What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today? Essay five

As members of the Liberal Democrats, we often hear the claim that we already live in a liberal country. Liberalism is mainstream, we’re told, across our communities and our political parties. In fact, the argument goes, we live in one of the most liberal societies in the world.

After all, every major party supported gay marriage, the gender gap is narrowing, and even the old class system is slowly, slowly, so painfully slowly on the wane.

The state’s attempts to impinge on privacy are rebutted time and time again – or have been up until now – we keep spending on international development even when we’re hurting at home, and each Parliament is more diverse than the last.

We have much to be proud of, and rightly so.

But in a truly Liberal Britain, there would be as many women sitting round the directors’ table as men. The best pupils from our state schools and from our private schools would have the same chances at Oxbridge and beyond. Our police would look just like the people they work so hard to serve – as would our soldiers, and as would our politicians.

In a Liberal Britain, migration wouldn’t be a source of fear, it would be a source of pride. Immigrants would be celebrated for strengthening our economy, enriching our society and invigorating our culture. British values would amount to more than a ‘No Vacancies’ sign on the door, they would be globalist, welcoming, caring, just.

Companies that pay their fair share would be celebrated, child poverty would not just be measured but eradicated, and the terminally ill could choose dignity over suffering, in their own time, in their own way.

A Liberal Britain would not only take its fair share of refugees, but make the case that our neighbours should do the same. A Liberal Britain would lead internationally, championing multi-lateral nuclear disarmament, Security Council reform, the rule of law, and the supremacy of human rights. But a Liberal Britain would never use arms to spread its values, only to defend those who can’t defend themselves.

Above all, Liberal Britain wouldn’t scaremonger, wouldn’t pit Us against Them, and wouldn’t seek to profit from division and discord. A Liberal Britain would give everyone a fair chance, be unafraid to put trust in the goodness of ordinary people, and be unafraid to call to account those who abuse that trust.

We’re not there. We’re not even close.

As Lib Dems, we believe that Britain’s not Liberal enough. This is what we’re about. This is why we’re here. It’s time we made sure people knew it.

But at election time this year, we didn’t manage to do so.

There were many reasons that the general election turned out as it did. On May 8th Nick Clegg told us that fear was to blame, and he was right. But hope played just as important a part.

It was hope that took votes from the Lib Dems: Ed Miliband’s hope that shackling business would help the poor; the Greens’ hope that uncoupling ourselves from our addiction to economic growth would deliver social justice; the SNP’s hope that a fiscally empowered Scotland could abandon austerity.

Each of these visions is as misleading as it is inspirational.

The general election amounted to a choice between a pair of firm Tory hands on the reins and the whip alike, and myriad loose notions of where we ought to be heading – but never how to get there.

That gap represents a gulf in British politics, and one that has only widened since the election. There is no serious, inspirational, practical-minded party of principle in Britain’s opposition. There is no party that makes voters feel listened to, trusts its instincts, and speaks honestly, bravely and above all responsibly about how to deliver equality, liberty and prosperity to Britain.

This is natural territory for the Lib Dems.

It was the Lib Dems in government that softened austerity, and by so doing eased the brakes on the economy. It was the Lib Dems that defended civil liberties, championed employees’ rights, protected immigrant children from routine detention, and spared the UK’s three million lowest earning workers from paying income tax. It’s a record to be proud of, and the reason why I decided to become a member.

But no matter how strong those achievements, we are out of government because – just like today’s insurgent parties – we offered hopes that we couldn’t deliver.

The election result may seem bitterly unfair. But when seen through the lens of the anger, the disillusionment, the sense of betrayal – perhaps in one sense we deserved it. After all, we lost the most important thing we had: the trust of our supporters.

It is only by facing up to this hard truth that we can seize the opportunity in front of us. Until we do so, to be a liberal today is to be lost, directionless, unrepresented.

The Liberal Democrats haven’t provided the leadership that liberals across the country need. We haven’t carved out a ground that is ours, developed a distinctive vision, or convinced liberals that we’re the party for them.

Liberals see the country that gave birth to liberalism rejecting refugees and asylum seekers because ‘the country’s full’. They see the supposedly ‘liberal’ wing of the Conservative Party champion the old over the young and the well-heeled over the well-trodden.

