Time for a round up of Sunday’s polls, with new stuff in the Sunday papers from YouGov, Survation, Opinium and ICM.

YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%. The poll also asked a series of questions about how people would vote with different Labour leaders. In a control question asking how people would vote if the leaders remained Cameron, Miliband and Clegg the answers were CON 33%, LAB 31% (so the effect of reminding people of the current party leaders still seems to produce a slight positive Cameron effect or negative Miliband effect). If Yvette Cooper were Labour leader the position would be the same, a two point Conservative lead. If Ed Balls was the leader it would be worse, a three point Conservative lead. In contrast with Alan Johnson as leader Labour would be two points ahead (CON 31%, LAB 33%.

I’ll give my usual caveats about questions like this – people are answering them when on very little information, they don’t know what policies or priorities those alternative leaders would set, how the media would react to them and so on. In the same poll, YouGov found that only 42% of people think they could recognise Yvette Cooper from a photo… if you don’t even know what Yvette Cooper looks like, I’m guessing you don’t have a thorough understanding of what she would prioritise as Labour leader. It’s a response based on a very crude impression of those potential leaders based on what tends to be the very limited public awareness of opposition politicians. Nevertheless, those crude first impressions count, so it’s a good sign for Alan Johnson.

Survation also had a new poll with topline figures of CON 29%(+2), LAB 34%(+3), LDEM 6%(-3), UKIP 23%(-1), and they too asked a series of hypothetical voting intention questions with different Labour leaders. In the Survation poll they displayed a biography and played a video clip of each potential leader and asked people questions about them before the questions. This allowed them to include people with extremely low public awareness like Chuka Umunna, though does of course rely upon the choice of biogs and video clips (given bias is often in the eye of the beholder, choosing clips that even those who don’t like the eventual results think are fair is incredibly tricky). The control question with Ed Miliband had a Labour lead of 4 points. In the Survation poll Yvette Cooper did worse than Miliband (neck and neck with the Tories), Andy Burnham just the same (4 point lead), Alan Johnson and Chuka Umunna did best – both extending Labour’s lead to 8 points. A voting intention question asked after video clips of Labour leaders is obviously skewed towards Labour, but it’s the relative performance between the different leaders that counts, and again it’s good for Alan Johnson, and now also for Chuka Umunna.

Meanwhile the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer has topline figures of CON 29%(-4), LAB 32%(-1), LDEM 9%(+3), UKIP 19%(+1).

Finally there was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph. As usual with ICM/Sunday Telegraph polls, this asked the public to predict vote shares rather than ask people how they would vote themselves. The average response now has the Conservatives getting slightly more votes than Labour.

281 Responses to “Sunday polls and alternative Labour leaders”

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  1. I’d be suspicious of that crossbreak, given that it’s a crossbreak. I’m surprised there’ve been so few Scottish polls recently.

  2. I think that Conservative minority government – unless it can get within sight of 326 seats and thus get the unionists to help – will need a C & S agreement to keep things going.

    LD’s might be interested, they may well have no more votes to lose on the left.

    Fixed term parliaments are going to be interesting with a minority government. It used to be that a government in such a state could consider calling another election quite soon, if things look better for them. Now they will be waiting for parliament as a whole to agree to that(?)

  3. I agree that crossbreaks need to be viewed with some caution but in the last ten days there have been similar figures from both YouGov and Populus in a few polls .
    Personally I would expect those SNP/Lab figures to be at least reversed by next May.

  4. The trouble with a C & S arrangement is that the LibDems will still be blamed for propping up the Tories and have even less influence than at present.

  5. @Graham

    “Personally I would expect those SNP/Lab figures to be at least reversed by next May.”

    Any reason why?

  6. A tory minority government, if the blues have fewer than 300 seats, is almost impossible.

    the point is that the tories, if they lose rochester, will have 304 seats in the house of commons, incl. the speaker. So 303 MPs who can vote in divisions.

