A new ICM poll for the Sunday Mirror shows the Conservatives still enjoying a double point lead. The topling figures with changes from last month are CON 42%(-1), LAB 31%(+1), LDEM 19%(+1). I can’t find any details of the fieldwork dates yet, but it’s very likely to have been done after David Cameron’s announcements on Tory economic policy on Tuesday.

The trend continues to be against the Conservatives – albeit, the one point shifts in each party’s share are not in themselves significant. This poll is, however, likely to be seem as a great relief for the Conservatives simply because the 3 point lead from MORI earlier in the week received so much publicity. This poll doesn’t reflect a shift back to the Tories, it reflects ICM’s different methodology – they weight their samples by past vote so their sample contains fewer former Labour voters to begin with, and their question wording, weighting and adjustment of don’t knows all lead to a higher level of Lib Dem support – which in recent months has been at the expense of Labour.

This should be a good reminder that you need to look at the broad sweep of the polls. The 3 point lead was a single poll, from a single pollster, when other companies’ most recent polls were still showing 11 and 13 point leads. You should always look at the big picture, not the most recent poll.

56 Responses to “Tories still have an 11 point lead with ICM”

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  1. Probably a more realistic poll, and with a healthy +40 score the Tories are still comfortable. As ever – it the future trends that will count and whether the fiscal stimulus case is seen to work for Brown.

  2. polling has been up and down but about where i predicted at the begining of the month, overall this month the conservatives hold a 9% lead enough for a small majority if their were an election tomorrow as the saying goes

  3. monthly sheres of the vote:

    CON 42.1% 334 SEATS
    LAB 33.1% 261 SEATS
    LD 14.9% 25 SEATS
    OTH 9.9% 30 SEATS

    overall majority 18 to the conservatives a small majority but still a conservative govenment would prevaile just, one trend seams to be the others vote is now going down down deeper and down and the lib dem vote has steadyed out again at around 15% 8% lower than the 2005 election and most of that vote is still with the conservatives but a bit has driffted back to the labour party in the past few months, but a steadyly improving picture for the conservatives but not much movent in the polling data so far

  4. I don’t know who are more scared of a Conservative victory at the next GE – Labour or the media! Admittedly headlines and soundbites are based on the main news items of the day, but honestly… Is Mandelson wittering on about how much he would love to be invited to take part in Strictly Come Dancing really enough to keep our attention off Cameron’s reaction to Labour’s borrowing melt-down? Granted that Brown has had a few highly competent PMQs recently against Cameron and Osbourne’s rather wan performaces in the House, but delving into celebrity talent shows rather shows a need to use anything to maintain the smokescreen. Once we all see that deflation is NOT to be the same as a drop in inflation but a measure of the sickness, not the health, of the economy, then hopefully Labour will treat us with an iota more intelligance, respect and humility.

  5. I wonder is this because people aren’t buying Labour’s tax rhetoric — or is it just that all Brown bounces deflate within a few months…

  6. As I said in response to the last poll these recent higher polls for Labour may be a blip. This poll suggests that it may indeed be the case.

    There has been a lot of varied and unusual news in the media regarding the economy for people to digest, e.g. recession with low inflation – has there ever been such a thing in Britain before? The answer to reckless borrowing is more borrowing in order to stimulate the economy.

    As people over the coming probabe 18 months reflect on Labour policies it may be that they will be longing for the days when they were averaging this well.

  7. Well now all we need are a couple more like these and we can stop all this talk about an early election.

    It pains me to think how much time is spent by the government wondering when to have an election instead of running the country.

  8. Don’t forget there’s supposed to be some dramatic tax-slashing measure this coming Monday. If it’s anything like the BBC build-up it will be enough to increase the effect of the recent Labour recovery, albeit temporarily.
    The problem for Labour is that nothing they can do will actually ‘cure’ the recession quickly. These things have to work themselves through. Government measures might make a small difference to the length and depth of recession, but ultimately the end will only come when business and consumer confidence returns. This could take several years.
    I just hope that this worldwide recession isn’t cured the same way the last big one was – by a World War.
    (PS I know that we are not yet technically in a recession yet, but that only means that it is yet to come. It is unavoidable.)

  9. Pete B –

    You are of course right, it’s funny to watch how much the BBC has been hyping the PBR.

