Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 41%, LAB 41%, LDEM 8%. It’s the lowest Lib Dem score YouGov have ever shown, and as far as I can tell the lowest Liberal Democrat score any pollster has shown since September 1990, over 20 years ago.

I’ll add my normal caveats about not getting too excited about a single poll, new extreme highs and lows for parties do tend to be the outliers, but nevertheless, the fact that we’ve got our first 8% for the Lib Dems suggests that their support is still on a downwards trend. It is probably no co-incidence that this comes after several days of the Liberal Democrats internal ructions over tuition fees have been all over the political headlines.


72 Responses to “YouGov – Lib Dems hit 8%”

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  1. Wow

  2. Latest PAPA has CON 36.8: LAB 39.6: LD 12.2 http://bit.ly/hKLXQH

  3. There was me thinking it just coming in from being virtually impossible to something we might see in the next few months. Astonished I am.

  4. With the debate to come tomorrow and the Lib Dems more exposed, what could the weekend polls show, any being taken apart from YG ?

  5. And Milliband finally got going today too! Roll on May 2011, it should be very interesting. Unless the economy booms, unemployment falls, house prices stop falling and inflation returns to 2%

  6. Given the LDs polled 9% with YouGov 3 times in November 10 I am not surprised they poll 8% in Decenber after a very difficult time for the party. As Anthony says it could well be an outlier.

    Assuming the Coalition win the vote tomorrow (likely) it would not surprise me if the LDs are sometimes polling 11% or higher with Yougov within the course of the next month or so. I should mention I am not a LibDem supporter.

  7. @ Eric Gooyer

    Didn’t see any coverage of PQM other than the stuff on the BBC, and Miliband looked dreadful as ever. Not sure why you think he got going today, when his response to higher tuition fees is the equally unpopular graduate tax, but would be interested to hear your views.

    As far as the polls are concerned, government has been a rude awakening for the Lib Dems and you have to wonder just how much panic the polls are generating. Today’s poll may be an outlier, but it looks more like part of a continuing trend.

  8. PQM? I must put my glasses on straight.

  9. I’ll be interested to see hoe Mike Smithson over on Political betting will manage to spin this as good news for the Libdems, but I’m sure he will.

  10. It won’t last. It’s just flavour of the moment to kick them while they’re down. Just like it was flavour of the moment to ‘support’ them after the TV debates. I still expect the party to be in the 15-20% bracket in a year or two.

  11. A lot of the Prime Minister’s Questions are posted youtube now. I find them highly entertaining and enjoyable to watch.

  12. @Mike Assuming the Coalition win the vote tomorrow (likely) it would not surprise me if the LDs are sometimes polling 11% or higher with Yougov within the course of the next month or so. I should mention I am not a LibDem supporter.

    Wooohooo! They might get back to 11% next month!! You heard it here first .

    When an 11% poll will be good news, you know you are in trouble.

    Just to add – it would surprise me. There is no message which can help the Lib Dems except stuffing the Tories on something important….but they can’t because they are tied to the mast – sailing merrily on the good ship Clegg into electoral oblivion.

  13. ian C, I agree with our post. The only hope for Lib Dems is to break away, and some are doing that and realise they need to if not going to be swallowed up. i do believe a split will happen in the coalition now, but don’t know when. Clegg will remain with the Tories.

  14. Socal liberal
    See my reply – last post of previous thread.

    No jokes on last post please. :-)

  15. Anthony – Can you please clarify…..the Lib Dems cannot go into minus figures can they :-)

  16. @SocialLiberal (from previous thread)

    “His middle name is Ronald but he dropped the use of it in November 1966 as he was so disgusted by Ronald Reagan and upset over him being elected governor.”

    Did your Dad change his view about Reagan after the “great communicator’s” two terms as President?

