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Carmen Lawrence & the left

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  • Peter Boyle
    Should the left all unite behind Carmen Lawrence, as Bob Gould has argued? But what would this mean? Carmen Lawrence says: * She supports mandatory detention
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 17, 2003
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      Should the left all unite behind Carmen Lawrence, as Bob
      Gould has argued?

      But what would this mean?

      Carmen Lawrence says:

      * She supports mandatory detention of asylum seekers who
      have made an illegal entry (just they should not be detained
      for as long as they are).

      * She doesn't have a different position to Crean on the Iraq
      occupation.

      * She supports Crean as the ALP leader and congratulated Mr
      Jones and Mr Mundine (who will rotate as ALP President), and
      said she looked forward to working with them to help Simon
      Crean win the next election.

      * Her role as President is not "to get involved in day to
      day spats about specific policy details".

      <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2002/480/480p7.htm>

      <http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/13/1068674298345.html?from=storyrhs>

      <http://www.sundaytimes.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,7034,7857341%255E2761,00.html>

      So where does this take a left united behind President
      Carmen? Straight behind Crean!!!!

      How does this take the socialist cause forward?

      Peter Boyle
    • paperclay_man
      Despite all the rhetoric we are treated to from the ALP oriented or resident Marxist types, their core ask is for a cheer squad for the Labor party lefts .
      Message 2 of 10 , Nov 17, 2003
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        Despite all the rhetoric we are treated to from the ALP oriented or
        resident Marxist types, their core ask is for a cheer squad for the
        Labor party 'lefts'. That's what it's about. All this crap about
        sectarianism and "workers party" is really a distraction. What is
        being asked of us is unconditional support for the ALP left wing.

        After years of being treated to a compliant and considerate left
        outside the ALP-- primarily in the form of the Aaronite Communist
        Party -- the ALP "lefts" seek a comfortable status quo premissed on
        the undying loyalty from those outside.

        Let's leave aside the question that the formulation of theoretical
        cover was generated by card carrying "Stalinists" and now is
        promulgated by dedicated Trotskyists -- let's not dwell on that
        irony. At fault is this shared impression that the ALP is the party
        of the Australian working class and that anything else--any other
        formation-- is a historical side show.

        But the problem I have with all this stuff is that other than being
        loyal to the ALP what's the strategy? what is the game plan? where
        does it get us? -- except back to square one. It leads no where. It
        is a discussion going around in circles sprinkled with anecdotes and
        occasional mentions of the good old days. Unless the ALP lefts are
        prepared to leave the party as David Spratt has done, as George
        Georges did, etc (and it is a very small 'etcetera') there are simply
        no long term consequences that take us anywhere as we are being asked
        to be loyal time and time again to an ever more right wing social
        democratic (but really bourgeois) program.

        The reality is that over the last thirty years, over the last twenty
        or even over the last ten the ALP left has been routed time and time
        again and they still go around pretending that they have
        credibility. How arrogant is that?

        MT Void
      • Peter Boyle
        ... Exactly! What is the game plan? This is what Carmen Lawrence said on the ABC radio program PM on Thursday, 7 August , 2003: ALEXANDRA KIRK: And do you see
        Message 3 of 10 , Nov 17, 2003
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          paperclay_man wrote:

           But the problem I have with all this stuff is that other than being
          loyal to the ALP what's the strategy? what is the game plan? where
          does it get us? -- except back to square one.  It leads no where.
          Exactly! What is the game plan?

          This is what Carmen Lawrence said on the ABC radio program PM on Thursday, 7 August , 2003:

          ALEXANDRA KIRK: And do you see the ALP Presidency and campaigning for it as a way to redefine Labor values?

          CARMEN LAWRENCE: Look, the real question is giving emphasis to values that are there. I mean, my view has always been that the things that I stand for are the things that members of the Labour Party stand for.

          That was very clear in, for instance, the series of resolutions that were passed around the question of the appropriate policy for asylum seekers. So mine is to simply underline the views of the Party, not to try and push them.