    I think that Labour will get a bump from Monday’s announcement but it won’t last long. Labour keep on claiming that it is their initiatives that are causing Labour’s gain in the polls when I think it is really increased publicity. If it was about their initiatives then the tories would be on less than 40%. Whenever the election campaign is will mean even coverage for Cameron and a vast increase the Tory lead.

  10. stuart,
    dont forget our constitution will be rebalanced or made a modicum more fair(we have one of the most unfair voting systems in the developed world) by the scottish mp’s not voting on english matters.

    so you can add 59 seats to the english conservative majority,on devolved matters.

    this asumes a conservative victory and them winning such a vote.

  11. Wills is being distinctly unfair. I don’t think the Government is spending time worrying about whether to call an election. That’s just what the media has been doing.

    Well Anthony I don’t mind looking at the bigger picture. But the poll which put the Tories only 3% ahead was one of 3 polls out of 4 which all had a fairly narrow Tory lead. This ICM poll will be a relief to Conservatives, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if a poll before the year is out has Labour narrowly ahead from one of the polling organizations.

    I am not going to say I believe or disbelieve either this poll or its predecessor. It is pretty likely that the current position is somewhere between the 2 polls. That does give a basis for a further Labour recovery, but the Party will have to continue to work hard to lessen the impact of the recession if this is to eventuate. To assume a Conservative victory blithely as so many of your correspondents do isn’t very sensible – but then as a Labour supporter who am I to complain about that………

  12. You’re not looking at the bigger picture: in fact 5 of the most recent 9 polls show a Tory lead in single figures.

    That makes this latest poll a likely anomaly too.

    The most probably scenario is that the Tories lead by about 7 to 9 pts.

  13. Weighted Moving Average 42:33:15. Meanwhile Darling is making it clear, what Brown was trying to deny, that this enormous borrowing will require taxes to rise in the future.

    Combining a vast Deficit with a 20-30% reduction in Sterling is an enormous economic stimulus – let us see what happens. It is just possible that it will head off a recession at the expense of enormous inflation in the future, but I doubt it. If the recession hits people hard they will blame Brown, rightly, because his policy errors have made the UK in far worse shape than other large economies.

  14. Weighted Moving Average 42:33:15. Meanwhile Darling is making it clear, what Brown was trying to deny, that this enormous borrowing will require taxes to rise in the future.

    Combining a vast Deficit with a 20-30% reduction in Sterling is an enormous economic stimulus – let us see what happens. It is just possible that it will head off a recession at the expense of enormous inflation in the future, but I doubt it. If the recession hits people hard they will blame Brown, rightly, because his policy errors have made the UK in far worse shape than other large economies.


    This is, surely, a place to comment on polls. Not a space to enter into party politics?

    One could just as easily place the blame for the recession at the door of Conservative (ie. Republican) policies in the USA.

    Likewise one can point to the ‘faults’ of the Conservative approach to the recession: do nothing. That’s is precisely the route that Thatcher took which lead to 3.5 million unemployed on a long term basis.

    So let’s just stick to poll analysis, eh?

  15. “Likewise one can point to the ‘faults’ of the Conservative approach to the recession: do nothing.”

    No one can’t-well not if one lives in UK & has just watched Cameron & Osborne repeat how they would intervene on monetary & fiscal policy.

    “Party Politics” is saying things like you’ve just said.

    Sensible discussion is objectively comparing & contrasting policy proposals-and on this site thinking about their effect on the Polls.

    There is a massive intellectual debate to be had about this looming recession, it’s dreadfull impending effects, and what can realistically & sensibly be done to mitigate them.

    I hope ( but do not expect) that such a debate takes place on Monday in Parliament.

    The Public -particularly those who will bear the brunt of what is coming-deserve no less and I hope they severely punish any Party which attempts to avoid that debate.

  16. NBeale’s comments are more analysis that partisan comment – the prickly response from france seems a tad OTT.

    On the recent polling – nearly every poll has given the Conservatives a figure of 40-42% so we have to assume this is pretty accurate. The difference lies in the distribution of the remainder of the opinions – some have very low Lib Dem figures which tends to explain the Labour bounce.

    Anthony – what would the figures be just for England? I suspect (on the basis of hunch rather than any information) that Labour are doing well in Scotland where they are competing against an SNP Government and can behave like an opposition.

