in waves from the times of the Industrial Revolution and the potato famine. In the 1851 Census, Irish were the largest single “foreign” section of London’s population. There were also black sailors in Nelson’s navy at Trafalgar.

            “White flight” is the biggest nonsense of them all. People moved out to the suburbs as first the railways and then the Underground and finally the motorways expanded outwards into commuter land. And for some peculiar reason, which I have never been able to fathom, many people wish to retire to the coast or countryside.

            You don’t seem to have a firm grasp on your own history.

            You don’t know why your daughter works here? Why… won’t she speak to you? That’s quite sad, but with your reactionary attitudes, hardly surprising. It’s the old people who find it the hardest to adapt.

          • MrRexRedux

            If ‘white flight’ is nonsense, why are there so many moslem areas like Walthamstow and areas of towns like Luton, Dudley, Bradford and Rugby? They were once ordinary English areas and towns but I don’t think you’ll remember that. There were NO MOSQUES where now there are over 2000. There were no sharia courts, now there’s almost 200. Where did all the Cockneys and the East End Jews go? They didn’t hang about once the invaders arrived! As for West Indians, Indians, Poles and anyone else who agreed to fight for Britain, there weren’t that many of those. Of course my daughter speaks to me, silly you! I moved out of London some decades ago because I could see what was coming! You say ‘my history’ – are you sure you’re not an invader too, and why do you keep on about the 1851 Census? Other Censuses are available.

          • Abie Vee

            The cockneys mostly cashed-in their chips. I’m NOT telling you again. It’s a waste of my time.

          • MrRexRedux

            How do you know the people who moved out want to come back? I wouldn’t, not if there are big headed little mares like you living there.

          • Abie Vee

            How do I know? It’s apparent by their plaintive nostalgic wailing about “the old days” and the pathetic way they seek to return the country to some dimly remembered “Golden Age” of yore.

          • MrRexRedux

            You don’t sound a very happy person yourself. You have an acidic way of expressing yourself. Still, I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to live in London, not these days. Perhaps you are in a different social class to me. I don’t know anyone from a council house, sorry.

          • Abie Vee

            Social class? Have you never been to Hampstead, Highgate, Chelsea, South Kensington, Westminster, Mayfair, Belgravia, Wandsworth, Islington, Southwark, St John’s Wood, Bloomsbury, Bayswater, Marylebone, Pimlico etc etc etc? These people could bury you!

            Social class my arz. You can’t get a decent-sized two bedroom flat for under a £1 million in these places. A mews house was recently sold for £24 million in Mayfair; an ex-council flat in Southwark was sold for £1.2 million this month; and Penthouses at No1 Hyde Park go for £100 million.

            Social class. Who are you kiddin’?

          • MrRexRedux

            I know all those places very well. Islington was a poo hole back then though and Wandsworth still is. I lived on the Embankment, just along from the Houses of Parliament, and I think I could bury a few of those people you mention. I bought my daughter a flat in Camden about 5 years ago.

          • Abie Vee

            Wandsworth still is? Yeah right.

            Camden, eh? Next door to me. No wonder she doesn’t want to leave.

          • Abie Vee

            see above

    • justejudexultionis

      You should care because the foreignization of London is rapidly being extended to the rest of the UK.

      • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

        We had to stop using our kitchen at work between 4 & 4.30pm as the Somalian lady cleaners use it then for their prayer meeting.

        • Terry Field

          Tell them to piss off! have you no guts!!

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      Today they announced that 8.4 million of the people in the UK were born abroad. As 5 million of them are in London there is a glimmer of hope for the rest of us.

      • berosos_bubos

        Well most would be in England and that is excluding all the illegals and their off-spring born here.

    • Abbas Raza

      What’s your amazing contribution to culture and society then? Had a Morris Dance recently? Been to an Anglican Church?

      • jeremy Morfey

        Done both. Hoping to combine them morris dancing in the village church, but first I’ve got to teach the yokels how to wave hankies.