    @Andy S

    “YouGov:
    41/41/8
    Approval -11”

    The two parties now at a combined 82%? Now I know this is only one opinion poll, and we’re 4 or more years away from an election and the LD vote has catastrophically collapsed, but the combined Tory and Labour vote hasn’t been at this level since the 1950’s, has it? Look, anything’s possible in these extraordinary political times, but I think this poll is overstating both of the two main party’s real level of support. I think Anthony’s poll of polls is nearer the mark, thereby raising the intriguing question as to why YouGov is now out on such a limb. (Just seen Mike Smithson’s post – nearer to where we are, I think)

    For the old psephologists on here (most of us, I would imagine!), and prompted by yesterday’s debate on the iniquities of the 2001 election, I’ve been doing a bit of digging on other elections where disproportionate parliamentary landslides were won. 1987 is an interesting one. Thatcher won a thumping 102 seat majority on a 42% share of the vote and, although Blair’s landslide was greater in terms of seats and obtained on a smaller vote share, mainly due to the reasons Anthony outlined yesterday, his 177 seat majority on a 41% share of the vote isn’t a million miles from Thatcher’s. The lesson? FPTP delivers very disproportionate results, and has been doing so for quite some time. Incidentally, the combined vote shares for the two main parties in 1987 and 2001 were very similar. 73% (delivering 91% of the seats) in 87 and 72.4% (delivering 87% of the seats) in 01. If anything, the 1987 result was even more unfair on the third party than the 2001 outcome, although Labour were the greater beneficiaries on both occasions.

  17. Mike – if, beneath the random variation, YouGov’s underlying score for the Lib Dems is around 10% I would certainly expect the occassional 11% to turn up. Once the issue of tuition fees is no longer big daily headline news it should help them a bit too.

    Red Rag – we discussed the lowest figures the Lib Dems had ever suffered here. The record low we could locate in a GB poll was 3%.

  18. Lib Dem support is now exactly one third of what it was at the general election. That is utterly atrocious for a governing party – and it’s difficult to see how they will regain all of their lost support.

    It’s pure conjecture, but they might possibly get back up into the teens by the end of a general election campaign – but that sort of performance will still lose them a lot of seats.

    Ironically, although the last YouGov tables I saw showed them losing more support to Labour than to the Tories, it is the Conservatives who will be the main beneficiaries of any collapse in the Lib Dem seat total.

    An overall parliamentary Conservative majority looks like a distinct possibility in 2015 (as the Tories rarely get beaten after only one term in office) though it’s still far too early to be sure.

  19. Simon Hughes gave a particularly dreadful interview to Newsnight. . Almost as bad as the US general lecturing China on democracy.

  20. ‘The two parties now at a combined 82%? Now I know this is only one opinion poll, and we’re 4 or more years away from an election and the LD vote has catastrophically collapsed, but the combined Tory and Labour vote hasn’t been at this level since the 1950?s, has it? ‘
    Nick Hadley,
    I think you will find that the combined Tory /Labour vote remained in excess of 85% up to – and including – the 1970 election.

  21. I saw PM questions today and Millibands performance was utterly shocking. He has no authority whatsoever and sounds like a spoilt child. I am convinced that he was a huge mistake over his brother David and will be gone in a couple of years. Like or dislike Cameron at he is a far superior speaker and I noticed today that he has some of Thatchers mighty stance at the despatch box. I feel sorry for Clegg as he and Cable are good guys. He needs to stamp his authority on his party and shout down the likes of Menzines and Kennedy. People need to look at the University fee’s structure proposed and realise it is much fairer than a graduate tax which the better off can avoid by simply moving overseas

  22. Robert – welcome, but if you haven’t already can I point you towards the comments policy. The first couple of sentences in your post aren’t really the sort of comments we have here (it would, after all, probably just be followed by a Labour supporter saying the exact opposite to you about EM and DC, which gets a bit dull after… well, straight away actually ;) )

  23. Nick H
    One way (OK its my way) of looking at what you are describing is that 82% of the electorate want a disproportionate win for their side. that leaves 18% to vote for AV (except those who don’t think it is sufficiently proportional.)
    On the Lib Dems you are beginning to reach the point where no overall plan for survival is convincing and “every man (or woman for him (or her) self seems inevitable. There was a rumour on this site that all the north of Scotland Lib Dems except Alexander might join in a group to oppose fee increases. I poo-pooed it at the time but now? IMO Clegg has done a gerald Ratner. Those who voted for him (who were not already firm adherents) feel he has made a fool of them.