    I think they would struggle to run a minority administration for any length of time. It’s practically impossible to conceive of this few MPs passing a budget, without a coalition. I can’t see the lib dems propping the blues up again. If they did , they would essentially subsume their party into the tory party…2015 will be a mess, but i can’t really see the tories back in government

  7. Roger Mexico Survation (6th Nov)
    Well spotted, that small print on the second page, and how sloppy of Survation not to make it clear which table was which. It didn’t make a fat lot of difference except to the LDs, as you point out in your workings. What was so strange is that on the last page (9) they attempt to give an explanation for each table, but fail to make any differences in their write up of them.

    Thanks for your trouble anyway.

  8. Mr Nameless

    Scottish crossbreaks in the Friday Populus poll also showed that SNP and Labour were coming closer together.

    However, as the sample is so small in all crossbreaks I don’t think you can work out what is really happening on the ground.

  9. @Graham.

    I suspect from your wording ‘a few polls’ you are picking and choosing to fit what you would like to see.

    The crossbreaks are all over the place, as you would expect from crossbreaks.
    Not only are the samples small but they aren’t weighted for the Scottish population.

  10. @Cloudspoter
    Thanks for your post last evening. I was not asserting that no sane person would vote Labour. What I was trying to get across was the uncertainty of the whole thing. It is very far from being settled in either direction yet, however much we may want it to be.

  11. @Statgeek

    I expect the post-Referendum emotional spasm to have largely ended by May. The focus on Westminster and Labour v Tory battle will encourage traditional Labour voters to ‘return home’ under a new leader Scotland.By-elections ,polls and Holyrood elections in the last Parliament led to predictions of big SNP gains at Labour’s expense – yet it didn’t happen. Similar narrative back in 1977/78.

  12. @ John P
    No – I am well aware of the limitations of crossbreak data – and that on some days the SNP remain well ahead. The narrower leads do,however, seem to have become a bit more frequent compared to 2 – 3 weeks ago.

  13. @Mr Jones
    Thanks for your posts last evening. Let me explain that I am not coming from a position of great confidence in “Tory austerity”. What I was trying to do was put some meat on the bones of the attitudes that come from the polls we read. You know the kind of thing, “we should double the size of the armed forces and reduce defence spending”.
    In my opinion this is not the board to argue what “works” and what does not. To try to answer your question as to why the Conservative party is moving “forward”, like a demented crab, I think it is still toxicity.

  14. @Graham

    Having been around in ancient times myself (1977-79) I can report that back then there was no equivalent ’emotional spasm’ as you put it. The situation today is also very different in that, unlike 1977-9, there is today no clear ideological water between Labour and the Conservatives – except, perhaps on Europe. Indeed, they were very happy to be ‘better together’.

    So much depends on whichever of the candidates wins the leadership contest. With Christmas and New Year occupying most people’s attention for a month after the new leader is installed there won’t be much time to make any significant difference to the present situation, but with a clear run and no ‘noises off’ from Westminster it may be that significant inroads into the ‘don’t knows’ might be made by Labour.

    But don’t forget: almost 45% of those who voted voted ‘Yes’. Most of those who voted Yes are not going to change their opinions over night (or even over the next six months) and vote for the Tory/Labour establishment unless some real changes to the present set up are brought forward by Labour in support of the Smith Commission. IMO

  15. @Anthony

    Interesting thoughts on the salience of likeability versus perceptions of capability. Logic would say that capability/suitability for the PM role would trump likeability, but in this apolitical era I wonder if that’s so any longer. It was often said that Bush did for Gore and Kerry not so much on competence but on the basis of who the voters would most like to go out for a drink with and who was more likely to make them laugh. I think it’s probably a bit more nuanced and complicated than that, but likeability can influence voters with loosely held political views and loyalties. Think Clegg at the last election and the power, allegedly, of his ability to remember the names of the questioners in the Leaders TV debates. Apparently, he looked down the camera better than Cameron and Brown too!!

    On a different subject, I was listening to a discussion on the radio this morning about the current political and polling travails of both Labour and the Tories. Someone made what I thought was an interesting point about how the two big mainstream parties were struggling to come to terms with the new post-two party hegemonic world, causing frustration and internal tensions. The trusty old bi-polar political levers no longer work; Labour down, Tories up, and vice versa. It’s old hat now where we see both parties sinking like stones simultaneously as a host of smaller parties feast on their carcasses.

