There are three polls in the Sunday papers today – GB polls by YouGov and Opinium, and a new Scottish poll by Survation.

YouGov in the Sunday Times have tables here. Topline voting intention is CON 35%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 4%. The main part of the poll deals with Ed Miliband’s image, following his speech at the start of the week. As we know from countless other polls, Miliband’s ratings on best PM, being up to the job being a strong leader and so on are poor. The questions today were prodding at whether that is indeed something to do with “image” or even “looks” (I say “prodding” – I don’t think it’s really possible to answer the question conclusively).

Asked whether each man has the right policies or looks the part of PM Ed Miliband narrowly leads Cameron on policies: 38% think Ed Miliband has the right policies, compared to 32% who think David Cameron has the right policies. On looking and sounding like a Prime Minister 57% think Cameron looks the part, only 13% think Ed Miliband does. Of course, it easier to look like a Prime Minister when you actually ARE Prime Minister, but that doesn’t explain the gulf between the men’s ratings – YouGov also sometimes ask a question about the opposition leader “looking like a PM in waiting”. Ed Miliband tends to score around 20% or so, when Cameron was leader of the opposition he scored up in the forties.

Ed Miliband’s negative rating do not seem to be due to physical attractiveness, it’s not a case of Miliband being “too ugly” as John Humphrys once put it, as quite frankly neither of them are seen as attractive. Only 6% think Ed Miliband is attractive, but only 16% think David Cameron is. However asked if they physically look like a credible national leader Ed Miliband scores only 15%, David Cameron scores 55%. Clearly looking like a credible leader is not the same as looking physically attractive.

Does this matter at all? Well, the large majority of people say it SHOULDN’T matter – 80% said it shouldn’t matter much or shouldn’t matter at all when it comes to how the public vote at a general election. However, in practice people think it DOES – 55% think it actually does matter a lot or a fair amount. I suspect they are correct. I doubt very many people consciously sit down and think “I don’t think they’d make a good Prime Minister because they are funny looking”, but psychologically we all have many prejudices and biases about people based upon what they look and sound like. Unavoidably our views of politicians will be skewed by our gut impressions of their appearance – and the less closely people follow politics the more important those gut instincts and prejudices probably are.

And, my usual caveat about the Ed Miliband paradox: Labour are still in the lead. If people do think Ed Miliband doesn’t look like a leader, he hasn’t suddenly started looking that way; he’s unlikely to start looking less “leadery” as the election approaches. It’s already there in the price and it hasn’t stopped Labour being ahead in the polls. That doesn’t mean his image isn’t a negative for Labour (they could be further ahead without the problem), but it does mean Miliband as leader is not incompatible with Labour winning. The question, which I don’t think is currently answerable (except through wishful thinking one way or the other), is whether or not public perceptions of the opposition leader may become more salient as the election approaches and it becomes not just a judgement on the government, but a choice between two alternative governments.

Moving on, Opinium’s fortnightly poll for the Observer also has a three point Labour lead. Topline figures are CON 32%(+1), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 15%(-2), GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

Finally Survation have a new Scottish poll, which shows very little change on their previous. Topline referendum voting intentions are YES 40%(-1), NO 46%(nc), Don’t knows 14%(+1). Excluding don’t knows it’s YES 47%, NO 53%, the same as Survation’s last poll. Tabs are here

The poll was conducted between Wednesday and Friday so while it isn’t the first “post-Commonwealth Games” poll, it’s the first poll where we can really look for a Commonwealth Games effect. Thus far there’s no obvious sign of one.

206 Responses to “Sunday’s polls – YouGov, Opinium and Survation”

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  1. While the UKIP figure is absurdly high, it’s interesting to note that Ashcroft puts the big two parties DOWN two points on their combined share of the vote from 2010.

    My argument is not that the big two party’s combined share will fall in 2015 relative to 2010, but that the rise people predict is overstated.

    For all the genuine anti-LD sentiment out there from their former voters, many of whom certainly will not return, and for all the kickings that the coalition has taken from supporters of all parties, I would expect to see voters leaning towards the traditional two-party system more heavily than they currently seem to be.