  24. Shifting sands. The lib dems will recover. And they will stay together. If they can’t stick together through the tough times what is the point of having any sort of power ? Remember this is a party that has survived loads of crises over the years – 1979 and thorpe being accused of attempted murder, the debacle of the merger in 88 when the party went down to 3pc in the polls. The lib dems are far more resilient than they are given credit for. And I’d rather a deputy pm who changes his mind and compromises in a coalition that a pm who lies and takes us to an illegal war killing millions of innocent people. No competition!

  25. @ Howard

    I would not joke about your post. Although I don’t think that yuppies and Archie Bunker types particularly get along. And as for sink estates, I think if you attempt to punish and overregulate certain types of behavior, you simply make it worse. There’s a difference though between kids getting rowdy and housing projects that are dominated by violent gangbangers. Or housing projects that produce violent terrorists. When you speak of anti-social behavior, I often get confused to the definition. When I was in the 7th grade, I had a British Dean. She was a nice old English lady and she used to tell us stories of her childhood where she could be subjected to corporal punishment for being caught out in the streets eating fish and chips. Apparently the one time she dared to do this, she was caught.

  26. @ Nick Hadley

    “Did your Dad change his view about Reagan after the “great communicator’s” two terms as President?”

    No. I think it actually got worse. :)

    Though his dislike of Reagan is probably edged out just by his dislike of Nixon.

  27. SoCalLiberal

    “she used to tell us stories of her childhood where she could be subjected to corporal punishment for being caught out in the streets eating fish and chips. ”

    I’m the last person to suggest what English law and customs were (or are), but I suspect that she was talking about the reaction of her parents to behaving in a manner that they considered “common” (in other words what the vast majority of people considered normal behaviour).

  28. SoCalLiberal

    I’m in the USA at present and may have posted the wrong email address in my reply, hence being stuck in moderation – 2nd attempt.

    “she used to tell us stories of her childhood where she could be subjected to corporal punishment for being caught out in the streets eating fish and chips. ”

    I’m the last person to suggest what English law and customs were (or are), but I suspect that she was talking about the reaction of her parents to behaving in a manner that they considered “common” (in other words what the vast majority of people considered normal behaviour).

  29. @ Old Nat

    Welcome to the USA. I hope you enjoy your stay here and are not chased away by locals with pitchforks who think Scotland is an enemy in the War on Terror or mobbed by those who think you’re related to Susan Boyle. :) J/k.

    I think she meant she could be punished by her school for being caught eating fish and chips in the street. Not the government. I think it was described as poor manners unbecoming of young ladies. I don’t think even the most upper class Tory government would attempt to make eating in the streets against the law.

    But in trying to understand what is “anti-social” behavior as understood by Brits (or Scots), I’m wondering what the definition is. As you’ve probably noticed in the U.S., Americans aren’t always as refined and well mannered as those who live in the UK. So when Labour was making laws against “anti-social” behavior, are we talking about bad table manners at tea time or are we talking about bomb making in the basement in order to establish a Iran style Islamic Republic of Britania?

  30. SoCalLiberal

    I’m a regular visitor to the USA – seeing family. Thus far nobody has mobbed me for being an enemy, or harassed me for being a relative of Susan (or should that have been the other way round? :-) )

    Last time I was here, I was explaining the concept of compassionate release to a bunch of actors – they thought it was a pretty good idea. They were surprised, however, to learn that many states had such a provision in law, but chose not to exercise it.

  31. @ Old Nat

    You reminded me of something else. Flag burning. I always have a chuckle when people abroad, demonstrating their superior intelligence and morality, decide to burn an American flag to protest the great evil empire. I laugh because if these people wanted to burn flags in the United States, they could do so freely without any punishment whatsoever. I doubt you would (you don’t seem like the type) but if you wanted to burn a flag while here, you could.

    Recently John Paul Stevens talked about the issue of American flag burning because it has been a controversial issue in the past. He noted that now that people can burn flags, nobody does it anymore (at least people in the U.S.). So when I think about laws that regulate “anti-social” behavior, I think sometimes laws against certain activities are likely to encourage them further.

  32. @ Old Nat

    “I’m a regular visitor to the USA – seeing family. Thus far nobody has mobbed me for being an enemy, or harassed me for being a relative of Susan (or should that have been the other way round? )

    Last time I was here, I was explaining the concept of compassionate release to a bunch of actors – they thought it was a pretty good idea. They were surprised, however, to learn that many states had such a provision in law, but chose not to exercise it.”