    I’m sure a lot of the current unhappiness within Labour about Miliband has been caused by the frustration felt with the opinion polls. In the old world, still inhabited by many Labour MPs, the orthodoxy would say that Labour should be streets ahead of a divided and unpopular government. Why isn’t it happening, they ask? Must be the Leader, they think. Equally, the Tory MPs and strategists are asking why they aren’t well ahead of an opposition led by a politician with almost historically poor personal approval ratings and with an economy now in its second year of recovery. Must be Europe/UKIP/Cameron etc. Hence their obsession with UKIP and some MPs decamping.

    The truth is that neither party is adapting very well to the fundamentally new electoral and political world in which they now find themselves. Two old dinosaurs thrashing around in the dark and murk, often coming up with old answers to new questions.

    The real question is which one of them can best come to terms with the widespread cynicism that exists with traditional old mainstream politics and respond appropriately. Of course, that assumes either of them is capable of doing so.

    Regicide is old politics and the public won’t buy it any more.

  16. @Graham.

    Fair enough, although I haven’t noticed that.

    Sunday’s Yougov, for instance, was 44-25.

  17. “It was often said that Bush did for Gore and Kerry not so much on competence but on the basis of who the voters would most like to go out for a drink with and who was more likely to make them laugh.”

    Would that be the Bush who was a reformed alcoholic? Yes, a lot of people laugh at him today.

  18. @James Peel
    You say you cannot see the Tories in government. I cannot see E Miliband as PM and N Clegg as DPM. I do not believe that two gentlemen, who enjoy the level of popularity and respect, that this pair do, could lead an administration.

  19. John B
    It would help if you could signal you’re talking Scottish politics.

    “So much depends on who wins the leadership election”.

    I thought Ed must have stepped down and I’d missed it.

  20. @Crossbat11

    “These programmes have much greater capability to influence the political narrative, watched and listened to as they are by vastly more people than read right wing newspapers.”

    True. That would lead us on to a discussion of how readiness to parrot unquestioningly whatever agenda the right wing press sets leads the broadcasters to unwittingly or not throw out of the window any…….

    Better not go there though, at least not on this site.

  21. HOWARD

    Of course I meant Coalition. Silly me. ;-)

  22. GRAHAM
    “For a Tory minority Govt to be viable there would have to be Opposition MPs who would refuse to support a Labour No Confidence motion. Who would they be?”

    You’re working on the assumption Labour will win the next GE,, Im not!!

  23. Surely the fixed term parliament thing will get repealed within the first 20 minutes of the any new parliament?

  24. That’s it ladies and gentlemen the game is up!

    We have a cross-break today showing the SNP on 36% and Labour 30%. The ground has shifted, SNP are in meltdown, it must be the leadership crises, no I think it’s more to do with Ed’s popularity sneaking northwards.

    Remember people…A cross break is only a good cross break if it suits you. Personally I tend to take notice of actual 1000 plus samples like the 3 we had over the past few weeks but never mind them, we have a sub-sample today to chew on.

  25. NickP – “Surely the fixed term parliament thing will get repealed within the first 20 minutes of the any new parliament?”

    I wouldn’t have imagined so. Cameron presumably supports it, having introduced it, and current Labour party policy is that they support it and would retain it (Stephen Twigg reiterated it in the Commons last month – top of column 1108 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141023/debtext/141023-0003.htm)

    Obviously, if there was a very hung Parliament, a party wanted an early election and its repeal was the easiest way to achieve that it might get repealed, but if there’s a stable government of some sort formed after the election I’d imagine it will now stay.

  26. NickP
    Fixed term parliaments being repealed within first 20 minutes..

    Why something which is normal in most of the democracies should not be normal for the UK and has just been supported by voters in a poll on the subject is not clear to me. Have you inside knowledge about who will have the majority of seats in 2015 and what their (combined) policy will be on this? Is such a proposal adopted by any party?

  27. MrNameless

    I’d be suspicious of that crossbreak, given that it’s a crossbreak. I’m surprised there’ve been so few Scottish polls recently.

    The Populus Scottish crossbreaks are particularly dodgy because we know that in the past Populus have made adjustments that massively downgrade the VI of Parties that have increased their support from 2010. After much mockery they have changed things so that their UKIP figures aren’t completely ridiculous, but their SNP figures may suffer from the same effect and of course are terribly variable due to sample size and lack of weighting.