  2. @ BigFatRon,

    Hamas do not recognise the right of Israel to exist within its recognised international borders

    That’s an understatement even worse than Colin’s. Hamas don’t recognise the right of Israel to exist at all. To quote their charter,

    “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

    I don’t really think it’s for outsiders to dictate to another people how they should conduct their liberation struggle or on what terms they should accept a settlement, but we should have no illusions about Hamas’s objective. They don’t want a two-state solution. They know they don’t have the military might to destroy Israel, so they want to prevent everyone else from agreeing to a two-state settlement until the humanitarian crisis in Palestine becomes so severe that the international community intervenes and imposes another solution, one with terms they like better.

    It’s not an accident that they’ve been building attack tunnels rather than bomb shelters with their hard-won cement and then provoking an attack from a country they know will flatten them militarily at the cost of thousands of civilian casualties. Dead Palestinian children are exactly what they want, if it will turn international opinion against Israel. We may find this “dead children for a viable state” calculation disturbing, but it’s one the Israelis understand perfectly. Here’s David Ben-Gurion:

    “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would chose the second—because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.”

    It’s a macabre strategy, and I think Hamas are overly optimistic about its chances of success (look at all the humanitarian crises the world ignores completely), but it’s not an irrational one. It’s probably the best hope they have for getting the settlement they want. They’re pursuing it very effectively- a two-state solution looks less likely than ever, no? And Israel’s international reputation is steadily declining- and arguably it’s what they were elected to do in the first place.

  3. @ Chris Hornet,

    Even those whose estimates are at the lower end of the scale currently believe that the Lib Dem percentage will hit double figures. That would constitute a rise of at least 2%, and if not from the big two, where is that coming from?

    DKs, Ukip, and the Greens. I do think they will get a little back from the main parties from incumbency effects and ABT voting, but you could easily get them up to 10-11% without any contributions from current Lab or Tory VI.

  4. @ Chris Hornet,

    Even those whose estimates are at the lower end of the scale currently believe that the Lib Dem percentage will hit double figures. That would constitute a rise of at least 2%, and if not from the big two, where is that coming from?

    DKs, Ukip, and the Greens. I do think they will get a little back from the main parties from incumbency effects and ABT voting, but you could easily get them up to 10-11% without any contributions from current Lab or Tory VI.

  5. How the hell can 38% vs 32% be in favour of Miliband’s policies over and above Cameron in second place? In the light of public opinion regarding Europe and immigration, hardly Labour strong points for the majority of voters. Rightly or wrongly a reasonable majority think the Tories handle the economy better than Labour, so where are Miliband’s policy victories exactly. I would hazard a guess most people questioned, have not a clue what Labour policies are.

  6. Very interesting set of economic GO vs EB questions in that Ashcroft Poll.

    I do like the way he thinks about his polling questions.

  7. @Roland Haines

    “How the hell can 38% vs 32% be in favour of Miliband’s policies over and above Cameron in second place?”

    Actually Ashcroft answers your question in his piece accompanying today’s “Ashcroft National Poll”. Put simply, if you don’t like cake it doesn’t matter whether Cameron’s is better than Miliband’s.

  8. There seems to be remarkable stability in the VI figures. When was the last time that the relative position of the major parties remained so constant for so long? Voters seem to have made up their minds about the parties.

    Doesn’t this suggest that most of the matters discussed here are already factored into the VI? Apart from some major unexpected event what is likely to alter voting intentions significantly between now and the GE?

  9. Roland,

    Labour lead, as I recall, on education, health and matters of social equality and wealth distribution. If you’re confused about why Tory leads on immigration/Europe/economy aren’t translating into poll leads, I’d suggest it might be either that those issues either aren’t as important as those where Labour lead (Europe) or that on those which are polling as high importance (immigration/economy), people prefer the Tories’ approach but don’t think they’re effective at carrying it out.

    On immigration I know a lot of anti-immigrant people who would certainly prefer the Tories to Labour, but still feel the Tories are useless at restricting immgration.

  10. Tony Cornwall,

    The last time we had such little fluctuation in the polls for this long seems to be between 1998 and 2000. Of course the parties were in quite different positions then.