      • Sunshine Sux

        Any culture is better than the ‘culture’ who wars with everybody on the planet, including their own, can not live in peace with anybody, especially their own, and sees alcohol and mini skirts as worse, than burying women and children alive, child sex-slave trade and beheading human beings.
        There’s more culture in a cockroach flavoured yogurt.

        • Abbas Raza

          So, in other words, you do fuck all.

        • jeremy Morfey

          Rubbish – they don’t need to put real cockroaches in “cockroach flavoured yogurt” – flavouring is sufficient to meet regs. If want real cockroaches, you need to order “crunchy live cockroach yogurt”, which by EU rules must contain cockroaches, with living bacteria (although some cowboy merchants have been found out substituting horse flesh).

          I can’t tell you if the cockroaches used are halal, since you have to butcher them in a certain way shouting “Allah Akhbar” while doing so, but I think Islamic State are posting up useful “how to” videos on You Tube.

    • jeremy Morfey

      I avoid London too – it’s been a sort of mental asylum for alien values since the 1980s when they built Canary Wharf.

      I was born in Middlesex, and was affronted when I registered my son’s birth and they put it down as Greater London. I told them it was not Greater London until 1965 and I’d moved out by then.

      All sorts of beloved landmarks have been torn down during my lifetime, and I grieve every one. Luckily the house where I was born was a tiny coach house attached to one of a row of grand Victorian houses, all of which were knocked down for flats except the coach house, which was in a plot of land not worth developing. The TV studios down the road, which continued to host shows right up to its demise (Still Open All Hours being the last) is scheduled for demolition since its riverside location will make more money as executive housing. BBC Television Centre has also been lost because the powers-that-be decided that Salford should be the cultural hub of the nation from now on. Doesn’t say much for London.

      I lost the skating rink in Richmond in the 1992 – again because it was worth more redeveloped. More recently, Wembley Stadium (which should have been Grade 1 listed) was torn down to make a designer prestige statement for the Premier League, and Earls Court, in a city where exhibition space is in much demand and even was an Olympics venue in 2012 is now being flattened for, guess what, prestigious apartment investment opportunities.

      I expect when HS2 contractors’ vehicles force my sister to close her business in North London without compensation, there will be no reason to go there at all. The functional working streets of Kentish Town are being bought up by developers, replacing the pubs and shops with yet more investment opportunities to add to the pile, and show that Osborne’s economic miracle is working.

      Like you, I don’t care any more. As long as the money wahhabis see no value in the Malvern Hills, I’d be happy, and I see no value in the sort of megamoney commanded by the city, however many billions it’s costing the nation in debt.

      • Abie Vee

        Salford doesn’t say much for anywhere. It’s a shjt hole. But the general idea is to shift public sector jobs from the over-heated South East to regions of higher unemployment. A sensible idea, wouldn’t you say (given a moment’s sober reflection)?

        Of course the people of London oppose many of the redevelopments going on here, not least HS2, gentrification, and social-cleansing. It isn’t as if we are begging for this destruction… it is forced upon us by global capitalism, against which we are powerless.

        But I find the most disgruntled people of all are those London natives, like yourself, who took Thatcher’s shilling, then sold-up at great profit, and fled to the countryside where they found to their shock/horror that they don’t actually like it: all very well for a holiday, but LIVING there!!!??? Nah. And now they haven’t the means to come back.

        Having fled of their own accord, they now cling to the outer fringes, pining for the “old days” and blaming everyone else for their self-induced predicament. They weren’t pushed out: they ran off with their loot.

        Watch out for yourself…. normally these heretofore ordinary people mutate into rabid UKIP supporters as a result.

        • jeremy Morfey

          It was going so well until you claimed to speak for myself, rather than for yourself.

          I was never a London native – my parents moved the family from Middlesex in 1963, before it was swallowed up by Greater London. I’ve lived in Worcestershire since 1992, never regretted leaving the corner of Hampshire/Surrey where I got married, but fled because migrating yuppies priced us out. Despite the marriage falling apart in our new home, I had no intention of going back. I am happy where I live now, except I could do with a companion to share it with.