Now’s the time to show Britain’s despairing liberals that we’re the party for them. Now’s the time to provide that leadership.

But we’ll only do it by painting a clear picture of the society we want to build. If we want to lead amongst liberals, we need to tell them – confidently and clearly – exactly what a 21st century Liberal Britain should look like, and how far we’ve strayed from that vision.

It’s time we meant sure than being a liberal meant being a Liberal Democrat.

What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today? Essay four

To be a Liberal Democrat is to believe in freedom.

Freedom grounded in real life, starting with people as they are. Not ‘The People’. Not ‘Our People’. Freedom based on the unique worth and potential of every individual person, and the understanding that the person who knows best how to live their life is themselves.

Liberal Democrats feel in our guts that everyone should be free to live their own life, that pushing people about and telling them what to do or who to be is wrong. We feel in our guts that everyone should have a fair chance, that prejudice and lack of opportunity are wrong. We feel in our guts the need for a better future, that piling up today’s problems for our kids to deal with tomorrow is wrong. But politics isn’t just about gut feelings and protesting when things aren’t right. We must look at how things really are to work out how to change them, and change our own methods if experience shows us better ways to achieve our ideals. So Liberal Democrats are principle-led, but evidence-based.

Liberal Democrats believe freedom needs both positive help to make it real for everyone, and action to break down barriers to freedom such as poverty, ignorance and conformity. Education is the single most crucial way to combine both. A great education ensures everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential, whatever their background, whatever their choices. Every child getting the best education is central to them growing up with the freedom to live their own lives. If you’re for every person, and you want every person to have the ability to ask the important questions and make their own informed decisions in realising their own dreams, education is where it starts. If you want an economy growing and succeeding with innovation and creativity and where the most talented get ahead, instead of just the most wealthy, education, training and apprenticeships are where it starts.

A fairer society and a greener, stronger economy are interdependent. A Liberal Democrat government would encourage fairness and economic responsibility: an economy that works, that encourages enterprise, and where everyone pays their fair share; sustainable, both environmentally and financially; thriving within an outward-looking, optimistic society that’s open-minded, open-hearted and open to co-operating with other countries to tackle climate change, promote peace and increase prosperity for our whole planet’s future.

Flowing from the starting point that we should be for everyone and that everyone should be free, Liberal Democrats understand that individual people choose to come together in any number of complementary ways – families, jobs, mutual interests, neighbourhoods, nations, the whole human family – and that decisions can be made at any of those levels without excluding the others. That’s why we’ve always been both the most localist and the most internationalist party. Any political party defining itself by just one single identity or community and telling each individual that your birth or your faith or your cash or your class or your country is the only thing that counts doesn’t just diminish people’s lives and hopes, doesn’t just make society smaller, meaner and more divided, but is the mark of a party that’s so stupidly stuck in its own prejudices that it has no idea how real people’s real lives work.

Conrad Russell vividly described ‘standing up to bullies’ as what Liberalism is for. That’s why a Liberal’s gut instinct is to side with the underdog – whoever the bully is and whoever the underdog is at any one time. Any sort of power can threaten liberty, but any sort of power can defend it, too. Whether it’s the state, or big business or big unions, or just other people, any of them can boss you around and anyone can help stop you being bossed around. So Liberals wouldn’t label any of them ‘the enemy’ or do away with any of them – just as we won’t say any of them are right all the time. A government that bosses you around or that only protects one special interest or only picks on another is just a bigger bully, but when it acts fairly it can also help restrain bullies, from thieves and murderers to officious communities and bad employers.

So if the starting point is people, what’s the end point? Get real! If you start with people you never say ‘that’s it!’ Whether it’s a grandiose utopia that you’ll never finish building or a thousand mean little targets to tick, imaginary end points have two things in common. Believing the ‘ends’ justify the means, they throw real people under the bus, seeing individuals only as statistics or as problems. And they never work. A Liberal society isn’t a perfect society, because there aren’t any perfect people, and certainly aren’t perfect politicians – but an open, untidy society that develops constantly in response to the individuals who form it has the advantage of being about real life. Liberals don’t say ‘We know best’, because everyone’s best is different.