  11. Mr Nameless…
    good point…

    “On immigration I know a lot of anti-immigrant people who would certainly prefer the Tories to Labour, but still feel the Tories are useless at restricting immgration”

    er…aka ….UKIP voters

  12. Ashcroft poll Table 3 (not adjusting for DK/refusers)

    GB :: Con 29.3% : Lab 33.7% : Lab lead 4.5%
    Eng : Con 31.6% : Lab 33.4% : Lab lead 1.9%

  13. Yes basically, but you also get the odd voter for other parties. Canvassing in May I encountered a house adorned with two posters – one Green with “Local” written on it, another UKIP with “Euro” underneath.

    I’ve also spoken to older, working class Labour voters following this train of logic: “I don’t like immigration and Labour won’t do anything about it, but the Lib Dems are worse, the Tories can’t do anything about it and UKIP can’t win, so I’ll vote Labour since you’re better in everything else”.

    It’s rare, but it happens. People vote far less logically than we on this site often assume.

  14. @Mr Nameless

    I think you’re being a bit harsh on your elderly supporters by calling them “illogical”; that train of reasoning seems perfectly logical to me – sometimes losing your ace is the best play available and there’s no point crying over it.

    With questions about “the economy” I wonder if there’s another source of confoundment. Most people (happily admit myself included) don’t have much idea about the economy, and are humble enough (excluded myself here) to just leave it out of their calculations. Faced with a poll they may say “X is better than Y” for the economy because they have heard it on the telly and feel obliged to have an opinion.

  15. Mr N

    “I’ve also spoken to older, working class Labour voters following this train of logic: “I don’t like immigration and Labour won’t do anything about it, but the Lib Dems are worse, the Tories can’t do anything about it and UKIP can’t win, so I’ll vote Labour since you’re better in everything else”.

    It’s rare, but it happens. People vote far less logically than we on this site often assume.”

    That actually looks perfectly logical to me (indeed far more logical than epithets like ‘tribal’ beloved of politectuals)

  16. PostageIncluded,

    You’re right. Their thinking is less illogical than just rather in-depth. I have come across some which are truly illogical – “I’m a socialist, so I’m voting UKIP” was my favourite, or the occasional Green voting former Tory.

    As a side note to any Greens or anyone with knowledge of the party – do you think there’s a problem in the Greens similar to what the Lib Dems had? That is, a big division between left-of-Labour sorts and centrists who care about the environment?

    I’ve met a few of both and I’m not sure how they’d be reconciled if the party became big enough to air its policy debates in the open. We already saw a microcosm in the debate between “Mangoes” and “Watermelons” in Brighton, I believe.

  17. mrnameless

    I’ve also spoken to older, working class Labour voters following this train of logic: “I don’t like immigration and Labour won’t do anything about it, but the Lib Dems are worse, the Tories can’t do anything about it and UKIP can’t win, so I’ll vote Labour since you’re better in everything else”.

    It’s rare, but it happens. People vote far less logically than we on this site often assume.

    Why is that illogical? It seems perfectly sensible to me that if you think immigration is important but none of Lab/Con/LD will do anything about it and UKIP don’t have a chance locally then you make your decision on other matters. Much more rational than saying “None of them will do anything, but I think Cameron will make the loudest pointless gestures on the topic”.

    And it may not be that rare either which might explain why we tend to see bigger Lab to UKIP swings in Ashcroft marginals where UKIP do have a chance of sneaking a win.

  18. “People vote far less logically than we on this site often assume.”

    Indeed. For what it’s worth I voted three different ways on the same day in 2014 (technically four if you count my never going to be applicable second preference on the Mayoral ballot).

    And while I’m yet to be convinced that it is going to come to fruition, that is by far the strongest argument for the why the Lib Dem Westminster vote might collapse in held seats where one would assume the voters would like the strongest challenger less. If that does happen then the Lib Dems would struggle to even get 20 seats, rather than current predictions by supporters and sceptics alike of somewhere in the 30s.

  19. Voting UKIP or saying you’re going to vote for them, clearly works….Cameron had no intention of holding an In/Out referendum at the beginning of the parliament…indeed he imposed a 3-line whip on his MPs in a pointless backbench debate not to vote for one in October 2011…

    in the end, it was only because of the rise of UKIP in 2012, that the PM conceded to have one in 2017, which he will now make a central part of his plea to those voters.