          And my view would be that any President, whoever is elected, should have as their first priority the support and recruitment of members to the Party so we can expand our electoral base, get more ideas and fresh ideas coming into the Party, and show that we are in fact a broad church able to encompass and to support human rights, equality issues and the environment.

          ALEXANDRA KIRK: You have been critical of Simon Crean; do you think that will harm your chances of being elected as ALP President or maybe enhance them?

          CARMEN LAWRENCE: Well, I'm surprised that people actually see it as me being particularly critical of Simon Crean. I was critical of a decision that was made by my Parliamentary colleagues, I was critical of the policy outcome. I've never personalised my criticisms…

          ALEXANDRA KIRK: But they were inherent weren't they? By criticising the way the Party was going it was criticising Simon Crean because he was the Leader.

          CARMEN LAWRENCE: I was criticising what I saw as a trend towards policy decisions which weren't consistent with those of the wider Party. Simon has been no better or worse at that than that than some others and I certainly have not personalised my criticism.

          He's working extremely hard, I think he's getting some good runs on the board against John Howard, particularly drawing attention to his duplicity in a whole range of areas.

          ALEXANDRA KIRK: Wouldn't it be destabilising to Simon Crean's leadership of the Opposition to have you as Party President?

          CARMEN LAWRENCE: Look, if I were to be successful I don't believe so. It would simply indicate that there is a wide range of views within the Labor Party, that we can encompass differing opinions, that we need to in order to properly represent the community of Labor supporters and voters.

          MARK COLVIN: Carmen Lawrence, who's running for President of the Federal ALP, talking to Alexandra Kirk.

          <http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2003/s919741.htm>

          And this is what Wayne Swan said of Carmen Lawrence's election as ALP President:

          JOURNALIST: Are you satisfied with Carmen Lawrence being elected the new national president of the Australian Labor Party?

          SWAN: Oh, certainly. I think Carmen will be a very good president.

          JOURNALIST: Do you think that it could open up leadership wounds within the party considering her views?

          SWAN: No, no, look I don't. Carmen will be a very good President and she will be a steady hand. I've got no concerns about it at all.

          JOURNALIST: …indistinct

          SWAN: I think Carmen will be a great extra-parliamentary leader of the Labor Party. I think her election reflects a democratic process that was well overdue and it's great to see.

          <http://www.alp.org.au/media/1103/20006380.html>
           

        • Sue B.
          Carmen Lawrence also introduced mandatory sentencing in WA. The WA mandatory sentencing regime, like mandatory sentencing in the NT, targeted the most
          Message 4 of 10 , Nov 17, 2003
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            Carmen Lawrence also introduced mandatory sentencing in WA. The WA mandatory sentencing regime, like mandatory sentencing in the NT, targeted the most marginalise people, especially Aborigines.
            Sue Bolton

            Peter Boyle wrote:
            Should the left all unite behind Carmen Lawrence, as Bob
            Gould has argued?

            But what would this mean?

            Carmen Lawrence says:

            * She supports mandatory detention of asylum seekers who
            have made an illegal entry (just they should not be detained
            for as long as they are).

            * She doesn't have a different position to Crean on the Iraq
            occupation.

            * She supports Crean as the ALP leader and congratulated Mr
            Jones and Mr Mundine (who will rotate as ALP President), and
            said she looked forward to working with them to help Simon
            Crean win the next election.

            * Her role as President is not "to get involved in day to
            day spats about specific policy details".

            <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2002/480/480p7.htm>

            <http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/13/1068674298345.html?from=storyrhs>

            <http://www.sundaytimes.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,7034,7857341%255E2761,00.html>

            So where does this take a left united behind President
            Carmen? Straight behind Crean!!!!

            How does this take the socialist cause forward?

            Peter Boyle



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          • kerrvert83
            Peter, I think there are two things that you don t understand when it comes to Australian politics a) It is impossible for open socialists to be popular and
            Message 5 of 10 , Nov 17, 2003
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              Peter,
              I think there are two things that you don't understand when it comes
              to Australian politics

              a) It is impossible for open socialists to be popular and win people
              over to thier ideas
              b) achieving socialism is all about the numbers - simple as that.