    But as far as ‘proper’ Scottish polls go, there have been three in the last fortnight. Given how rare they normally have been, especially with Westminster VI, this is a deluge (and there’s supposed to be a Survation coming). You’re obviously a hard man to please.

    The polls with Westminster VI were:

    YouGov/Times (27-30 Oct):

    SNP 43%
    Lab 27%
    Con 15%
    UKIP 6%
    Lib Dem 4%
    Green 4%
    Other 1%

    Ipsos-MORI/STV (22-29 Oct):

    SNP 52%
    Lab 23%
    Con 10%
    Lib Dem 6%
    Green 6%
    UKIP 2%
    Other 1%

    Panelbase/Wings (30 Oct – 5 Nov):

    SNP 45%
    Lab 28%
    Con 13%
    UKIP 6%
    Lib Dem 3%
    Green 1%
    Other *

    One other thing was the non-effect of LTV – MORI’s certain to vote figures were the same as their general ones – so if people were uncertain how to vote that’s now resolved to at least normal levels.

    These are all pretty consistent and indicate the considerable pro-SNP surge that some of us have been predicting

    Modded post with all links to follow

  28. 5 year parliaments are surely not the norm. I understood that 4y terms were much more usual.

  29. YouGov final tables are here:


    Containing Westminster and Holyrood (C & R) VIs, IndyRef (now, then and future), Leaders trust for a wide range, Devo powers and SLab questions. (An earlier dataset did not contain all these or a crossbreaks).

    MORI did their traditional bit by bit striptease:

    Westminster VI:


    Leaders’ ratings:




    Holyrood VIs:


    (All links are to articles from which links to tables and MORI historical charts can be found)

    Panelbase/Wings articles are also in chunks:

    Westminster VI and IndyRef redux:


    EU Referendum and related:


    Labour leadership:


    Devo powers and procedures:


    and the combined tables for all the above are now out here:


  30. For the fixed-term parliament act to be repealed, there would have to be a majority for doing so. If you’re in a minority government, that might be difficult to achieve.

    And say it does get repealed, does the situation automatically revert to the situation it was enacted, or is there a sort of constitutional limbo instead? Alternative arrangements would seem to be necessary, and again with a minority government – agreement is going to be difficult.

  31. AC

    I was not actually assuming any such thing – but that a Labour Opposition might table a Vote of No Confidence in the minority Tory Govt. To defeat such a motion the Tories would likely need some Opposition votes – or abstentions.I simply asked who they might be.

  32. How rich are you compared to how rich you think you are?www.channel4.com/programmes/how-rich-are-you

    I thought 33% were poorer and 67% richer than me – apparently it’s more like 10/90.

  33. KeithP – “does the situation automatically revert to the situation it was enacted, or is there a sort of constitutional limbo instead?”

    We don’t know. It is something that has been debated in recent months, there is no clear answer. Obviously in practice repeal would require primary legislation, and that legislation itself might make things clear, but what happens if it doesn’t is uncertain.

    Prior to the FTPA there was no statutory footing for dissolving Parliament. It was the personal prerogative of the monarch, constrained by convention (indeed, it was one of the very best examples of the sheer bizarreness of Britain’s unwritten constitution that the official statement of the principles defining when a monarch would refuse a dissolution was a *pseudonymous* letter to the Times.)

    Anyway, there’s been some debate about whether setting up statutory rules for the dissolution extinguished the previous royal prerogative, or whether it just superseded it for the time being and it would pop back up if the FTPA was repealed. We don’t know. I expect in practice any repeal bill would have to make it clear.

  34. @Valerie

    Apologies! I thought the context explained the leadership contest to which I was alluding. Will try better…..


    Well, the SNP lead was fun whilst it lasted……. and will continue to be fun as long as it does last……
    A return to previously ‘normal’ Labour VIs in Scotland is yet to occur, however, and there is a lot of rough road yet to travel. As I said above, much will depend on who gets elected and what effect, if any, the new Labour leader in Scotland manages to have…. Nicola, on the other hand, seems to have had a fairly smooth ride so far…..

    And when it comes to the GE which party/ies will have the troops on the ground?