    So if you’re a eurosceptic or right wing conservative, the blackmail of voting UKIP works by shifting DC to the right.

  20. @Old Nat

    Now, now; don’t go scaring the children like that!

    I’ve been playing around on the Westminster Votes Scotland site with various combinations of %s. Apart from the apparent fact that the SNP have to be 7 points ahead of Labour in Scotland to overtake them in seat numbers, the present %s of Con and LD voters in Scotland is at an interesting point. Should the Tories remain at around 18 – 20% they will gain three or even four seats. But should the LDs climb back to around 12 or 13% they hold on to almost all of their seats in Scotland at the expense of the Tories, unless the SNP climbs above 25%. SNP starts to make major inroads only above 34%.

    Now I say all this because there is an assumption that we are in the polldrums – and across GB in general that would seem to be a fair comment. However, the %s gained (or lost) by the smaller parties (e.g. in Scotland the Tories) may well have unexpected consequences in a tight race and have a much bigger impact than present interpretations allow.

  21. John B

    I’ll go back to playing around with numbers on Scotland Votes – after we’ve seen polls after 19th September.

    How supporters of both sides respond to whatever the result is will be fascinating. Other than those who tribally support a party label, I doubt that many have thought in terms of how they will vote (for Holyrood or Westminster) in the post-referendum scenario.

  22. Mr Nameless
    Your use of ‘water melons and mangoes’ had me searching for the background. Does anyone know if Mr Kitkat’s name is a real one (I mean not a deed poll one)?

    You too had me searching. It was clever to mention the Eastbourne thread here, as of course we all rushed to it to take in your pearls of wisdom – and yes the latter did shine, I thought the scenarios very well written, IIMSS. I would go for number 2 if I was a predicting type.

  23. Colin,
    It would of course be you who helpfully posted that .As I recall Eoin was not a
    good friend of yours at all or anyone’s for that matter!

  24. Oldnat: for a No vote that’s wise, but I know how I’d expect it to go after a “Yes” vote.

    The fact that this referendum is reasonably close with a lead to “No” clearly shows that the referendum is nowhere near as much about Scottish patriotism as it is about the back pocket (if it were about national identity a “Yes” would be a foregone conclusion, because the Scots are as proud of their identity as the inhabitants of almost any independent country in Europe).

    I don’t judge any voter for that: I’d do precisely the same in their situation. Besides, it’s precisely why UK-wide the richest are more likely to vote Conservative and the poorest more likely to vote Labour.

    However, if there is a Yes vote, I’d expect an unbelievably large swing towards the SNP in Westminster. Not because they had gotten significantly more popular, but because in those circumstances I think they would (possibly incorrectly) be considered capable of driving a harder bargain than Labour.

  25. @Howard
    The lovely Mr Kitkat got his name from birth – an old westcountry name it is said.

    Could be worse by a long way, eg. “Smelley” or “Hole”.

  26. Howard,

    I’m fairly sure it’s his real name. There have been stranger.

  27. For what it’s worth, my name isn’t real, and I suspect nor is Mr. Nameless’s :)

  28. The brouhaha over the wreath tributes is becoming clearer.

    According to a spokesperson for Poppy Scotland, the wreaths were sent ahead to Glasgow in advance whilst the cards were sent to the Dept of Culture, Media & Sport where a note was made on each card for attaching to the various wreaths before being laminated to protect them from the ravages of our weather.

    The only politician allowed to write a personal tribute was the PM.

  29. Thanks for that, Bramley. Did you find out who arranged the semi-illiterate handwriting and the photo-op for the wreaths too?

    Is it just me, or does anyone else feel rather uncomfortable with the idea of a “personalised wreath” anyway. I don’t see why any of them had to be laid with “From So-and-So” written all over them. The whole point of the ceremony is to remember the dead, not the living.

  30. I don’t expect we will ever find out who wrote the cards although my own opinion is that the ‘writing’ was so identical as to possibly even have been printed.

    Downing Street have refused to comment on the matter so make of that what you will.

  31. @ Jim Jam

    From your time Israel what was your sense of the attitude of typical Israelis to the so called Settler communities. More bother than it is worth. But the expanding population of Israeli Arabs (Palestinians with Israeli citizenship; they have various names for themselves) means that Israel needs more territory to accommodate everybody.

