Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated

According to David Torrance writing in Monday’s Herald newspaper, it’s all over for a Yes movement that has now fallen apart. Well he would say that, wouldn’t he. Reports of the Yes movement’s death have been greatly exaggerated. What has happened is that during the summer silly season when there’s relatively little in the way of proper politics going on, certain people in the Yes movement have been indulging in a round of mutual arguments on Twitter.  Having arguments is one of the few things that Twitter is any good for.

Torrance makes the fundamental error of confusing what happens on Twitter with the independence movement as a whole. The truth is that the great majority of Yes supporters neither use Twitter nor give a toss about who has been falling out with whom on a social media platform which is incapable of expressing nuance. You don’t get rational debate in 140 characters. You get snark, cat gifs, one liners, arguing about the fitba, and updates on the latest goings on in the Big Brother house.

There are no reliable figures for the number of Twitter users in Scotland. Twitter is, perhaps understandably, reluctant to publish figures – after all their advertising revenues depend on it. Even so, it is possible to come up with an estimate, and that estimate turns out to be considerably fewer than the number of people who reported themselves as Scots speakers in the last census.

This page gives an estimate of 15 million registered Twitter accounts in the UK. A percentage of those will be bots. This page estimates that around 15% of accounts are bots. We can use those two estimates as a starting point. These pages also inform us that 43% of accounts haven’t been active for over a year, and only 29% use Twitter daily. That gives 4,364,000 daily Twitter users in the UK. Removing the 15% which are bots leaves 3,709,000. It seems plausible that the percentage of daily users who are bots will be higher than the overall percentage of all users who are bots – but I don’t have any figures for that.

8.25% of the population of the UK is in Scotland, so that gives a figure of 306,000 daily users of Twitter in Scotland. This is considerably fewer than the 1.54 million who recorded themselves as Scots speakers in the 2011 census. A considerable, but unknown, number of Twitter users don’t use Twitter for engaging in Scottish political debate. I’d stick my neck out and say that it’s the great majority of Twitter users. Obsessing over politics is very much a minority pursuit. It’s the kind of thing indulged in by people who struggle to get laid. They don’t call politics the only shot at celebrity for ugly people for nothing you know.

Most of the Scottish Twitterati make use of the platform for the aforementioned snark, cat gifs, one liners, arguing about the fitba, and updates on the latest goings on in the Big Brother house. The number of people in Scotland who use Twitter for engaging in the independence debate is going to be much smaller. That means that in terms of seeking an impact on the wider debate on Scottish independence, ye’ll hae a damn sicht mair effeck oan whit fowk think bi screivin in Scots nor ye wid bi yuisin Twitter. In fact you’ll probably have more influence on the cause of neo-eisimeileachd na h-Alba le sgrìobhadh sa’ Ghàidhlig. And that will still hold true even if you are quite a bit more mature than Ross Greer. Which to be strictly factual about it, is the great majority of us.

Twitter is a wee bubble. It’s a much weer bubble than Scots language users and we’re always being told that the Scots language is a tiny and insignificant niche. Reporting on a Twitter spat between certain independence supporters and then claiming that it’s all over for the Yes movement is a bit like claiming that just because your uncle got drunk at your cousin’s wedding and threw up all over your other uncle’s best suit that the entire concept of family is now dead for everyone. It might be the end for your uncle’s suit, but only if your uncle has never heard of dry cleaning.

If you really want to witness poisonous interpersonal disputes, you only have to look at the Conservative party. David Davis hates everyone, everyone hates Michael Gove, Boris Johnson is incapable of getting though a week without pissing off the entire population of some important EU state, and the only reason that Theresa May is still in her job is because no one wants to take the blame when the chlorinated chickens of Brexit come home to roost. Yet no one, least of all David Torrance, claims that it’s all over for the Tory party.

Doubtless much the dismay of David and his Tory wishful thinking, the Yes movement is very much alive and kicking. If you lift your eyes beyond the Twitter bubble, and go and meet people involved in the grassroots movement, as I do, you’ll find a vibrant, enthused and committed campaign. For the past year and more I’ve been travelling the length and breadth of this country, talking to people in local Yes Groups, SNP branches, and Commonweal groups. I’ve covered the country from Orkney and Thurso to Stranraer and Duns and all points in between. There is no sign that anyone’s appetite for Scottish independence is diminished any. Invitations to come and speak to local groups keep coming in.