    I hope you enjoy your time with family. I was just kidding of course (I love Susan Boyle). I have no doubt that you will educate people about Scotland.

    I know about compassionate release laws. I don’t know if every state has one but I know California does. I remember opposing compassionate release for Susan Atkins in 2009 and again this year. The California Parole Board agreed with me and denied her compassionate release. She died actually after the most recent denial.

    That said, the law is a good idea and I’m glad we have one.

  33. SoCalLiberal

    “I think sometimes laws against certain activities are likely to encourage them further.”

    Or at least ensure that the activities will profit the criminals.

    It was bad enough that the US introduced Prohibition, and then introduced a subsequent job protection scheme for US Prohibition Agents to act in the same way for other drugs.

    You might at least have kept the “drugs war” (why do your compatriots want to fight wars all the time?) to yourselves rather than on insisting that it be written into so many international agreements.

  34. SoCalLiberal

    “I remember opposing compassionate release for Susan Atkins in 2009 and again this year.”

    Didn’t she die in 2009?

  35. @ Old Nat

    You are right! I can’t believe I forgot that and confused the dates. Yes, she did die in 09′ and not this year in 10′. I still stand by my opposition to her release. Some people should not be compassionately released. She was one of them. Although I think at the time she was denied compassionate release, she technically was outside of prison as she was in a hospital.

  36. @ Old Nat

    “Or at least ensure that the activities will profit the criminals.

    It was bad enough that the US introduced Prohibition, and then introduced a subsequent job protection scheme for US Prohibition Agents to act in the same way for other drugs.

    You might at least have kept the “drugs war” (why do your compatriots want to fight wars all the time?) to yourselves rather than on insisting that it be written into so many international agreements.”

    The War on Drugs is one of the most stupid endeavors ever embarked upon. And I might add, it is completely destructive. As for why people like fighting wars, I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I mean, there are real wars that people like to fight that are pointless (like Iraq II) and then there are wars on concepts like the war on fat (that was big during the 90’s) or the war on terror. Or the war on crime. You can’t fight wars against concepts because concepts will always exist, therefore if you enter into one you can never win.

    Where the War on Drugs has been most destructive is what it does to offenders who have their lives destroyed because of criminal convictions (no one will hire them). Some states and localities have worked to fix this. In San Francisco, their (now-outgoing) DA started a program where drug offenders would complete a rehabilitation program and if successful, would have their non-violent drug offense convictions wiped clean. D.C. (which is not technically a state) enacted a great drug courts program. Rehabilitation for serious drug offenders and decriminalizing and regulating (and taxing) less serious drugs would be extraordinarily beneficial to us. But we’re not there yet.

    Speaking of D.C., I think I’ve finally found the U.S. political party that probably best matches up to the Scottish Nationalist Party…the D.C. Statehood Party!

  37. This is a right old mess for the Lib Dems, and one which they thoroughly deserve for the sheer awful politics that they have followed throughout the issue. What I believe is really damaging them is not the actual policy itself – if it was, Tories would also be experiencing polling pain.

    Instead, it is the clear fact that they have betrayed a clear electrocal conviction. Worse than that, they successfully negotiated an opt out on the issue within the coalition but are now not using it. Clegg has completely mishandled this issue and is earnestly trying to claim this is the right policy. It may be, but if so this exposes his poor judgement pre election. Either way it’s really not helpful.

    @Harry – “when his response to higher tuition fees is the equally unpopular graduate tax,”

    Is the graduate tax really unpopular? There may be poll evidence but I don’t know. My guess is that a ‘tax’ sounds better than a ‘fee’ becasue it is clearer that payment is made after the event and the linkage with earnings is more explicit, even though in practical terms there might not be much real difference.

    @Robert – “People need to look at the University fee’s structure proposed and realise it is much fairer than a graduate tax which the better off can avoid by simply moving overseas”

    Are you sure about this? In the last reading I did on the subject it was clear that EU students have to be treated the same as UK resident, and so will be offered the same loan facilities by law. If/when they leave the UK there is no facility to pursue them for the debt. Exactly the same as graduate tax.

  38. Decriminalisation is not the solution. Full legalisation is. Otherwise you keep the drug barons in business (with all the turf wars, adultered product and everything that goes with it) but deny the police the means to pursue them.