              These two combinations mean that any socialist party will never be
              big and will never have any influence BUT the ALP has a lot of
              influence and power and can be won through a simple majority of
              socialists within the membership.

              Sure, its true, every major Social democrat party like the ALP in
              the imperial countries have evolved into the good-looking twin of
              thier neo-liberal sister parties while employing thier policies and
              that they have very bureaucratic internal structures but what is
              your alternative? Revolution? Come on! Look at what happened in
              Russia, in Chile, (Cuba is an anomoly), even Allende was overthrown
              when he went to far. Revolutions just don't work.

              History has shown that workers can never be smart enough to see past
              all of the social-democratic parties, so why try and challenge such
              illusions in them? whats the point if we are talking to idiots?
              anyway even when they are smart enough they are only met with defeat
              after defeat. SO what we must do, is take control of that massive
              machine (which you must admit is full of power, influence and
              *respectability*) and then we're set.

              latin america is the best illustration. The socialists in the Braz
              PT have a massive influence over the policies of the government
              (which have been mainly neo-liberal). In fact, I don't see anywhere
              in Latin America where the independent socialist left is gaining
              influence and power outside of already exisiting social democratic
              parties/formations (the exceptions being the enormous revolutionary
              movements in Venezuela, Colombia, ecudor, El Salvador, Chile,
              Bolivia and Cuba but every rule has exceptions).

              Issues such as the self-transformation of the working class aren't
              really that important, after all Peter Cosgrove seems to be a good
              bloke and I am sure he would never do anything that bad to such a
              respectable party if it tried to nationalise the means of production.

              So then, the real question is how do we win the ALP machine?
              NUMBERS. All we need to do is recruit as many people as we can
              behind Carmen Lawrence and other bolsheviks like her in the
              leadership, and with the high level of democracy inside the ALP we
              will take control.

              After this, Socialism is just around the corner (although we may
              need to make a few comprimises on the way ;) ).

              do you get it now Peter?


              P.S. I found the article in GLW about the SSP on the verge of
              winning railway workers union affiliation very interesting.
            • bairn@iinet.com.au
              Pretty amazing stuff Bob Gould stirs up on this list, people s reactions to Carmen Lawrence are certainly varied. There are the reactions in the posts below
              Message 6 of 10 , Nov 18, 2003
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                Pretty amazing stuff Bob Gould stirs up on this list, people's reactions to Carmen Lawrence are certainly varied.

                There are the reactions in the posts below where she is portrayed as one evil miscreant and then there are other portrayals.

                "Howard's End: Alternatives from the Left (Socialist Alliance meeting)
                featuring Carmen Lawrence, outspoken Labor MP."  Recent flyer for an SA meeting in Victoria.

                Or from D Riley (Socialist Alliance Nat Exec member) on this list last week:
                "Then there are those courageous Labor MPs like Laurence and Quirk who stood up so defiantly against the party machine on the question of the Iraq war... "

                I guess Sue and Peter lost in their fight to stop SA promoting Carmen Lawrence, lost the fight to stop the SA sowing illusions in her and through that, in the ALP.  

                So what's the score?  What's the correct attitude to reformism in the Australian working class?  What's the correct attitude to people who have played a major role in the introduction of mandatory detention.  What give them a platform and eulogies "outspoken Labor MP" "courageous Labor MP".

                Given that GLW is becoming closer to the "official" paper of the SA are we to see articles denouncing the likes of Lawrence in one column and an advert for a SA meeting in another praising her as a darling of the left.

                What a bunch!

                DavidS



                At 02:22 AM 19/11/2003, you wrote:
                   Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 12:47:28 +1100
                   From: Peter Boyle <peterb@...>
                Subject: Carmen Lawrence & the left

                Should the left all unite behind Carmen Lawrence, as Bob
                Gould has argued?

                But what would this mean?

                Carmen Lawrence says:

                * She supports mandatory detention of asylum seekers who
                have made an illegal entry (just they should not be detained
                for as long as they are).

                * She doesn't have a different position to Crean on the Iraq
                occupation.

                * She supports Crean as the ALP leader and congratulated Mr
                Jones and Mr Mundine (who will rotate as ALP President), and
                said she looked forward to working with them to help Simon
                Crean win the next election.