Despite the occasional fall out due to interpersonal issues, the independence movement is stronger than it ever was. There is now a growing consensus within the Yes movement that this is no longer a debate about whether Scotland should become an independent country, it’s now a debate about when Scotland should become an independent country. The real impending doom is for a United Kingdom that has lost its way, is lurching towards a Brexit without a plan, without a clue, and without any UK political party that is prepared to put the interests of the country before its own narrow sectional interests. It’s not the independence movement which is destroying itself, it’s the United Kingdom. Scotland needs the independence movement now more than it ever did, and those of us involved in it are not going away. Sorry David.

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0 thoughts on “Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated

  1. Brilliant writing, as always. Absolutely spot on. The twiiter spats area ll so many storms in teacups.

    What do the British nationalists have which can any thing close to Paul’s razor sharp wit and forensic analysis?

    They have nothing.

    Meanwhile the Brexit storm approaches, Tick. Tock ‘British’ nationalism.Tick Tock

    • No doubt there are people as sharp and analytic but what they don’t have is a cause other than self preservation and no way of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

    • No doubt they have plenty with similar wit and analytical skills but nothing to defend ‘cept self preservation.

      Scotland being a part of the UK is no longer an option, they know it as well as us.

  2. Very well put as usual . Out here in the sticks during the Indyref I was not aware there was a Yes group on the island but found the Wings website and through it this site. I was kindly sent a Wee Bluebook which several friends and family read and after a visit to Yes Oban collected 20 more and some other goodies. During the campaign I wore a Yes badge to shows and sales and if anyone commented on it I would have a conversation and if they were interested offer them a WBB. One person following indyref got back to me to say they had gone from No to Yes as a result of our conversation. I had never heard of Bella , Commonspace or any of the blogs and celebs that are now telling us all what the Yes movement must do. The Yes movement is a broad church and the Twitter spat is not important and reminds me of student politics back in the late 70s and is about as important. My point is the strength of the Yes movement is the wee guy working away for Indy not some grand strategy put forward by some self styled guru or snarky twitter user. If a few more of us had just manged to turn one voter from No to Yes last time out we wouldnt be having this spat but given the nature of a few of those involved they would find another cause to shout about.

  3. Brilliant , as was Being Exceptional and all other pieces – don’t know what I’d do without you popping up in my inbox.

    The only thing I take exception to is the ‘Sorry David’ – I don’t think he warrants an apology even in jest.

  4. Using facts and logic to demolish a Unionist viewpoint? You’ll be doing Reverend Stu out of a job next. 😉

  5. Thank you for putting everything back into perspective for me Paul. Another excellent piece.

    I wonder how many others have done as I did and Googled your bit of Gaelic for a translation lol!

  6. If there weren’t a David Torrance, there would be no need to invent one, nor a Hutcheon, Gordon, Gardham, Clegg, Carrell, MacIntosh, Crichton, and Brewer.
    When Scotland becomes Self Determining once again, which will surely be within the Article 50 window now, what purpose will these Dead Tree Scrolls Unionist scribble whores serve?
    I have cautioned before that there are only so many vacancies on the Findo Gask Advertiser.
    What of the snappers who congregate around Davidson as she tip toes through the tulips grinning chubbily?
    The Herald Britalnd must be on its last legs now.
    Nobody under 30 is buying a Dead Tree Scroll nowadays.
    All I’ve got to say on this, really.
    You are correct, Paul, the Yes Movement is slowly but surely gathering, ready to act when the financial, social, economic and political suicide that is Brexit is finally revealed.
    We go in Oct ’18, IMHO.
    I’m sure greeting cards companies will be recruiting when Scotland is once again a Free Nation.
    Roes are red, violets are blue, I was a Yoon, were you?