  17. Anthony the difference between this Poll & other recent ones is -if I understand you correctly-methodology which tends to maximise comparative LibDem figures,

    In order to put it into the context of other Polls with a different view of Lib Dem support, can you say what ICM’s historical accuracy on LibDem votes has been please.

  18. Colin – unfortunately past record gives us very little guide. At the last election, all but Populus were within 1 point of the actual Lib Dem score and Populus were only 2 points out.

    Rather ironically given the sort of figures we are getting presently, ICM underestimated them by 1 point, YouGov overestimated their support by 1 point, MORI got them bang on.

    Simon – we can’t tell. ICM do provide a break for England or Scotland on their tables.

  19. philip johnstone

    honestly- if the conservatives win more than 5 seats in scotland i would be surprzed they have little or no chance north of the border areas.

  20. An interesting point i’d like to make is that looking back at the history of ICM polls in the table back to their last on 25th sep is that they’ve hardly changed. It’s been very flat. Compare that to yougov from 18th Sep and you see a decreasing trend for the Cons and an increasing trend for Lab. That’s reflected in some of the other polls also, ComRes is flat whereas Ipsos shows a decreasing trend for the Cons and increasing for Lab. BPix is relatively flat (slightly increasing in favour of Cons) but Populous shows an obvious decrease for the Cons and an increase for Lab. It seems the picture that is painted is very dependent on the poller but it’s either no change or strongly in favour of Lab.

    I’ve rather indecently ignored the Libs here, my apologies.

  21. The fascinating question is whether the stimulus works, (or is seen to work). The devaluation will help, but will only really be effective if there is a similar stimulus globally so other countries have money to buy UK exports.
    I’ve said before that despite a solid Tory rating of
    40%+, the terrible sense of economic dread currently gripping everyone could be a positive for Labour. For those who remain in work, the next 12 – 18 months could be very positive, with rising buying power, huge sales and discounts, and very large falls in prices of basic items. If the stimulus works and this time next year the majority of people (and the media) are looking back and thinking armageddon didn’t happen,
    then Labour’s reputation could be partly restored, especially if the Conservatives continue to fail in establishing the downturn as a UK rather than international event.

    Also – I just wanted to pick up of Phillip Johston’s claim about making the constitution more ‘fair’ by ending Scottish MP’s voting on English matters. As I understand it, Tory policy is to end Scottish voting rights but not end similar rights by Northern Irish MPs, while, er, establishing an alliance with Ulster Unionist MPs. I think it might be best to leave judgements about what is fair out of this and just accept all parties do what’s in their own interests.

  22. @ Alec – you said “For those who remain in work, the next 12 – 18 months could be very positive, with rising buying power, huge sales and discounts, and very large falls in prices of basic items.”

    I really really doubt this. A lot of people in work are going to be worried about losing their jobs, even if it doesn’t actually happen to them. A lot of people will have their pay rises frozen and the rates of promotion are likely to decrease. The housing market is more-or-less stalled so people are going to feel increasingly trapped. And as unemployment soars, crime rates will also soar. Most ordinary working people will have a lot to worry about and the prospect of sales and discounts is not going to be much compensation.

  23. Whenever the election campaign is will mean even coverage for Cameron and a vast increase the Tory lead.


    I disagree, it will be a time where Cameron has to be firm on policies and not flip flop by the week. The Cons response to the economy is almost laughable if it wasn’t possible they could be the governing party in 18 months time

    It will certianly be no time for a novice and the electorate will see this.

  24. James – you could be right, but Anthony has reported on previous polls that individuals assessment of their own economic outlook has improved and that unemployment is relatively low scoring on the list of concerns in voters minds. If your pay is frozen but petrol drops by 15p and your mortgage falls by £150 a month things may appear more rosy. Although I don’t claim to represent the nation, I’m about to spend thousands on a house extension, and we’ve added a host of other jobs in as prices of builders have tumbled and they are really competing for work in my area. Its a good time to spend.
    The key is how deep and long the recession is – the Tories are banking on lots of pain, but if Brown and the IMF are right concerted action might head off the worst of the downturn. Who really knows?

  25. May I repeat a point made in an earlier thread! Very high unemployment did not prevent Thatcher landslides in 1983 and 1987 – why should it be so different this time?