          It’s just a pity that they had to choose Salford. Malvern would have been far better as a meeting place for the artistic and media types, as it has been since WW2 for boffins. It has four theatres, beautiful scenery, inspired Elgar, Shaw, Tolkein and CS Lewis to write their greatest works, and was spared Beeching’s Axe, so you can still get around.

    • Abie Vee

      It’s been my experience that the people who say that sort of rubbish don’t actually live here. London is very largely a pigment of their imagination.

  • right1_left1

    Velly intlesting how visceral anti socialist big government enthusiasts start to complain when the ‘free enterprise’ solution doesnt produce the “required” results.
    do it all the time they do.

    Makes my day that does !

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      Don’t make me laugh. Free enterprise is only ever offered as an excuse for some chinless twat to line his pockets.

      • Tamerlane

        It’s the opposite of socialism – offered as an excuse for some pointless window licking oxygen thief to line his pockets.

  • Felixthecat

    F u c k i n g barbarians.

    That chancing t o s s e r Johnson has a lot to answer.

    Why is it that we only have a choice between muppet identity politics on the left and plutocracy on the right.

    • berosos_bubos

      and UKIP in between.

  • mr big

    When London loses its soul the people will fall into a hole.

  • mickey667

    There a direct contradiction currently between economic growth in London and communities. Between property rights and democracy.

    London is built upon this money. If you research into it its quite astonoshing how much is owned by anonymous accounts offshore. Much of it is oil money, much of it dirty money.

    But where ever it comes from the ‘blandification’ of London carries on. very sad

  • WirralBill

    Didn’t two-faced Dave once promise to defend the British pub? Well, like so many British things (including its people), Dave simply doesn’t care.

    • justejudexultionis

      David shifted his considerable money reserves offshore long ago.

      • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

        Now his mop haired idiot chum from the Bullingdon is ethnic cleansing London of all British people who are not millionaires.

        • justejudexultionis

          That’s a hell of a lot of people!

  • mickey667

    Get some squatter in. Those buggers are pros at keeping buildings away from poverty developers

    • Peter Hulse

      Perhaps some of the regulars could be persuaded to nurse a pint through the small hours?

  • Sarah duncan

    The same has happened to The Old White Bear in Hampstead, which has an ACV, bought by an offshore company based in the Isle of Man, this pub is being left to rot away, I suspect to further development of flats or whatever. At the moment the frontage is used for dumping rubble from other building works in the area. No-one answers questions and indeed telephones are put down. Very nasty.

    • Ben

      The one and only purpose and effect of ACV is to delay development to give the community time to organize and make an fair offer to buy the place. If the community doesn’t actually intend to go ahead and do that then it’s just a waste of everyone’s time, as you see there.

  • justejudexultionis

    The Spectator should be loving it. After all, this is Thatcherite capitalism at work!

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      Trickle down economics .Attracting the billionaires is raising all the millionaires boats.

    • berosos_bubos

      Thatcher stood up for ordinary people.

      • Pacificweather

        Provided they wore blue uniforms.

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        Stood on them more like. Destroyed their jobs and deregulated the greedy City .

      • justejudexultionis

        Yes, as long as they lived in the so-called ‘Home Counties’ and voted for her.

  • justejudexultionis

    Is there anything in this country that isn’t foreign-owned?

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      Thatcher’s Cider.

  • Muttley

    Everything is all about money now. Nothing else matters.