      • Andy, as some know I have travelled to every corner of these isles when I was a wage slave.
        The number of times I’ve passed the sign on the A9 luring me to Findo Gask was countless, but because I was chasing my tail, meeting myself coming back sometimes, it took until late in my working life that I began to consider: ‘What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.’
        It is a beautiful wee corner of this great country of ours.
        I’m a Bankie by birth, a citizen of the world by inclination.
        Yet I will always be a Son of Caledonia.
        I recall that we used to cheer when we crossed the border when travelling North by car on the way home after a week’s hard graft in the South.
        The mere fact that we had crossed into Scotland, still 90 odd miles from home was enough. At Gretna or North Berwick we were ‘home’ back on Scottish soil.
        I doubt that Dugdale or Rennie or Davidson experience such an uplift. Scotland is a meal ticket to them.

        Newton Wamphrey (hope I’ve spelled that correctly) is another magical name from my Travelling Past. The number of times I’ve sped up the M74 and marvelled at this intriguing name is countless.

        Much Wedlock in Shropshire also had me intrigued.

        Ramble done.

        • Speaking of signs on the A9, I’ve driven through Adverse Camber a few times. Sounds pretty but, in all honesty, there isn’t much to it.

        • I remember about 45 years ago there was a great band called Findo Gask, I love that area and when holidaying at Crieff hydro I went looking for Findo & Kinkell bridge. Auchterarder & Aberuthven. Beautiful🤗

        • Jack, on the Pennine “top” road between East Lancashire and West Yorkshire there is a tiny village called ‘Slack’ – and an even tinier part of it called ‘Slack Bottom’, as witnessed by a plaque on the houses there!

          My late Dad also loved the name of Newton Wamphrey (?) so much that on one memorable occasion he drove off the M74 just so that he, Mum and I could have a look at it! His other favourite was Easter Mickle Pinkerton … 😀

          • I loved Snake Pass too, Wendy, but not in deepest darkest winter. That was the detour when the M60 was snagged up.
            Not for the fainthearted or tourist.

          • Definitely not, Jack. Although further to the south than the pass between Harle Syke in East Lancs. and Hebden Bridge in West Yorks., Snake Pass and Woodhead Pass in the Yorkshire / Derbyshire Pennines are higher and wilder and although stunningly beautiful in good weather much more liable to closure in the winter months!

          • It could be worse, Wendy. We could be living in Barking and Havering Dagenham District Council.
            The lunatics have taken over the asylum?
            Last pun on place names, promise.

          • Marco, it is Wenlock. My clever PC corrected my text …
            The machines have taken over.
            I’ve been in ‘much wedlock’ for decades BTW.
            The Reason For My Being On this Planet is Irish, though but.
            I’ll miss her when Homeland Security escort her to Cairnryan in April 2019.

        • There are signs just north of Newcastle to a place named Wide Open and also, between Berwick-on-Tweed & Dunbar, the gloriously named Conundrum but I’ve so far visited neither.

  7. The bots & the trolls are the only ones arguing between themselves, probably.
    This then creates clickbait articles all over the MSM which are only read by the partisan population that it’s aimed at.
    As usual, Paul, you have clarified & simplified the situation.
    Keep it up 😉

  8. However Torrance’s agenda isn’t about getting the truth out, it is about being able to write this in a ‘national’ newspaper for all the people who don’t use twitter or know what it is about.
    In other words he is of the lying, wee, wank variety.

    • You forgot ‘and getting paid for it’. Getting paid is Torrance’s prime agenda. If way back he had perceived that there was money to be made being a Yesser he would have been in like Flynn. Remember the attempted SNP love-in with the unauthorised biographies of Salmond and Sturgeon? Torrance was pretending to be an academic at Dundee Uni at the time. I doubt he had any sort of ongoing contract mind.

      He is now apparently just a jobbing journalist/commentator looking for gigs. In a declining media space. I guess the BBC just don’t call often enough, poor lamb.

      • Remember ‘Scotland 2016’?
        He was never off it. All tha lovely appearance money no more.
        They have been downgraded to steam radio now, on GMS, reviewing books and movies, serving tea in the PQ canteen.
        The law of diminishing returns.
        Glasgow Uni, that hot bed of Yoonery, can only create so many ‘visiting professor’ sinecures.

        ‘The Order is rapidly changing. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. So get out, everyone, if you can’t lend a hand, ‘cos the times they are a’ changing.’

  9. Strange coincidence, but I was about to write an article about the professional death of Torrance till I remembered that his utterances don’t have to be true, they just have to be tory.