  26. Graham

    For 2 reasons – firstly the Opposition in the 80s was very poor and almost unelectable.

    Secondly, These were Thatcher’s 2nd and 3rd elections whereas this Government has already won 3 elections and is going for a 4th. So there is a “time for a change” factor. if anything isn’t right this Government will have had 13 years to change it by 2010.

  27. Looking at recent polls I would say that the gap between Labour and the Conservatives is shrinking. At present I would say its around 8% but after Monday will either go back up to around 15% or down to around3% or lower. Depends how well Darling and Osborne do tomorrow.

  28. KTL – fair enough, but one could equally argue that the Opposition at the moment is hardly convincing to the floating voter either, even if not quite in the class of my Party in the 80s. If the Conservatives do not provide a solid argument to cause voters to opt for them, Labour are in with a very good chance when the election comes. It takes more than a receding economy to guarantee an opposition election win.

  29. KTL
    I do accept that there is force in the ‘ time for a change’ argument – there have to be very solid grounds to persuade the electorate that a Government deserves a 4th term in office. That, however, is a very different matter to suggesting that Labour faces inevitable defeat on account of recession and high unemployment!

  30. It is quite possible for a party to lose an election when the economy is doing well (the Tories in 1997 and the US Democrats in 2000).

    “Whenever the election campaign is will mean even coverage for Cameron and a vast increase the Tory lead.”

    That could be proved right also – Obama did not maintain a decisive lead over McCain until the last few weeks of their campaigns.

  31. It looks like tomorrows VAT will be lowered and a new rate of income tax of 45% will be introduces in 2011 for those on £150,000 or more. I think this will go down well in the polls. Interesting to know how many people are on £150,000 or more? We all pay VAT so I think that will go down well with most people. I expect there will be a poll or three soon after Monday.

  32. And in Australia; Howard left the Australian Conservatives in the worst situation ever. Namely, when he lost the federal government (at the top of the economic boom) the highest elected Tory in the country was the Mayor of Brisbane ( the 3rd/4th most important state and it was the capital city of Queensland. Say, consider Chelmsford in Essex and you get the idea…). All state (say Scotland / Wales / NI) governments were in Labour hands.

    It’s worth noting that in Australia there is a strong tradition of ‘a plague on both your houses’; this I think has not been thought through in the UK. Traditional party loyalty is basically dying throughout the western world–consider the swings in the polls. I suggest there is no way a Party in power at Westminster will get tribal loyalty for devolved parliaments; too many of us are cynical / realistic and will axiomatically vote against Westminster.

    Does anyone know of a federal system of government where the ‘lesser’ governments get elected to support the federal? I don’t. But I can name many where this ‘vote against works in federal politics.

    I would suggest the assumption that Westminster and ‘devolved’ polls will progressively show divorced results will be increasingly shown to be accurate.

    Out of interest In Australia ‘normality’ has begun to return– Western Australia voted against the Labour State Govt.. and so has begun the return to the normal where State Governments area mix of Labour and Tory Parties. Symbolically the Australian Capital Territory is more interesting. The capital city of Australia now has the Green Party sharing power for the first time in Australia (with Labour) at a serious level.

  33. I would welcome the cut in VAT, and everyone else I should imagine. It is something that should have happen long ago.

    But I expect a lot of people already realize that this money will be clawed back during the next government term. And there will be many who will feel like that they are being bambozzled by a crafty salesman (rightly or wrongly).

    With such a big give away one should expect a boost for Labour by an average few points. If this ‘rescue plan’ is not well received then things have become more dire for Labour and possibly for the economy as well.

  34. Gary,

    The top 10% of earners pay almost 50% of all income tax ( which includes the £6k+ they each pay at basic rate). As I recall the top 10% starts at an income of about £70k, so at a guess i’d say the top 1-2% will be on £150k+.

    That shouldn’t prove to much of an electoral hit for Labour as i suspect they don’t get the majority of votes from people on that kind of income ( though Tony might be smarting a bit, assuming he still pays UK tax).

    A bigger hit might be from the general message it sends of high tax under Labour after the election. even if it gets them through the next few months I think it has risks come the elction.

    As worrying for Labour will be tomorrows markets. i have a real felling that after talk of a 5% cut 2.5% won’t do the trick and that the FT and the £ will take a hit. If that happens they could try and recover by announcing another 2.5% later but that might look like panic.