To be a Liberal Democrat is to be wary of grand plans and little prejudices. To say of human nature, ‘It’s complicated’. Anyone might be kind or selfish, creative or lazy, successful or failing. Other parties see that as a reason to control people, because they believe people who disagree with them can’t be trusted with freedom, and they think ‘their people’ will want to do what they tell them anyway. To fear pluralism, diversity, flexibility and individuality. Liberal Democrats have two answers to that (or the instinctive two-word answer ending in ‘off’). Our fear is more that if a government makes a mistake in its giant one-life-fits-all authoritarianism, it’s going to be a doozy. And our hope, based on realism, is that the more different ideas run free, the more brilliant, practical ones will succeed.

To be a Liberal Democrat is to embrace the contradictions – because people are contradictory. Because only one idea has room for how messy, contradictory and wonderful real life and real people are. Freedom.

What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today? Essay three

What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat?

It starts with you.

It starts with you and your family.

It starts with you and your family and your friends.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community and your society.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community and your society and your world.

It starts with you and your family and your friends and your community and your society and your world and your future.

It starts with you.

It’s not about doing it for you. It’s certainly not about doing it to you. It’s about giving you the power to do what you want for yourself.

It means that we have to listen, to understand, to weigh the evidence. And then build the bridges that will let you get where you want to go, and knock down the barriers that are in your way.

You want a better job and a better life? That’s why we’ll give you access to education. Ill-health holding you back? That’s why we’ll make sure the health service is there for you. Crushed into inadequate housing, or no house at all? That’s why we should build properly affordable homes, and the schools, surgeries and amenities that go with them. A lack of opportunities? That’s why we need to shape an economy that works. Trapped by poverty? That’s why we founded the welfare state.

It starts with your family.

Liberalism is about bringing people together, however you want to define your family. We are on a route to equal marriage, to recognising, valuing, protecting and not interfering in all the different ways that people can make their lives together. If you need protection, we should care for you; if you need support, we should be there for you; but if you want us to let you be, we should let you be.

The freedom for you and your family to be yourselves, in whatever diverse, wonderful, ordinary or extraordinary way you choose to be, is enshrined in our constitution and in our hearts. Believe what you want to believe; love who you want to love; and do no harm.

It starts with your community.

Your community is where you make your life, whether it’s your neighbourhood, or your interest groups or your workplace or even your online spaces. That’s why we are the original community activists, that’s why we’re always there, asking you what you want, offering to help, putting pressure on those with power.

That’s why we support community regeneration, and neighbourhood action, and places for the young and the old and wherever you are in between, and local banking, and small businesses that are the bedrock of the economy from your old family trades to your new tech start-ups. That’s why we’re out there with that petition about that thing that’s bothering you. That’s why we need to be where you live, whether it’s helping out at the food bank or tending the flowers in the best-kept village or cheering on the (women’s) football team. We are there with you.

It starts with your society.

Because we know we don’t live in a fair society. And we will fight to stop it getting worse, not better. Because the people who have most power and privilege are gaming the system to get more, and leaving the rest behind. And that is not acceptable. The status quo is not acceptable. And that’s why we have to intervene, to change things, to bring fairness back, to give you the opportunity to make your own and your family’s lives better.

Your chances in life should not be determined at birth, by your DNA, by where you are born, or your parents’ bank balance, or your gender, or your colour or who you will love. You should have the freedom to make the life you want.

And so we are open to the movement of people, welcoming to others, because they make our society richer, materially and culturally. You should not be afraid for your job or services; so we should make sure there’s enough to go around.

But power doesn’t belong to us. Or to any politician. Or to corporations. Or to newspaper barons. It belongs to you. Our job, our only job, is to take power from the powerful and give it back to you.

It starts with your world.

Because your world is wonderful and we should cherish it. You and we are only the custodians of this Earth for a short time. If we consume too much of it, then you or your children or your children’s children will eventually be without. That’s why we have a duty to use this world gently and sustainably. That’s why we are the original green party. That’s why we’ve done more to create a green economy, to generate more clean, green energy, to save you more money with greener buildings than any other party. Ever.

It starts with your future.

We believe in the future; we embrace creativity and innovation. You shouldn’t have to fear the future, no one should be enslaved by poverty in old age and that’s why we believe in good fair pensions. You should have dreams for your children. That’s why we prioritise spending on their education, so that they will have all the opportunities you had and more, so that the future that they choose to build will be one with a stronger, greener, fairer economy. That’s why we protect the environment, so that you will have a future to enjoy.