  10. You go away for few days to sort some personals out and this is what you get. Transported through a wormhole to a dimension where people take any notice to what David Torrance writes. 😉

    Mr Torrance isn’t really any good at what he gets paid for (That’s about as kind and diplomatic an appraisal as anyone could ask). He’s somewhat politically biased (Oh is he ever). Has the empathy and societal insight of a frozen haddock. His idea of nuanced political thought comes right off the back of a comic and he basically writes pieces for soapboxes who more than wholeheartedly concur with his somewhat jaundiced and tunnel visioned worldview.

    He wishes the YES movement was falling apart. Of THAT I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever. He and a great many others in the Yoonitariat I’d say, and just exactly WHAT does that say about their priorities? When their system of government, their practice of politics, their media, their establishment and their ‘order’ have brought the populations of the UK to this cliff edge.

    Just what exactly does that tell you about them as human beings, hmmm?

    NEWSFLASH for unionists!

    I don’t care about twitter. I don’t care about snits between journos and writers looking to make a name for themselves. I don’t care what label either the likes of Mr Torrance or some ‘right on’ types in Holyrood or new meeja care to throw out there for the hard of thinking either.

    NEWSFLASH for those who would label who is fit for the YES movement.

    I, and a great many others were YES voters before there was a YES campaign. We supported the principle of independence, consensus, social justice, freedom of choice, respect for inalienable human rights and dignity long before it became ‘cool’ and ‘hip’. Oh, and we really don’t need anyone’s permission or labelling to tell us who we are or why we should support these ideals and concepts. As a matter of yer akchul fact, we don’t need to support any particular party or party politics either by the by.

    It’s called yer basic humanity and it belongs to NO PARTY whatsoever. We’re just people who care about other people.

    Pretty hardcore, right on and radical ah know, but ah live life right on the edge me.

    Fair enough to say I really, REALLY don’t enjoy watching the weans throw their toys aboot in a tantrum of self righteous fuckwittery on either side of this debate. Real people’s lives are in harms way. Real honest to God human beings are suffering and some folk out there are twisted enough to be enjoying this pain inflicted on others whilst some are a bit busy deciding just who is cool enough to be in a club they don’t own the rights to and don’t decide the rules of.

    Just so both of these wayward children know? I’m YES today. I will be YES tomorrow and I will be YES when it counts most.

    The wishful and demented thinking of one and the self righteous overthink of the other will not EVER change that.

    • Well put, Sam.
      We demand a Scottish Government of the people, by the people, and accountable to the people of Independent Scotland.
      What shape that Government takes, will be up to the voters.
      Torrance is a hack who will wither on the vine once Self Determination is re-established.
      He is not even an engaging scribe: hackery by numbers, formulaic tosh doubtless cribbed from an Aide Memoire template from his days at whatever School of Journalism he attended.
      We will not ‘miss Nixon’ when he’s gone.
      Some day, and that day is fast approaching, his US owners are going to pull the plug on the Herald Britland money pit, and they’ll all be out on the streets.
      Unless of course Mundell trebles his £639,000 Communications budget, and Gardham recruits his old mates into Yoon Central.
      By the People, of the People, and accountable to the People.
      This has been our constant message; not Maoist Heaven, not Miss Marple Tory Calm, not Lib Dem let it all hang out individualism.
      The people will decide.
      Hell, there will even be room for a Reunification Party. I wish them luck with that.
      I find it amusing that a young zealot, my desert boots are older than he, dismisses us wrinkly straight guys out of hand without a sense of irony.
      Enough already.

      • Aye your boots and i raise you my cat , both probably older , this fascination of look at me ,me ,me ,seems to be catching , this unending quest for attention egged on by unionists who are using these useful fools for their own agenda and the idiots dont realise it , i wish they would for a minute step back and figure out what is going on , Divide and rule is now in full swing .

        • Robert, I bought them in Doncaster at a street market, circa 1991 when I was travelling the highways and byways of Ol’ Ingerland plying my trade.
          I wear them sparingly given our damp climate, but they are as comfortable as slippers.
          I may put it in my will that I’m interred in them.