    And don’t restrict it to “less serious” drugs either. Have the courage of your convictions. The principle should be that if a person’s actions only harm themself (forgetting this nonsense about abstract “harm to society”) then they should not be proscribed. The degree of harm they cause themself should not be a factor.

    Full legalisation of everything from co-codamol to crack cocaine. That’s what I’ve believed for 20 years and still believe. Nothing I’ve seen in 3 years on a drug squad has changed my mind (quite the opposite).

  39. PMQs:

    While respecting Anthony’s comments policy, I would suggest that the Cameron/Miliband clash seems to be developing a significant personal dynamic.

    Whether this is a good thing or not, they do seem to be developing an particularly needlesome relationship.

  40. The Lib Dems are getting what they wished for, two party politics.

    From now on, it will be a permanent Con/Lib Dem coalition against Labour.

    Yes we may be over four years away from a GE in theory, but the coalition will not have any periods where there are no difficult decisions to be made or where no events happen to test them.

    With this being the case and with internal politics in both parties, this is not going to be a happy coalition, but is one they will be forced to maintain going into the GE.

    If at the next election Labour are the largest party in terms of seats, but fail to obtain a majority by say 30 seats, I cannot see the Lib Dems being able to join Labour in coalition. Instead I would expect them to remain with the Tories and if the numbers require reach out to DUP/UUP in order to stay in government.

    The state of the economy at the GE will decide the fate of the parties. The coalition are gambling on early cuts in the deficit, so less debt is built up, but this relies on growth in economy. With continuing problems in Europe and the US, both still strangled by debts and with banks still in a perilous state, there cannot be a high level of confidence in growth being achieved.

    If there is no growth and less money in the economy due to cuts, the country could end up in a downward spiral. This together with the many events, normal political dramas and difficult media, is not going to help the coalition partners, when they come to formulate their manifestos at the GE. It is not as if they can start attacking each other by criticising policies and changing tack. In terms of economic policy, they will be stuck together. This will give Labour the chance of offering an alternative, which they must start to develop, with assistance of independent economic/business experts.

    Just my take on this. On the other hand the economy could start to bloom and the Tories could win the GE with a majority and not need the Lib Dems.

  41. Socal Liberal
    I attended Aberdeen Academy and we ate chips in uniform with gay abandon but my coucin attended a school across the road which did indeed enact draconian punishments for eating in uniform in informal surroundings. I remember hiding his blazer and tie in a bush on an outing.
    For constitutional reasons there is no parallel to the SNP in the US perhaps with the exception of the Puorto Rico independance movement? There are no close parallels which made it particularly difficult for the US government and media to understand the dynamics surrounding Megrahi’s release.
    Archie Bunker? I think that shows what a lot of the remaining precious few Lib Dem supporters think of Labour. R Huckle’s picture of the Lib Dem future may be accurate but if so there must be a split because for a minority of Lib Dem MPs there is no future for them as auxiliary Tories. Hence my view that it is nearly time for everyone for themselves
    I was at a dinner last night where an SNP colleague from Aberdeenshire told me what a local MP had said which came as a shock even to me

  42. @RHuckle – “If at the next election Labour are the largest party in terms of seats, but fail to obtain a majority by say 30 seats, I cannot see the Lib Dems being able to join Labour in coalition. ”

    Don’t bet on it. If 2010 tells us anything, it is that Lib Dems will swing with whatever wind is blowing. How many people before May seriously predicted that Nick Clegg would happily ditch central election pledges and lead his troops in behind Cameron’s Tories?

    We are talking about politicians. Once the ballot boxes are counted and they are absolved from doing anything they promised voters, anything can happen. If power for the Lib Dems means Labour, then Labour it will be – only the terms will remain to be decided.

    This is the only sensible survival strategy for the Lib Dems long term. If they assume a position completely dependent on one of the two main parties, they will
    a) never achieve power in their own right and b) be subjected to humiliating defeat as and when the party they support has a bad GE, whenever that may be.

    Lib Dems will always keep their options open. If they don’t, they cease to be Lib Dems.

  43. @Alec
    “If power for the Lib Dems means Labour, then Labour it will be – only the terms will remain to be decided.”
    “Lib Dems will always keep their options open. If they don’t, they cease to be Lib Dems.”
    ——————————–
    Food for thought. Always the bridesmaid – but never sure which wedding they should be at ?