    Hamas imo should be condemned but I ask how did they manage to grow to such a size as to be able to displace moderate Palestinian organisations in Gaza? I will have to oversimplify, or my answer will be long: It is a vicious circle. Palestinians who live in Gaza would like to be able to work – or even live – in Israel because the standard of living is higher. Whenever Israel allowed this, terrorism increased so they had to reduce it again. Having created the conditions of resentment (assuming we accept that Hamas do promote attacks on Israel), Hamas then capitalised on it. Why would the people in Gaza vote for the people who are ultimately ‘responsible’ for adding to their difficulties? I can only say: Angry, resentful people who feel they have nothing to lose are not always rational.

    Has Israeli State actions contributed to this down the years? Only to the extent that Israel has prioritized the needs & security of Israeli citizens (both Israeli & Arab Israeli) above Palestinians in Gaza. I happen to think that the governments of almost all countries would do the same.

    I will also mention that, in my experience, the opinions & lives of Israelis, Arab Israelis & Palestinians are not as polarised as the politics make it appear to we ‘outsiders’. Therefore, my heart goes out to the Palestinian people of Gaza but my head knows that their leaders are taking them for fools.

    Were Israel to fall, the land would not be ‘given back’ to those poor people crowded in the Gaza strip. They would be crushed along with Israel; I am convinced that their best hope for the future is that Israel prevails. Israel wants a solution, albeit mainly on Israel’s terms. Terms which would, in my opinion, eventually benefit the people of Gaza. But I think Hamas do not want any solution; they want another holocaust.

  32. PI
    I am busily avoiding exposure to all this stuff about August 4th today; too many royalty and presidential photo ops. One could have imagined that some bright spark could have dreamt up ‘Wreathgate’. They are the times we live in I am afraid.

  33. Bramley Postage,
    Apparently only the Queen and Prime Minister can write a personalised message on the wreaths.

  34. Postage,
    Yes ,that handwriting was Neanderthall man.

  35. AMBER

    What a forthright & informed post.

    And it took not a little courage for someone of your political persuasion to write it.

    Thank you.

  36. Amber, thank you, also for your post.

  37. ANN In Wales

    Eoin was (is) certainly left wing. And so our first exchanges here weren’t promising. But we came to a number of topics of some sort of mutual agreement. And I took his side in the lambasting he received from Rob Sheffield ( I received the Sheffield treatment too-so I suppose it was mutual sympathy)

    When he emailed me to ask him to “support” his Green Benches blog I agreed-and went over there for a while.
    Things changed there though, and when he censored my criticisms I left.
    I was wrong about him.

    Actually he did have “friends” here-I can think of one or two who would say they they are-though some don’t post here these days.

  38. Colin ,
    As I remember Eoin was very argumentative and managed to fall out with just
    About everyone,He also dominated this site,posting what seemed like. 24 hours a day.I would say that his political affiliations are not far off he who shall
    Not be named.But I think this is a rather unseemly discussion and we must not
    take this any further.



    @” The whole point of the ceremony is to remember the dead, not the living.”

    Precisely-so a personal note from the sender, expressing their reason for remembering, is more appropriate than just the sender’s name.

  40. @Howard
    I think you are very wise.

    @Ann in Wales
    Protocol I can understand (and approve of, in fact – much to the dismay of more radical chums). Disrespectfully careeless scrawl I can’t understand, and the Department of C, M and S should be ashamed of themselves for letting these things go out. As should the journalist who made the cheap shot tweet. I don’t expect they will be for one moment


    @”he who shall Not be named”

    Give me a clue-I’m on tenterhooks.

  42. ChrisHornet

    I don’t think it’s that simple.

    For Westminster, one could foresee a significant swing to the SNP in the event of either a Yes or a No vote. Under Yes, for the reasons you describe. Under No, to “keep Westminster’s feet to the fire” over further devolution of powers.

    Again, under either scenario, a significant realignment of Unionist support (as opposed to simply those who chose to vote No) between the 3 parties (or 4 if you count UKIP), becomes a significant possibility.