          Taking no chances here, just in case there are Elysian Fields to stroll through in a Here After.
          The ‘naughty pleasure’ of May and the latest in an never ending and obliging MSM stream of photo ops for Chubby Cheeks Davidson.
          If it weren’t for the Light Of My life, I’d still have the knitted tie I bought in the ‘sixties; it somehow disappeared from my tie rack some time in the early noughties.

          There is no other nation in the civilised world which allows their bigger next door neighbour, 650 ‘foreign’ MPs, over 800 unelected Lords and Ladies, to ‘rule’ over them.

          Yet we are expected to read utter mince like Torrance’s Parcel Of Rogues’ treachery, and bow down to His Imperial Mastership.

          The man’s a modern Lord Haw Haw.
          A Scotland Denier, a traitor to the country of his birth.

          Now I know that this sort of language makes me a vile cybernat full of bile, a laptop warrior hiding in my mother’s basement, a ‘dyke’ slagger (Davidson’s words).
          According to the Record’s Editorial the other day, I am as bad as the arsewipe who tweeted foul venom to Scott Brown about his sister and Tommy Burns, and should be rounded up and sent for reprogramming to the gulags.
          Well, this old straight guy is in the phone book, on the electoral register, and if BBC PQ arrange it, I will ‘debate’ live on air with Dugdale, Rennie, Colonel Gadaffidson, Galloway, Mundell, with Glenn Campbell, Gordon Brewer, and Sarah Smith co-chairing. Just me for independence, against the Rage of the Yoons.

          Come on, Yoon Establishment, Bring It On.
          What have you got to be frightened of?

          They’ll run rings round me. They are professionals, well used to spouting lies and threats in public.

          I am a frail 69 year old arthritic pensioner. What could possibly go wrong/?

          They don’t even let folks like us anywhere near their ‘audiences’ on Yoon put-up-job ‘debates’ or QT.
          We, the people, are the last faction the MSM and the Establishment want anywhere near their Propaganda Outlets.

          • ha ha well said , the thing is and they know it, they aint winning , even with every media outlet behind them they haven’t succeeded ,now that must trouble them , thats why the new tactic – divide and rule .

      • It’s about time we took our movement back from the weans Jack (see under assorted journos and political ‘thinkers’). Clearly they haven’t quite grasped the whole ALL parties and NO parties concept and can’t be trusted to play well together when adults aren’t present.

        Seems tae me that just ordinary folk have a far better grasp of working together and getting along to get things done than a whole room full of ‘political thinkers’.

        • It smacks of ‘careerism’, Sam.
          Once the battle lines are drawn and it’s either Brexit hell or independence, I doubt that many of them will plump for servility to the English parliament. Surely they are not that young and naïve?

          I am amazed that as we trundle towards the greatest upheaval to these isles since WWII, and England and Wales march off into isolation from the rest of the world and financial ruin, that the MSM dismiss all this ‘he said she said’ mince as the normal summer season frippery.
          Our MSM seem to think that because it is August, there is no real news to report.

          They’re all away on 9 weeks holiday Down There.
          Brexit? Nothing to see here, move on.

          Marr and Neill, and the hoary Old Guard at BBC Pacific Quay are off on their hols too.
          The EU 27 can wait? Exceptionalism at its most dangerous.
          We did warn them.

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  12. Why twitter on about twitter? The Sunday Herald and The Daily Record are newspapers, as is The National, well kind of one anyway. Common Space, Bella Caledonia and Infyref2…Yes are driven by facebook pages, not twitter. Again you avoid the issue by answering a question that has not been asked, and completely ignore Torrance’s very valid argument.

  13. August’s iScot magazine arrived last night. Only now got round to reading Jason Michael McCann’s letter “Is This Sexist?” I can only say it’s an absolutely brilliant piece of writing. Well worth reading. He does the Three disGraces proud. What a triumvirate!

  14. When the Brexit s**t really hits the fan all but the most die hard unionists will be falling over themselves to vote for independence. We will need a border just to keep out the hoards of English trying to escape.

  15. Oh, and one other thing for the ‘right on’ team who are having a damn good sneer at people in the YES movement for being overly paranoid, or not the right sort.