  35. As I wrote last week the EM leadership probs just feeds on itself and grows fatter. It is hard, even for an EM supporter to have “confidence” when Ops keep saying just how unpopular he is.

    However, the truth IS somewhat less than that and, given the remarkable rise of UKIP, it is hardly surprising that the two major parties are also so low in in the polls.

    But, underneath all of that, the thing to watch is the Tory VI which is flat, and has been for ages, and the gap, which is more often than not to Labour’s advantage.

    Unless an election campaign can really convince more people that Ed is even worse than he has already been painted then I don’t see that changing: in fact it is more likely, I would have thought, to change in the other direction on the basis of “blimey, he’s not as awful as they said.”

    Similarly with Scotland, my guess is that a lot of the SNP gains will be reduced as the choice between lots of SNP MPs and a Tory led Govt or lots of Labour MPs and a Labour lad Govt becomes clearer and of very immediate concern.

    Many of Scotch chums have already pointed out how mature the electorate there are at differentiation between Holyrood and Westminster.

  36. Graham,

    Which minor party opposition MPs would fail to support a no-confidence vote tabled against a minority government ?

    Any MP / party not in a position to fight an immediate GE. This might be driven by calculations of self-interest, but is an important factor. It would apply equally whichever major party is in government.

    The position is likely to be dynamic – changing over time as party finances recover from the 2015 GE and the HoC maths evolves due to deaths, defections etc.

  37. I just watched Ed Miliband’s CBI speech. It seemed quite good to me at least, he looked like a PM. I think all this fuss may actually help him, he has the spotlight on him now and if he carries on like this I think the press’ campaign could end up turning against them.

    But then we do have P_M_Q’s coming up and they all look like school kids there… someone needs to coach him how to look like a PM there too.

  38. Paul H J
    If minority MPs act in that way they will be accused of propping up the Tories.

  39. @AC – “Remember people…A cross break is only a good cross break if it suits you. Personally I tend to take notice of actual 1000 plus samples like the 3 we had over the past few weeks but never mind them, we have a sub-sample today to chew on.”


    I seem to recall you were one of the first to start flagging up Scottish cross breaks when the SNP were storming ahead, and fair play – these were indeed the harbingers of real polling shifts.

    Perhaps a good rule of thumb would for each person to personally adopt a favoured methodology, and then stick to it, rather than sing the praises of cross breaks one week and full sample dedicated polls the next.

    My favoured methodology is to proceed with snout down, grubbing around in the dirt for whatever grimness I can find. It keeps me as happy as a pig in sh!t.

  40. An interesting and fairly balanced assessment of Miliband’s polling from Peter Kellner (also on the Website That Must Not Be Linked To, but this has better graphics:


    He highlights the change in the ‘Up to the job of PM” question among Labour supporters – though given the sheer number of “How Crap is Ed” questions they have put out over the last few week, there was bound to be something that produced a result.

    However I can’t help thinking that (as R&D hints) most of Miliband’s bad ratings are because people say he is bad – endless repeated ‘conventional wisdom’ often by people supposed to know better.

  41. It’s low salience, and theoretically one of the Tories trump cards, but I wonder whether the focus on sensible discussion of EU/UK futures at the CBI today will help Labour.

    Cameron is being inexorably drawn towards an ‘out’ position some time after the next GE, which would be horror for most international UK based businesses, including in the City.

    Ed, by contrast, avoided the elephant trap of the ‘referendum now’ brigade and appears sensible, moderate and safe.

    Businesses are very, very nervous about an accidental departure from the EU, and seeing a PM having to give reassurance that a referendum won’t create uncertainty and harm business is a bit like the team owner giving their full confidence in the manager after a string of poor results.

    We know where that ends up.

  42. Meanwhile back to polling… latest Ashcroft poll shows no change from previous one with a 1% Conservative lead.

  43. @R&D

    ‘Similarly with Scotland, my guess is that a lot of the SNP gains will be reduced as the choice between lots of SNP MPs and a Tory led Govt or lots of Labour MPs and a Labour lad Govt becomes clearer and of very immediate concern.’ (Presumably you meant ‘Labour led’….).