  43. @Colin
    You are with the moderns on this point, and I am with the ancients. I think of Yeats’ line:

    “Only in custom and in ceremony are innocence and beauty born”

    which I first read 40 years ago and have kept with me since. I can’t see customs or ceremonies as being “personal”. And don’t get me started on those ghastly personalised wedding vows!

  44. Spearmint – careful about conflating Hamas with ALL Palestinians, and all Palestinians with Islam.

    The “success” of Hamas is due to the Israelis promoting them in order to weaken the secular Fatah (and there is also the mysterious death of Yasser Arafat which played into Hamas rising up).

    Also, you’d never know it from the media, but 30% of Palestinians worldwide are Christians (hence the reason Arafat used to always mark Christmas in Bethlehem which is still a Palestinian-Christian majority town). Most Christian Palestinians have successfully managed to emigrate (mainly to the USA including the late Edward Said). But they were displaced just as much as the Muslim Palestinians.

    As for the violence – Israel came into being through terrorist activities (see the King david hotel massacre and other atrocities, mainly against the British who were blocking them).

    However by contrast, the Palestinians spent the first three decades after their land got pinched trying out Gandhi-style peaceful protests, and the shame of it was they got absolutely nowhere with that. The world thought, “Someone must pay for what happened to Jews and it can’t be Germany, we’ve got to be nice to them unlike after WW1, in case they start another war, so let those brown people pay”.

    It wasn’t till Fatah hijacked an airline (without hurting crew or passengers) in the ’70s that people started noticing their plight. Can you blame the Palestinians for thinking, “we’re proved that peaceful protest doesn’t work”?

    As for “who really owns that land” – if you look at ancient maps, the coastal area is ancient Philistine, the ancestors of the Palestinians. Judea was actually the west bank. But some of those Jews in the West Bank converted to Christianity (the first converts) and some later into Islam. The Zionists took the coastal area because it was the only thing they could seize in the late ’40’s, it wasn’t their homeland, nor a “land without people” as they later claimed (how truly awful that they believed that if you were not Jewish you were not a person and hence the land was “empty”…)

    By the time of the British mandate, the whole lot, ancient Philistine and ancient Judea, Christians and Muslims, were living pretty harmoniously. And yes, there were Jews in that mix too, living in harmony with the rest.

    Is it right you should be turfed from your land (the coastal areas) to pay for the sins of Germans you never had any contact with? Is it right that your land is being progressively taken from you in the West Bank simply because your Jewish ancestor converted 2000 years ago? Even if you have real Hebrew DNA while the pretendy Jews from Russia and the USA have none?

    Should people forfeit their property just because their ancestor choose to change their religion? And should random people be made to pay for the sins of other completely separate people?

    And if you found yourself in that situation, and peaceful protests only got you ignored (Good little dumb animals, see, we told you this was a land without people) or the other choice was fighting because at least that way people acknowledged that you existed – which would you choose?

    What if the Zionists hadn’t chosen Palestine for their state but sought to annex Wales for their homeland “we know you hadn’t anything to do with the atrocities of WW2, but we need a homeland and as you are not Jewish, this is a land without people” Would you acquiesce (“of course you can have my land and businesses, after what you’ve been through, you deserve it”) or would you fight?

    I personally think that a chunk of Germany should have been annexed as the homeland for the Jews and this business of making random brown foreigners pay for the sins of Europeans wouldn’t have arisen.


    Thanks-first time anyone has called me that for a while !

    I am certainly uncomfortable with the Diana type mass flower heaps & all that goes with it.

    I agree that ceremony is so important on this occasion-how can one begin to pay tribute to the endless ranks of the fallen without the quiet formality of ceremony?

    But I don’t see the point of a wreath unless the sender says why they sent it.

  46. Colin,
    Oh come on,you know exactly who I mean.Shall we stop this now,as I suggested earlier.

  47. Postage,
    I think that is a line from Yeats beautiful poem about the birth of his daughter?

  48. ANN

    I wouldn’t have asked if I knew. I was intrigued to know who you equated Eoin to.

    But no matter-happy to leave things there.

  49. @Candy

    Very much agree with your post.

    @Amber Star

    Israel is committing war crimes of that there is no doubt. The Labour Party is too involved with the Friends of Israel even to admit that.

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