                * Her role as President is not "to get involved in day to
                day spats about specific policy details".

                So where does this take a left united behind President
                Carmen? Straight behind Crean!!!!

                How does this take the socialist cause forward?

                Peter Boyle

                Message: 7
                   Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 03:36:58 -0000
                   From: "paperclay_man" <paperclay_man@...>
                Subject: Re: Carmen Lawrence & the left

                Despite all the rhetoric we are treated to from the ALP oriented or
                resident Marxist types,  their core ask is for a  cheer squad for the
                Labor party  'lefts'. That's what it's about. All this crap about
                sectarianism and "workers party" is really a distraction. What is
                being asked of us is unconditional support for the ALP left wing.

                After years of being treated to a compliant and considerate left
                outside the ALP-- primarily in the form of the Aaronite  Communist
                Party -- the ALP "lefts"  seek a  comfortable status quo premissed on
                the undying loyalty from those  outside.

                Let's leave aside the question that the formulation of theoretical
                cover was generated by card carrying "Stalinists" and now is
                promulgated by dedicated Trotskyists -- let's not dwell on that
                irony.  At fault is this shared impression that the ALP is the party
                of the Australian working class and that anything else--any other
                formation-- is a historical side show.
                 
                But the problem I have with all this stuff is that other than being
                loyal to the ALP what's the strategy? what is the game plan? where
                does it get us? -- except back to square one.  It leads no where. It
                is a discussion going around in circles sprinkled with anecdotes and
                occasional mentions of the good old days. Unless the ALP lefts are
                prepared to leave the party as David Spratt has done, as George
                Georges did, etc (and it is a very small 'etcetera') there are simply
                no long term consequences that take us anywhere as we are being asked
                to be loyal time and time again to an ever more right wing social
                democratic (but really bourgeois) program. 

                The reality is that over the last thirty years, over the last twenty
                or even over the last ten the ALP left has been routed time and time
                again and they still go around pretending that they have
                credibility.  How arrogant is that? 

                MT  Void



                ________________________________________________________________________
                ________________________________________________________________________

                Message: 8
                   Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 14:58:54 +1100
                   From: Peter Boyle <peterb@...>
                Subject: Re: Carmen Lawrence & the left



                paperclay_man wrote:

                >  But the problem I have with all this stuff is that other
                > than being
                > loyal to the ALP what's the strategy? what is the game
                > plan? where
                > does it get us? -- except back to square one.  It leads no
                > where.

                Exactly! What is the game plan?

                This is what Carmen Lawrence said on the ABC radio program
                PM on Thursday, 7 August , 2003:

                ALEXANDRA KIRK: And do you see the ALP Presidency and
                campaigning for it as a way to redefine Labor values?

                CARMEN LAWRENCE: Look, the real question is giving emphasis
                to values that are there. I mean, my view has always been
                that the things that I stand for are the things that members
                of the Labour Party stand for.
                Message: 9
                   Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 16:42:41 +1100
                   From: "Sue B." <sueb@...>
                Subject: Re: Carmen Lawrence & the left
                Carmen Lawrence also introduced mandatory sentencing in WA. The WA mandatory sentencing regime, like mandatory sentencing in the NT, targeted the most marginalise people, especially Aborigines.
                Sue Bolton


                ________________________________________________________________________
                ________________________________________________________________________

                Message: 10
                   Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 05:57:58 -0000
                   From: "kerrvert83" <kerrvert83@...>
                Subject: Re: Carmen Lawrence & the left

                Peter,
                I think there are two things that you don't understand when it comes
                to Australian politics
              • paperclay_man
                ... are we ... an ... left. Yes that s likley true. That s what will happen --and that s the correct procedure. But I think you miss something in the telling.
                Message 7 of 10 , Nov 18, 2003
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                  --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "bairn@i..."
                  <bairn@i...> wrote:
                  >>
                  > Given that GLW is becoming closer to the "official" paper of the SA
                  are we
                  > to see articles denouncing the likes of Lawrence in one column and
                  an
                  > advert for a SA meeting in another praising her as a darling of the
                  left.