  • Sten vs Bren

    We should be building pubs not getting rid of them.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Pubs are like churches, they frequently serve several purposes in their lifetime.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Over-priced alcoholic beverages, smokey atmosphere, boring, garrulous, know-it-all, I’m-never-wrong customers … I miss the pub like I miss a brain tumour,
    You are so locked into your banal, trivial culture, Britisher pals. This doesn’t bode well as potential residents abroad.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      You call yourself British, yet you say and write the most un-British and anti-British of things …

    • right1_left1

      Over-priced alcoholic beverages, –>mostly correct
      Smokey atmosphere,—>totally false
      Boring—>can be true or false
      Garrulous,—>can be true rue or false
      know-it-all,—>thats me
      I’m-never-wrong customers—>thats me

      If I ever meet you I’ll put aside my book “philosophy for dummies” its a difficult read anyway and clarify thesituation to my satisfaction and your benefit..

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        After over 30 years ducking and diving in Asia, I’ve nothing in common with recently arrived Brits; no knowledge and even less interest in what’s happening around them. As for your run-of-the-mill Brits still washed up on the UK beach; less than nothing in common with these risk-averse losers that lack the moral courage to fly the UK coop.
        Mainstream membership just does cut it, you really need to be on the periphery of society to stand any sort of chance of making the break. For a glimpse of the type of mindless, two-dimensional non-entity I’m eluding to, see below. Who better qualified than a disillusioned Brit to grasp the limitations of British society. Doubt you’re ready for this type of revaluation, but you never know, in a few short years …
        Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          “Moral courage to fly the UK coop” … what on earth does that even mean?! “Fly the coop”, by emigrating to Japan?! “As a hatter” and all that …

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “Moral courage to fly the UK coop” … what on earth does that even mean?

            The complete anthesis of a risk-averse loser like you, stranded in an up-north, multicultural sister-$haging $hithole like Rochdale. Where do you get all this misguided patriotism from, Jock? Britain’s shafted you at every turn. Your next user name should be Alf Garnett.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            You still sound more like a Japanese bloke trying to sound English (and bad at it!) rather than actually English.

      • Labour Mole Catcher

        No-one on this side of the Pond uses “alcoholic beverages”. The term is “alcohol” and that is it, full stop.

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      No-one can possibly be more know-it-all than you! No contest! You have even invented a language of your own!

  • JonBW

    Exactly.

    We need conservative voices saying loudly and clearly that money and economic growth are not as important as our traditions and values.

    • NorthernFirst

      Good luck finding them.

  • Walter Ellis

    A superb analysis, Peter. But, as you obviously know, you are fighting against the tide. London in another 20 years will be a capitalist city-state, owned and governed by the global élite. You don’t have to be a Socialist to believe this. You don’t even have to be a Londoner. But the loss of London as the capital of England and the UK should be marked by the award to the city of whatever the opposite is of World Heritage Site status.

    My son, who IS a Londoner, is getting married next month. He and his wife-to-be cannot afford to buy a home in London, so they will either continue to rent (from a Sri-Lankan property speculator) or else move out to the distant suburbs. I resent this, and when I read that a fine local pub that has stood for generations is about to make way for yet another monstrous block of flats aimed at wealthy foreigners, I feel like throwing up.

    But the sad truth is, there is nothing to be done. The forces behind London’s accelerating globalisation are simply irresistable. The only thing that could defeat them would be a Bolshevik-style revolution which (a) ain’t going to happen and (b) would be a cure worse than the disease. Gawd help us all.

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      Once London is a city state like say Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai etc then we should allow it to secede from Britain. It costs the rest of us too much as it is.
      I propose moving our capital back to Winchester, Oxford or York.

    • Pacificweather

      I admire your defeatest attitude. If only more would adopt it we would save a fortune in planning application costs. Lost a perfectly good application to tear down some very dismal flats to build luxury apartments because the looney lefties living in them got their photo in the Evening Standard. Never trust a Russian with a newspaper.

  • Gep

    Having been a regular at the Gladstone for 15 years and a “bloody foreigner” myself I’m rather annoyed at the xenophobic comments below. Not every foreigner is a rich investor that wants to destroy the British culture: read a bit of history and you’ll find London has always attracted people from all over the world, not to mention the fact that it was founded by, guess what, foreigners from Rome.