We believe that your future can be better, that you don’t have to be enslaved by the failures of the past, that any future you want is possible. Together, we can make it possible.

It starts with you.

So what do you want to do about it?

What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today? Essay two

Liberal Democrats want to give more freedom to everyone to enable them to live their own lives. However, we also know that freedom for individuals is not enough, and that it must be combined with breaking down the unaccountable powers of the state, in the economy and in society, to enable individuals to fully use their freedom. We live in a world where there is more power to affect the lives of individuals than there ever has been, and by focusing on freeing people from historic controls we are cutting the strings and chains that tie them down, but ignoring the new ropes and cables that bind them even tighter.

To be a Liberal Democrat is to recognise that power has to exist, but that where it does exist it must be accountable. We are not opposed to the existence of power, and recognise that it is needed to build, maintain and develop the society we live in, but we recognise that power needs to be controlled. Freedom is not simply removing a power over someone, freedom is giving people the ability to participate in power.

Liberals understand that power comes in many different forms and that the power of the state is just one of them. Indeed, it may be the weakest power of all because the concept of state power being accountable to those it affects is widely accepted, even if not regularly seen in practice. As liberals, we can spend far too much time getting upset about the minutiae of the use and misuse of state power while ignoring unaccountable power in society and the economy.

As Liberal Democrats we often eagerly point to how we believe that ‘no one should be enslaved by conformity’, but without focusing on how we make that happen in reality. We need to recognise that just saying oppression and enforced conformity is bad is not enough. Identifying it should be just the first step, and we need to be prepared to discuss how we as Liberal Democrats are actually going to take on the unaccountable power and privilege that causes so much harm in our society, including within our own party. To be a Liberal Democrat today should be to understand that just telling someone they are free isn’t enough; it’s about standing with them to challenge the power and privilege that oppresses them.

Liberalism is internationalist at its heart, recognising that everyone deserves the same rights and respect no matter where they live, what language they use or who their parents were. People working together across national borders have achieved some of the greatest liberal successes of the last century, from eradicating diseases to ending apartheid, but we need to ensure that liberal and internationalist values remain for the centuries to come. There is a great power in people acting together through global institutions, and we need to ensure that power is accountable and effective to achieve future liberal goals across the planet, and even beyond it.

To be a Liberal Democrat today should also be to understand the danger of unaccountable economic power. We need to deal with the new concentrations of unaccountable power within the economy that have massive effects on people’s lives that they can do nothing about. Free trade was a means to an end, ensuring that the poorest in society would be able to afford to eat, but we have turned it into an end in itself, regardless of the effect it has on people. We talk of trade between nations and empowering individuals, ignoring the vast unaccountable powers of corporations and how they take away freedom and choice from individuals, concentrating economic power amongst an unaccountable elite.

Liberalism is about people, and we need to create a world where the economy works for the benefit of the people, not one where people work for the benefit of the economy. We need to fight for education systems that develop people as individuals, not merely as future workers; for social security that concentrates on supporting people, not subsidising employers; and for an economy that liberates people to spend more time doing what they want, where everyone’s abilities and contributions to society are welcomed.

Beyond the state, society and the economy, there is a further power that we must address: our environment. This is a different order of power, where climate change is capable of destroying everything our society is based on, rendering liberalism and every other ideology meaningless. And yet, it is vital that we understand that a liberal response to this crisis is necessary because only through liberalism and recognising the value of every life on this planet can we build a global response. Liberalism is international by instinct, seeing potential in every person, and that international instinct is also environmental, recognising that we need to protect our planet to ensure that it’s not just us who get the chance to live the lives we want, but all the generations still to come. Human survival is important, and we increase our chances of that survival by giving people reasons to believe in a better tomorrow.

To be a Liberal Democrat today is to recognise that liberals have made a start in tackling these unaccountable powers in the state, in society and in the economy, but it is only a start and there is so much more work to be done. The fight for liberalism is not a new one; it has taken many forms and many different names over the years, but at its heart it has always sought to break up power, to make it accountable, and to give all the chance to live the life they wish. To be a Liberal Democrat is to want to take power from the unaccountable and let people use it for themselves because that’s the only way we can create a world for everyone.