    In truth it’s a dilema as it was with interest rates; Do you cut by 0.5% and follow it with another if that doesn’t work hoping to gradually have the right effect or do you go for a big cut of 1.5% with hints of more to follow knowing that if that doesn’t work your pretty much out of ammo.

    It was interesting listening to Brown tonight that he seems to be constantly shifting between portraying himself as leading the G8 and saying that everyone else is doing it.

    Tt’s a variation on the old Britain has avoided the woes of Germany and France because it’s flexible labour markets and light touch regulation and finacial services industry but now that the bubbles burst it’s not a US/Uk created crisis but just global conditions.

    As I see it, there is an element of both in this it isn’t all Browns fault but he isn’t innocent. What he and Darling are doing isn’t all wrong but it won’t be all right either.

    That can be said for the Tories and the LibDems as well and the public will make a judgemnet on them all. If I had to call it it will be this.

    Brown will do okay for a while but because he will be seen as acting in a crisis and working hard to make the best out of a bad situation. However because he needs to use most of the space he has a year before the election he will have mostly spent his electoral capital before it comes.

    The electorate will probably make the same verdict they would have six months ago, its time for change, which means a 45% Tory figure and a rise in the SNP and Libdem votes as people find an alternative to Labour because they don’t think they can win.

    Browns dilema is that he can’t go to the polls now and win, and he can’t win if he goes to the polls in 2010.


  35. Peter,
    “The top 10% of earners pay almost 50% of all income tax ” – wouldn’t it be nice if they did, but then all those tax havens would be out of business!

    On the subject of the polls:
    the WMA is currently being shown up to be a perverse irrelevance as the biases in each different methodology begin to be exposed for what they are. They don’t even provide sufficient counterbalance to each other to negate their biases, so, frankly, discussion of the WMA is a waste of time.

    It is impossible to try to account for any general movements at the current time, as, following on from a period of stasis, each poll only scrambles the picture more fully.

    I would in fact say that we have finally reached the end of a cycle of public opinion with tomorrow’s PBR having the potential to be a real turning point.

    The PBR will mark the start of the pre-election campaign when each side will formally set out their own cases for handling the serious situation, so seasoned watchers should be taking their cues from the performances of the principal actors in the chamber and not focussing on prior impressions of wider public opinion.

    So on this point I think it is interesting that the Conservatives have already begun by undermining the authority of their intellectual position by allowing Ken Clarke to stake out their position in place of their official spokesman, so it must be concluded there is some uncertainty about their stability under fire – which hints at weakening prospects for Cameron going into a GE.

  36. Thomas:
    re WMA it is precisely at a time when there are substantial fluctuations between polls that you need to keep your head and look at the WMA. The real margin for error of these polls at an individual level is huge: a Standard Deviation of 5% or so means that there is a 15% chance or so that the error is >5%.

    You also seem to be one of those who see the whole recession thing in political terms. The stakes involved are too big for it to be a “spin” operation (Brownite or otherwise). I think the “stability under fire” point is ludicrous, but I agree with others that, in this forum, we should try to stick to the polls.

  37. This place is getting as predictable as Eastenders “This is a more realistic poll”….why is that I wonder, because it shows the Conservatives 11% ahead.

    It seems no one on here can take off their own political glasses without responding

    Again polls are showing wide variations with as Anthony saying the different methodology effecting poll results and it is plain to see. Will the next show a bigger Conservative lead, or should that be a more realistic result or will the next show another shortening of the lead or should that be one to be ignored, rogue etc.

    Will be interesting to see where the polls go after the Darling announcement, will the public back the stimulus or not,will they be “Realistic” or “Rogue”?

  38. I’m in a strange situation as I find my self for once agreeing in part with Peter Cairns!

    I do agree that support for the Tories and SNP will rise however I wouldn’t say the same about the Lib Dems, as Clegg is portrayed as a sort of Cameron-lite figure he doesn’t do as well from the Labour downturn.

    Bring on howls of derision from Lib Dem supporters!

  39. NBeale,
    I’m not sure that you are capable of reading very closely.

    I’m criticising the WMA for it’s inability to accurately describe poll trends not its ability to inaccurately indicate poll shares.