    It might help a bit if you talked to people rather than at them? If you want to allay fears unreasonable or otherwise that is. Instead of using a soapbox to patronise, maybe just for once use one to bring the best out in people? Worth a thought?

    If folk are being overly paranoid and fearful, it’s because they’ve been made to be. The YES movement (that’s human beings to you and me) have had to endure several years of the most appalling mainstream propaganda I’ve ever seen. They’ve been attacked by their political class, their media, the support of their ideological opposites relentlessly and aggressively.

    They’ve watched their world and their beliefs brought down around their ears and their chosen representation ridiculed, sidelined and assaulted to the same degree despite sticking to the very letter of the word they gave to the population nearly three years ago. They are frustrated, angry, confused and in many cases fearful for themselves, their kids and their democracy.

    So how about showing a little empathy, a little understanding and a bit more humility. You want these people to vote for your parties and ideologies in an independent Scotland?

    You maybe want to think about giving them a reason to.

  16. I keep calling the future Freedom. Freedom from a politics I do not recognise nor want, Freedom from Twitter.
    A country called Scotland is my goal. I know I have convinced six people to change to Yes.

    The goons on the Yes and No side that rabbit on with their 140 character twaddle against insignificant out of context crap should just be ignored.

    Wear a Yes badge. It often gets a good chat going.

    Ignore Torrence and his like. Keep the heed and keep talking.

  17. Most folk know that we won’t convince anyone to vote yes by squawking on twitter or fb. Most folk are not fooled that everything in Scotland is shit either.

    As for Torrance, I’m convinced he’s an artificial construct, a malfunctioning AI to be exact, because he always pops up after all the stushies have ended! FGS would someone just give him a decent story to write. 😀

  18. On the subject of Newspapers: my local library stocks Herald, Record, Evening Times and who knows what else. I must ask next time I am in to find out if they also hold the National. Does anyone have information on what happens around the country?

  19. There isn’t really a Yes movement per-se though, is there? If and when the SNP get another referendum off the ground, it’s going to be Leave and Remain this time around. I wonder what effect the change of focus from ‘yes’ to ‘leave’ is likely to have.

  20. The spats are very boring and ultimately nihilistic.

    I am reading ‘ The People’ written by Selina Todd. She is from a working clas background and is an academic at Oxford University.

    Todd describes an outcome of the 1926 General Strike. ‘This was a class struggle, which showed the the collective strength of the working class, but also the partisan interests of their country’s rulers who used every weapon at their disposal to protect their property, profit and privilege. A generation of men and women would never lose that inspirational feeling that unity was strength, just as they would never forget the determination of a ‘ democratic’ government to repress them.’

    Same old story different era. Todd does finish her work on a hopeful note. ‘If the past teaches us anything it is this: if the people want a better future, we can, and must, create it ourselves.’

    The Yes movement is founded in the notions of what must and will be done in creating Scotland’s future. Nihilism has no place in such a movement.

    • “As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

  21. That David Torrance, I’d love to “Gowkthrapple” him. Sounds sare doesn’t it. Great name for a Lanarkshire village near Wishaw though.

  22. Twitter is a great source of manufactured insights and outrage for low level commentators like Torrance, and unfortunately others too use it is a bell weather to tell people how it is, this is why it is significant in its use as a weapon but in real terms irrelevant as so few people are on it.

  23. As with so many things in Scotland,accountability for service provision is deliberately obscure.
    Network Rail who are responsible for track,signalling and most of the rail infrastructure,which are the source of most delays,are not accountable to the Scottish government.
    You will never,however,read about that in HM press.
    There is a difference between having a political editorial stance and fake news printed for flagrant propaganda purposes.

  24. Is there anyone in the pro-independence movement who doesn’t feel sorry for David Torrance? It must be exhausting being how he is.

  25. “I love Scotland. From her velvet green thighs, to her fearsomely craggy curves which lie between tranquil Lochs, and vulgar hips; mountains spurring to thrust at the sky amid rolling landscapes of bog, bracken and thistle. Lovely eyes as moody as midnight, or serene as silver bands; she remains, calm and modest in her own magnificence, and as a revelation to the waning spirit as any joy therein. Scotland is my mother; wet-nurse, and companion” -dioghaltas

    Our day will come, as long as Scotland’s soil remains fertile.

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