                  Yes that's likley true. That's what will happen --and that's the
                  correct procedure. But I think you miss something in the telling. At
                  dispute in this debate is whether the non ALP left should fall in
                  step behind the ALP and make themselves hostage to that perspective
                  OR chart an independent course. If Lawrence does anything good --
                  then it's reasonable to say so as it is tactically smart to give
                  credit where credit is due. It would be absurd to proceed otherwise.
                  If Lawrence will speak on a platform with the non ALP left(and the
                  SA) then that's a good idea sometimes--so long as that platform isn't
                  engineered to accomodate the politics of the ALP. That's what being
                  independent is all about.

                  Similarly just because a union is run by signed up members of the ALP
                  left or their allies it doesn't mean that the non ALP left should NOT
                  organise to unseat that leadership if the issues warrant such a move
                  and the support is there. (eg: the Cameron leadership of the AMWU is
                  a good example, so too is the leadership of the MUA at the present
                  time -- there are unfortunately many examples like this. But these
                  are two cases which have impacted on the activity of Socialist
                  Alliance members).

                  It is primarily an issue of independence. For instance, at dispute in
                  the anti war movements -- most glaringly exemplified by the Sydney
                  experience --is the question of that movement's independence from the
                  ALP.

                  Your examples do have substance too. There WAS an article in GLW
                  recently -- by Brian Webb of the International Socialist Organisation
                  and on the NE of the Alliance --strongly advocating that Lawrence be
                  supported as president of the ALP. OK. That's the ISO's view --and
                  the ISO share, mistakenly I believe, some of the perspectives
                  advocated by the ALP left and tend sometimes to tail end them. But
                  that reflects the essential diversity of the SA project. In the case
                  of the SA, parameters within which it operates relative to the Greens
                  or the ALP have been decided upon by conference and you can check
                  those out on the SA web site. But within that framework it's beholded
                  on the SA to democratically decide how to proceed. What tends to
                  happen is that in practice there is oftentimes general agreement
                  about what to do next.

                  MT Void.
                • alanb1000
                  ... are we ... an ... left. Probably. And many other such contradictions and differences of opinion too. If it didn t, it would be criticised for it. If it
                  Message 8 of 10 , Nov 18, 2003
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                    "bairn@i..." wrote:
                    > Given that GLW is becoming closer to the "official" paper of the SA
                    are we
                    > to see articles denouncing the likes of Lawrence in one column and
                    an
                    > advert for a SA meeting in another praising her as a darling of the
                    left.

                    Probably. And many other such contradictions and differences of
                    opinion too.

                    If it didn't, it would be criticised for it. If it does, it will be
                    criticised for that. You can't win.

                    For what it's worth, my take on the matter would be to work with
                    Carmen Lawrence whenever possible, but to utterly reject the
                    nonsensical "strategic united front" idea.

                    I say it's nonsense because the ALP (or is it just the ALP Left?)
                    would never agree to such an alliance. As a result it could only be
                    unilateral and "from below". In other words, the left would have to
                    subordinate their program to maintaining a "unity" that exists only in
                    their own minds!

                    In any case, don't exaggerate the differences that have been expressed
                    around the issue on this list. There is a mile and a half between the
                    views of Bob Gould and everyone else on this issue, and very little
                    actual difference between all the other posters.

                    Alan Bradley
                  • Peter Boyle
                    ... Yes, and another terrible failing I have is that I just don t have enough RESPECT for the ALP. I just can t get it into my head that the Socialist Alliance
                    Message 9 of 10 , Nov 18, 2003
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                      kerrvert83 wrote:

                       Peter,
                      I think there are two things that you don't understand when it comes
                      to Australian politics...
                      Yes, and another terrible failing I have is that I just don't have enough RESPECT for the ALP. I just can't get it into my head that the Socialist Alliance is just a GNAT compared to the mass workers party of the ALP. I just don't understand that the Stop the War Coalition should not warmly invite ALP MOs who speak out against the occupation/Bush visit on to come onto to platforms but that it should BEG and GROVEL and say please, please o mighty representatives of the working class, please grace us with oyour presence on our humble gnat platforms. I can't get it into my ignorant skull that the united front approach is to to beg that the Laborites who split the anti-war coalition in Sydney to reunite at any cost, perhaps even at the coast of the movement opposing the increasingly brutal occupation of Iraq, but certainly at the cost of democracy in the movement as we know that they womn't come in unless they are guaranteed the final say in everything. I can't get it into my head (hopelessly mired as it is in another planet) that it is the RIGHT of the Laborites to run any movement committee autocratically because they ARE the representatives of the working class. (Peter Murphy has tried his best to explain the "correct way of working with the Labor movement" to the "Trots" but some of us don't get it!)

                      I am a hopeless case. My stupid-dumb-brainwashed head cannot get itself around the awe-inspiring FACT that the ALP has "chronically" obtained between 38-40% of the vote in elections. I keep seeking solace in the word of the likes of Alan Ramsey in today's Sydney Morning Herald that:

                      "Labor's primary vote is wallowing something around a quarter of a million votes below the 2001 election outcome, which in turn was its worst popular vote since 1931."

                      "federal Labor's standing with voters is more diminished than in 72 years under 10 previous leaders"

                      <http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/18/1069027116956.html>

                      I keep kidding myself that many of these people who vote for the ALP only do it because it is the slightly lesser evil of two capitalist parties essentially sharing the same neo-liberal, pro-imperialist policy. But what else do you expect who a ignorant, brainwashed, Cannonite-Zinovievist robot???

                      Silly me, I keep rejoicing when the workers vote against great ALP leaders in the trade unions, like Doug Cameron of the AMWU, for a more militant alternative, such as the latest news from the Qld election that Workers Unity member and Socialist Alliance supporter Danny Doherty has won the election for Qld secretary of the printing division of the AMWU in QLD -- the first member of Workers Unity to be elected to a position in the union.

                      Danny won the postal ballot of around 1,200 members comfortably, with 62% of the vote in a two-horse race against his opponent, an incumbent bureaucrat and Doug Cameron supporter. There was a high turnout to vote: 50%, compared with the typical 20-25% in the QLD AMWU.

                      But this is just typical arrogant and triumphalist carry on that TOTALLY EXCUSES the supporters of Doug Cameron for their Grouper-style red-baiting of the Workers Unity candidates.

                      And even more idiotically I hang on to the pathetic illusion that through discussion and collective experience the various political tendencies in the Socialist Alliance can come to a common working position on how socialists should relate to the ALP.

                      Enough said. I apologise for my profound ignorance and foolhardiness and promise to learn better from certain elders with longer and more profound experience in politics.

                      Peter the Humbled Socialist Gnat Boyle

                       

                    • Brisbane Activist Centre
                      Don t whip yourself too hard Peter, you re in good company. This is what Lenin had to say about the British Labour Party in 1920 at the second congress of the
                      Message 10 of 10 , Nov 18, 2003
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                        Don't whip yourself too hard Peter, you're in good company.
                         
                        This is what Lenin had to say about the British Labour Party in 1920 at the second congress of the Communist International:
                         
                        "Of course, most of the Labour Party's members are working men. However, whether or not a party is really a political party of the workers does not depend solely upon a membership of workers but also upon the men that lead it, and the content of its actions and its political tactics. Only this latter determines whether we really have before us a political party of the proletariat. Regarded form this, the only correct point of view, the Labour Party is a thoroughyl bourgeois party, because, although made up of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that, who act in the spirit of the bourgeoisie. It is an organisation of the bourgeoisie, which exists to systematically dupe the workers..."
                         
                        Well Bob Gould's had almost a century on Lenin to come to the same conclusion, but he hasn't. Just more slavish cringing and apologies for ALP betrayals. 
                         
                        Anyway, gnats (and sandflies, and mosquitos) play an important ecological role. They make life miserable for powerful creatures, and sometimes end up killing them.
                         
                        Marce Cameron.   
                         

                        Enough said. I apologise for my profound ignorance and foolhardiness and promise to learn better from certain elders with longer and more profound experience in politics.

                        Peter the Humbled Socialist Gnat Boyle

                         

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