    Methinks you have too much of a personal investment in the results of the WMA.

  40. There seems to be more than the usual degree of wishful thinking going on !! I remain of the view that the fundementals have not changed and the only way it will is if today’s package is clearly seen to work in the year ahead. As it stands the Tories must still be odds on favourites to win the next election.

  41. “allowing Ken Clarke to stake out their position in place of their official spokesman, ”

    What Ken Clarke said is that he thinks a VAT reduction would help stimulate demand-“if we can afford it”

    These are matters of judgement-Brown has made one-so has Cameron. Clarke doesn’t have to, so he can just ask the question.

    Economists are in disagreement about both the principle of fiscal stimulus at this time and/or the components of one.

    We will never know how much difference a VAT reduction of such tiny proportions made to demand in a recession, for VATable products which are being heavily discounted in price anyway.

    As to the whole PBR package-the Equity & FX Markets will make the only judgement which matters-apart from the one to be made by voters that is.

  42. Re-the GE, whenever it comes the Labour manifesto is going to contain things like this isn’t it?

    Vote for us so we can :-
    *Correct the faults in Financial Regulatory system which we introduced.
    *Give more money to the Banks so they can write off all their bad debts.
    *Incease taxes to reduce Government Debt.
    *Reverse our policy of Public Expenditure-and curtail it.
    *Reverse our policy on uncontrolled immigration.
    *Reverse our policy on Drinking Laws.
    * Continue to support index limked , salary related public sector pension rights, whilst the Private Sector continue to lose theirs.

    How attractive will such a Manifesto be to UK Voters one wonders.

  43. Peter, Thomas – in fact the top ten percent of earners pay more than 50% of income tax. On the HMRC’s current figures in 2007-2008 the top 10% paid 52.9% of all income tax reciepts. The top 1% in terms of income paid 22.7% of all income tax receipts.

  44. My bad Anthony – was too quick on the button thinking that this referred to the proportion of their own income paid in tax… non-dems etc.

  45. Sky assessment-45% rate will be 400,000 taxpayers & raise £1.5 billion-ie peanuts-ie its a trap for Cameron-does he vote against it.

    The big unanswered question is -if 45% tax rate isn’t going to rebalance the debt problem-what is?

    Presumably Darling will answer the question.

  46. Increasing Higher Rate Income Tax is also Lib Dem policy of course!

    So this shoots Clegg’s fox, and says no point voting LibDem-you get the same policy with us.

    And with Torys holding firm at 40% ish, the Polls show Brown that its LibDem votes which will save his bacon.

    Very neat!

    He ditches any pretence of being on the side of wealth creators , and rows back from Blairite promises never to do something like this-but what the hell-those votes are lost to Brown now anyway.

    This was always going to have as much politics as economics in it-its the way Brown operates.

  47. Did anyone see the Daily Politics today? In their poll, apparently 51% of those polled agreed that Britain is in a stronger position than other leading economies.

    Not being party-political, but was this a poll of the Labour backbenches?

  48. Anthony,

    I did the figures off the top of my head, but i did know the top 10% paid around 50% although I couldn’t recall the exact figure. I used the figures fron The then Inland Revenue when I was looking at tax reform a couple of years back.

    I doubt that the richest pay tax on all there income and they are quite good at avoiding it, but I suspect that few people really understand that 1 in 100 will soon be paying a quarter of all income tax.

    The public perception seems to be that people at the top don’t pay as much as they should and often little or nothing, when it’s clearly not the case. But as with polls it’s perception that counts.

    I should make clear that I am not advocating tax cuts for the rich or saying they are over (or under) taxed, but merely that the reality differs from the commonly held belief.


  49. Look out for action on the removal of the 40% rate tax rebate for pension contributions. This would yeild about £7b a year – more than enough to cover the cost of the whole stimulus package over a full Parliamentary term, has absolutely no impact on anyone earning up to around twice average earnings, and does not have any immediate deflationary impact on the economy as it’s money that isn’t being spent now anyway. The only downside could be some impact on shares as most of this would effectively be removed from the stockmarket investments in future years, but even here its not a huge figure in the scheme of things. Its the easiest (and fairest) way to finance a very large increase in the tax take.

  50. I count myself lucky that I am not one of the 1% paying 25% of our tax bill! But if any of them wants to swap? ;-)

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