  44. @RHuckle – “If at the next election Labour are the largest party in terms of seats, but fail to obtain a majority by say 30 seats, I cannot see the Lib Dems being able to join Labour in coalition. ”

    Given their current levels of support, if Labour were 30 seats short the Lib Dems probably wouldn’t be enough to give them a majority ;)

    (He said, slightly flippantly. Actually predicting how votes would play into seats in the event the Lib Dems are still so low in the polls nearer the election will be an interesting challenge, albeit, probably one that’s a long way off).

  45. @ Nick Hadley
    The two parties now at a combined 82%? Now I know this is only one opinion poll, and we’re 4 or more years away from an election and the LD vote has catastrophically collapsed, but the combined Tory and Labour vote hasn’t been at this level since the 1950?s, has it? Look, anything’s possible in these extraordinary political times, but I think this poll is overstating both of the two main party’s real level of support.
    1979 was 81% and 1970 was 89.5%.

  46. @Cozmo – “Food for thought. Always the bridesmaid – but never sure which wedding they should be at ?”

    Indeed. I think where RHuckle got it wrong was in the assessment of the overall dynamic of three party politics. Essentially, to win power on their own the Lib Dems need to supplant one or other of the two main parties. For a while they were lining up to try and become the main opposition to labour, but Cameron has ensured this won’t happen in the foreseeable future.

    Next stop were the predictions during the early part of the campaign that they would supplant Labour. Labour can thank Brown’s performance in the last few days of the campaign for seeing to this notion for the time being, but the coalition arrangements also completely scupper this notion as well.

    So the Lib Dems are once again back to the position of king makers. In this scenario they must maintain both options as possibilities. In this, they will be aided by the other two parties, who will also retain coalition with Lib Dems as an option as a means to persuade soft Lib Dems into voting for them.

    In contrast to RHuckle, I see it as being in everyone’s interests to maintain the impression that a Lib Dem coalition with either party is possible, and for the Lib Dems their very survival depends on it. If it becomes clear that they will only support the Tories, they could be wiped out in Scotland, Wales and the North, and in this scenario why would Labour voters in the south (or even soft Tories supporters) be in the slightest bit inclined to help them win seats there?

  47. @BARNEY CROCKETT
    I received 6 strokes of the kane from the headmaster of Bushey Grammar School in Hertfordshire. My crime was eating fish & chips in school uniform in Watford High St. To compound this outrage, I was also laughing loudly and talking to a group of girls from Watford Girls Grammar School. These dastardly acts were witnessed by a member of staff passing by on the top floor of a bus. There was a significant cover up to follow, no mention of these events were past to the Entry Board for The Royal Military Academy . The Headmaster said “you are a very active chap Haines, and its the best place for you”.

  48. @nick Hadley – re Craig’s post. I don’t think this poll does understate Lib Dem support. They’ve always been something different – ‘the new politics’ as Clegg repeatedly stated during the campaign.

    Now they are dirty and sullied with precisely the same broken ideals and shifty politics that make us tire of the other parties in government. They have nothing left to offer. Unfair it may be, but talking to many people they are held in a large measure of contempt. It’s working much better for Cameron than he dared hope, and the Lib Dems are in serious, serious trouble.

  49. @Alec
    “and in this scenario why would Labour voters in the south (or even soft Tories supporters) be in the slightest bit inclined to help them win seats there?”
    ———————————–
    Good post, even more food for thought. Your last para (above) strikes a chord with me. I have voted LD tactically in the past but never again. I will vote Lab, even if all I achieve is to add to their overall tally. I wonder how many others will do the same ?

  50. Quote from Daily Telegraph

    “In fact, the pain Lib Dem ministers are suffering over tuition fees makes it all but impossible to contemplate Tories campaigning hard against them in a general election. “Are we really going to stand a candidate against Nick Clegg? Or against David Laws?” one senior Tory asks. It is now plain that the first plank of an informal pact is in place. Ministers of either party will be given a clear run at their seats on election day.

    This sounds OK for LDs until you start to imagine what it means in practice. It means merger of the Orange Book LDs into the Tory Party and NC would effectively be standing as a Tory. It seems unlikely that this would ever appeal to Sheffield voters.

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