    • Walter Ellis

      I’m certainly not against people from outside the UK coming to live in Britain. For a start, I now live in France after 14 years in New York. My objection is to the super-rich global élite, of whom, I presume you are not one, lording it over London and rendering it unaffordable for its native citizens.

      • Gep

        I wasn’t referring to your comment Walter, but to others like “the foreignization of London”… Regarding the problem of rich foreign property speculators I think the politicians could do something about it, at least to limit it, for example giving Londoners preferential option to buy new builds off-plan, then UK citizens, then EU citizens, etc.

        • Pacificweather

          Better still, any property not lived in for 3 months becomes the property of the Local Authority to let to Londoners. The owner has to pay a 25% of its value to the LA to get it back.

  • Ben

    If you want it, buy it. Simple.

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      An adage that applies to less than 1% thanks to Tory enrichment of the few with their dysfunctional free enterprise dogma.

      • Ben

        It’s an asset of community value isn’t it? If the community clubs together it won’t cost so much. It can be done, you can get a mortgage and everything, you’d only have to raise about a quarter of the money. But right now it doesn’t belong to the community, and as the community have had the benefit of it for decades they should be saying “thank you for the last 50 years” not “OMG UR EVLZ I WANT IT BECUZ I HAD IT B4”.

  • lakelander

    They did it to the Railway & Bicycle in Sevenoaks. Damn them.

  • God_Zilla

    I ate one of their excellent pies in there for lunch just a few hours. Great little pub and it’s such a shame that this continues to happen with little resistance and tacit approval from the establishment (i.e. Boris). Greed has always existed in London but now greed has taken over in a desperate land grab by companies who couldn’t care less about people or the city, they just see an investment and a bottom line. There’s a housing crisis and these flat will do NOTHING to solve it, they are so out of the price range of the people that need them.

    One of my work colleagues recently said he liked Boris and he was a good major, but when I quizzed him he couldn’t come up with a single thing he’d actually done that was a benefit to the city. His floppy cuddly image has masked a giant sell-off.

    • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

      I travelled in a taxi through London last month. The taxi driver had been brought up in Greenwich but forced to move out to Milton Keynes and commute to work. He said he saw Boris cycling past his taxi a week or so before…..his one regret was not running him over.

  • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

    .Thank you, Peter. There speaks a true Conservative.

  • Yorkieeye

    “London for sale, come and get a piece now”
    Cameron could do something. He could pass a law preventing the sale of our country to foreign interests (EU excepted of course).

  • MojaveDon

    Years ago we walked a good piece in central London past some horrible looking modern buildings, all concrete and glass. We finally got to our destination, St. John’s at Smith’s Sq. where we had a drink in the basement, then listened to the Tallis Scholars.
    Please save some of the old, brick, stone, worn, humane spots in London. Please.

  • ill-liberal

    Do Londons lefties share such concerns for all the pubs that close outside of the capital, because they end up being worth nothing as they’re situated in areas that have become exclusively Somali or Bangledeshi ?

  • Clive

    All of the comments were removed from Rod Liddle’s piece about Daisy Buchanan

    Why was that ?

    Moderators are the new censors and it’s time it stopped

    • kitten

      I checked, the comments are still there.

  • douglas redmayne

    Another set of f**cks destroying authenticity. No doubt many of the rich f**ks living in these properties will go to cafe Nero etc and f**k magnets like that. May they choke on their skinny lattes

  • milford

    ‘…. to uphold values greater and more enduring than money.’
    Money is God in this post democratic secular era.

  • edithgrove

    the Gladstone used to be lovely gay pub serving food and with a bit of local colour, incongruous to its surroundings, later it became less lovely when a new management ripped out the old interior and now it seems lovely again, young and fairly heterosexual. But Southwark, Bankside, Borough, whatever its calls itself now no longer tolerates loveliness, and the Gladstone seems unlikely to survive the corporate takeover.

  • Chris Hobson

    Pubs are finished im afraid not just in London but here in Leeds i have noticed two going the way of the dodo this past month.

    • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

      Greedy breweries, supermarkets, excise duties, massive rents, sky sports, smoking bans. But most of all the Puritan middle class sneering at “incorrect,” lifestyle choices.

      • Tamerlane

        And pub bores too. I’m told your local started having problems after you arrived.

        • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

          It helps when socialising to have a broad general knowledge and a range of interests. Your simple default of opposing everything you hear regardless of facts is indeed boring. What a shame you are so touchy and sensitive too. An unwarranted high opinion of yourself must leave you largely shunned and ignored.
          You remind me if the Monty Python sketch. Is this the right room for an argument?

          • Tamerlane

            That’s a hook on the first bait! Cracker Yvonne/Barry. Are you acting out? I think so.

  • JC

    What a bummer tbe Spectator supports tbe party that ensures the demise of such businesses….

  • DavidMurphy57

    “…. the Prime Minister vowed….”. You Speccy-types never learn, do you?

  • MikeH

    Perhaps if we had introduced a foreign-buyers tax in the 5-15% range 20 or 30 years ago we would have had a much stronger economy and / or homes for our children.

  • mecha-rigsby

    London has become a place where only the very poor and the very rich live. If, like me, you’re anywhere in the middle, you’re squeezed out.

    I left in 2009 when I realised I’d had enough of paying stupid money for a one bedroom flat in Catford, walking down Lewisham High Street, being practically the only white person and barely hearing English being spoken once.

    Of course – there was also all the enrichment (crime), diversity (more crime) and vibrancy (you can probably guess).

    Pubs are closing in London because:-

    1. Pubs that cater for blacks tend to get closed down pretty quickly due to the attendant crime and anti-social behaviour. Whites will tend not to use them for the same reasons.
    2. Muslims. Not massive drinkers. Not overly keen on those that do like a drink.

    It may seem a bit overwrought but this is one of the things that immigration has done to London.

    • Gep

      1 and 2 are not the reasons why the Gladstone is closing.
      If you weren’t happy of the diversity of Catford you could have moved to next door Forest Hill of Hither Green: didn’t need to leave London.

    • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

      A couple of good points. More Muslims does mean fewer drinkers. But it is more a demographic issue. The elderly tend not to be heavy drinkers too. We now have 12 million over 65s. Pub culture is during. People no longer use them as social gossip centres, they prefer Twitface. Young people do not do social drinking and chatting over a couple of pints, they neck half a bottle of supermarket vodka and go out at 11 o clock at night as most pubs are closing.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      I understand Muslims never have a drink. Not even at Christmas.

  • Snag

    “Saving pubs” means stealing money from the hands of rightful owners. For the ‘greater good’.

    But it’s ok when it’s other people’s money, eh?

  • burntshed

    Dave said he will do something, don’t hold your breath!

  • Terry Field

    Britain’s politics offers establishment moneymaking, or soviet-style collectivist dreamscapes.
    No sensible development of a gentle but powerful national politics has happened since the dysmall post war horror-period.
    The result.
    Fractured lives, bloody dissaointment, money-rape, bureaucratic indifference, and supra-national corporatism.
    Mercifully, I live elsewhere.

    • Fred Yang

      Mr Valls on the radio this morning invoking the spirit of the Statue of Liberty as an argument for effectively open borders with Africa :
      “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
      >> Lucky you! Franceis not at all a collectivist dreamscape

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Islam disapproves of alcoholic beverage consumption. For an explanation of pub closure, that’s all you need to know.

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      But aren’t you the idiot who is always attacking Britain and British culture generally in the first place?!

  • Ordinary Man

    What a pathetic bunch of comments. It’s up to the owners to do whatever the hell they like within the confines of the law.

  • MrRexRedux

    Lant is an old word that means urine. It was collected from people’s privies by the Lant Man and used to tan leather.

  • Toby Tobama

    thanks for this. The Glad is not just a pub, it really is a wonderful well run, unusual, popular and tasteful music venue, unique in London. i moved to be closer to it.

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