What does it mean to be a Liberal Democrat today? Essay one

Some things do not change. Liberalism is always, everywhere, about freedom. Historically this was freedom from – from political or religious authority; from the king, the church, or foreign power. In the West many such freedoms have been won, or re-won. But, though freer, are we free from want and sickness, custom and convention, from the pressure of the norm, from worry, fear and hate, from ignorance and prejudice? There are many battles still to be fought.

The test for a liberal is always freedom for an individual, not a sect or class, nor group nor gender, but freedom for the person, however they term themselves. We judge our freedoms by ever-changing benchmarks; as each summit is reached we see distant horizons, further freedoms beckon. Gaining political freedom, we seek social, sexual, economic freedoms now. We are ambitious for ourselves. We treasure personal liberties. Being free, growing in freedom, is a process, not an achievement; a journey, not an ending.

But even as we reach for new freedoms, our old ones are constantly under threat. Truly, ‘the price of freedom is eternal vigilance’. Are we free, politically, if government can view our every digital secret? Are we free when subject to the agendas of the media, or the power of corporations? Are we free to breathe clean air when companies disguise emissions data? Are we free when governments are economical with the truth, or conceal, or mislead, or lie? Are we free when facts are withheld, or figures massaged or protest kettled? Are we free against the onslaught of advertisers? Are we free from the dictates of fashion and beauty? Are we free in a fog of created needs? And, at the end, are you free to die as you wish – or do you have to go to a foreign land to do so? Our freedoms are still fragile, incomplete; they will always call upon liberalism. The dragons are never slain.

But liberalism is ever optimistic; it is driven by hope. We wish for freedom for and freedom to. And liberals always will, always should, shoulder responsibility. With freedom comes the knowledge that freedoms clash. So we learn to respect the freedom of others; we make a virtue of tolerance. We recognise responsibility: responsibility for ourselves, for each other, for animals, the natural world, our shared and finite planet. Responsibility has a so much wider reach than that of rights. Responsibility is self-critical, generous, tolerant, far-sighted. Responsibility grows.

Because freedom is not about just claiming rights. It is recognising that freedoms for others may demand restraint in us. And self-denial frees us from our selfish selves. A social life is not just me; but us, together. In a world of finite resources, freedom has to be more than self-indulgence; it has to be self-knowing, so that we are aware of consequence, anxious of effect, sensitive to difference. Being selfless brings its own rewards. Shouldering responsibilities is, like liberalism itself, a process. Some we have, or learn, from our earliest years. Some we acquire, with knowledge and controversy, age and experience. As we grow into a sense of our place in the world, so we can embrace a mutual aid. We trade in freedoms for common advantage. We compromise the I for Us, and feel the richer for it. Ask any parent.

But haven’t we achieved all necessary freedoms? For which, some questions! Would you trust government with your data? Are businesses always honourable? Are women free from glass ceilings? Are minorities free from discrimination? Are hate and bigotry, ignorance and prejudice banished from history? Are people celebrated and loved whether fat or thin, old or ugly, weak or disabled, frail – in body or mind?

And so we reach a cherished child of liberalism – education – the hope that knowledge, ideas, argument, debate, can widen our outlook, increase understanding, deepen our tolerance. Nothing can be more effective against bias or belief. A broad, thought-provoking education prompts each of us to reflect at length, to take account, to value difference, to choose with care. It tears down ignorance, tears up prejudice and hate. It fosters friendship, kindles kindness. The playground breaks down barriers more effectively than any adult endorsement, any official policy.

So where are we liberals today? We are still right to resist the over-mighty state, whether of the authoritarian right or socialist left. In a complex modern economy the tentacles of government reach everywhere. Regulation touches every aspect of our lives: how we live, how we school our young, how we endure sickness, how we travel, how we play, how we eat and drink, and how we die. Liberals distrust government, even when they aspire to it. They wish to devolve and disperse and diffuse power; they favour variety, diversity, over uniformity. Liberals are driven by the urge to be free – from authority, however exercised, from power, wherever imposed, from convention, whenever felt. For the liberal the journey is always towards freedom, so that individuals can enjoy, for each their brief allotted span, the fullest, most fulfilling life.

For oppression is not just political – it can be economic. How are we free if the rich are always freer – from want, from injustice, from punishment? If wealth was only ever obtained by graft, the industry, invention of the individual, it would be difficult to rail against. But it is also inherited, enhanced, protected, preserved by all the invisible networks of birth and power. This cannot sit easily on a liberal conscience. We feel an imperative to break down privilege, redistribute wealth, provide good housing, hospitals and schools for all. We wish to defend our freedoms but reduce our social, economic and regional imbalances. Why? Because if we are not fair, how can we be free?

Stephen Worrall – High Peak

I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2011, having voted for them in 2009 and 2010 in Local, National and European elections. To me liberty and freedom of the individual are of the absolute, utmost importance and to this day the Liberal Democrats are the only party that truly and honestly believe in those ideals. They believe that everyone should be free to live their lives as they see fit providing they are not harming others. People should be free from harassment, free from intimidation and free from excessive government interference in their lives. Only the Liberal Democrats truly believe that we are all equal and that is why you should join.

Martin Kyrle – Eastleigh

Martin Kyrle joined the Liberals fresh out of university, primarily because the party supported proportional representation without which, in his opinion, no country is a true democracy no matter how many elections it has. As he explains, he saw no point in belonging to something unless one also took some interest in what it did, and little by little he got drawn into becoming a Liberal activist. Over half a century later he still is.

The Liberals in Hampshire – a Part(l)y History Part 1: Southampton 1958-65 and The Liberals in Hampshire – a Part(l)y History Part 2: Eastleigh 1965-72 by Martin Kyrle are priced at £5 and £6. Orders should be emailed to martinkyrle@fsmail.net.

Dave Raval – Leicester East

I was a bit of a late starter in politics. I deliberately didn’t get involved at university and I thought I ought to go out and learn a bit about life first, so I got my degree, got a job and lived abroad.

Then a few years later, at a General Election back in the UK, I bought the manifestos of the three major parties, plus the Greens, and read them from cover to cover. The Lib Dems stood out for me as the most well thought-through, most honest and most sensible manifesto of them all, and I signed up. Things that swung it for me included equality, the environment and economic credibility.

I never expected to stand for Parliament. I thought I’d leave that to ‘politicians’. But the more I saw of the Lib Dems, the more I realised that they were just normal people who believed in something and wanted to make a difference. So I got involved in local politics, then national politics, and now I’m a Parliamentary Candidate.

At the end of the day, you can spend your life talking (or moaning) about things, but nothing changes unless people actually try do something different, and stand up for what they believe in. So that’s what motivates me.

Janice Spalding – Basingstoke

I had voted Liberal since I had been able to vote as I watched a party political broadcast where the party was not rooted into one ideology or another, choosing whatever fits best. On joining the party ten years ago I have learned it is the only party that allows its members to propose party policy and really debate it at conference. So it genuinely is a People’s party funded by its’ members.

If I hear that we abandoned our principles to form a coalition with the conservatives – I say remember what a mess the economy was in, and that we knew a stable Government would be good for business and that’s why we did it – not for the good of the party, for the good of the country. And I can honestly say no other party would do that, and if you look at the smaller parties they are all saying now that wouldn’t form a coalition as they fear they would get hit by losing councillors in the forthcoming years. They would agree each policy one by one. So there would be no plan – and they say in business fail to plan, plan to fail.

Robert Swift – Gedling

I came from the SDP and therefore became a LibDem when the party was formed in 1988.

It always seemed so obvious to me that the choice of two opposite parties based an outdated class conflict, urban/rural north/south split was no way to run a country. Politics should be firmly rooted in the centre, in common sense and consensus.

I have been through the lows and the highs, building things up from when we were the Social and Liberal Democrats, with 6.2% of the vote in the 1989 Euro Elections, right up until 2010 when we finally entered government under the leadership of Nick Clegg. What people should understand is that the LibDems are hardy folk who are used to fighting for every vote. We don’t have safe seats and unlike Labour and Conservative we don’t believe in simply sitting back and waiting for the other one to mess things up so we get our turn. LibDem councillors and MPs work far harder than the other parties for this reason. There is no sense of entitlement here and if we take a knock this election or any election then we will listen and learn and build it back up again!