    Many Labour supporters on this site are rather hoping that when the choice is put starkly: “Vote Labour or have a Tory government” then the Scots will ‘see sense’ and vote Labour.

    Now, whilst you are right in saying that the Scottish electorate is quite sophisticated in its approach to voting, you cannot have it both ways. If large numbers of Scots see their principal hope (for the time being) in eliminating as much as possible the power of the Tories to have a big impact on Scottish life then the obvious thing is to vote for those who are going to produce as much Home Rule for Scotland as possible – strangely enough, it seems at present, (other than the SNP) the Tories!

    Now, whilst the Scots are unlikely to vote Tory, many will not vote Labour unless the Labour party puts forward real powers for Holyrood as an option. And this will mean taking on board EV4ELs as a real possibility.

    Furthermore, Labour keeps telling the Scots to vote Labour out of solidarity with their fellow urban dwellers in England. But delving into the dim and distant past (well, at least to the 1980s and 1990s!) I wonder if these are the same areas of England that voted Tory when Scotland voted overwhelmingly Labour? When did they ever show solidarity wih Scotland?

    Now, my advice to Labour supporters, FWIW would be not to take anything for granted. (The same advice, obviously, goes to the SNP). Many Scots are waiting to see what happens, what they are offered, how seriously the promises of more powers are kept to etc. Scots will not prop up a Labour party which otherwise shows no wish to move in directions wanted by the Scots. We”ve had enough of that!

    On the other hand, there are still six months to go. Labour have plenty of time to put their cards on the table and tell us what they would do. And the Tories have plenty of time to commit hari-kari (or whatever it is called) over Europe. But I would not assume that the Scots will revert to the status quo ante, just because Labour supporters in the south want them to….

  44. Actually, these days, a week is a terribly short time in politics. A day can seem to last forever. And some months don’t happen at all.

  45. @John B / Graham

    Also bear in mind that the SNP’s membership is way up in comparison to other parties’ memberships.

    Oh and social media. The Westminster machine is less able to spin and control as it once did. People across the entirety of Scotland (or the UK) can stay in touch and compare what politicians are saying (or not saying).

    The press can possibly drive a story, but in the past, people discussed the story the next day at work and waited for the next story that evening, whereas now they can be online all evening discussing it, confirming truths, busting myths an so on.

    The voters might not be any more savvy or enlightened, but they are more likely to be checking what is said with people outside of their house, area or even country.

    Does this mean there won’t be a swing back to Labour? Not necessarily, but I think that Labour will have to have vow-honouring policies for Scotland in the 2015 campaign if they want the VI back, and if they promise, get elected and then don’t deliver, forget it.

  46. @John B

    “Nicola, on the other hand, seems to have had a fairly smooth ride so far…..”

    Oh, gawd, not another Christian Name only politician. Boris and now Nicola.

    I thought they only did things like this in ridiculously twee games like tennis.

  47. @Statgeek

    I agree. But I’m trying to remain neutral!
    (That may come as a shock to some!)

    My point is that the Scots have not made up their minds re: 2015. And if there is a ‘return’ to Labour then Labour had better make it worthwhile.

    As regards present difficulties with the leadership in Westminster, I’m not against EM in as much as he seems to mean what he says and he is trying. His problem is that he has great difficulty in addressing the south of England and Scotland at the same time. Perhaps if he always talked as if he were addressing his Doncaster constituents he might get away with it and communicate with everyone (after all, Doncaster is not too far south) …. or on the other hand he might completely fall between the two stools!

  48. Alec

    “Ed, by contrast, avoided the elephant trap of the ‘referendum now’ brigade and appears sensible, moderate and safe.”

    By clearly stating his pro EU views yet again I think he has made an error which will affect him in two ways both involving people who are currently saying they will vote UKIP. Ex Labour voters who now say UKIP are more likely to remain UKIP, ex Tory voters may well be drawn back to the fold by knowledge that the only way they will get a referendum is by voting Tory.

  49. @Crossbat11

    Sorry – I shall refer to her as NS in future.

  50. Oh, well, of course no one here can say for sure that there isn’t a brewing revolt in the labour party just ready to oust Ed M at the drop of a hat. We don’t know that with 100% confidence.

    Other potential future headlines we just can’t be sure about – “How many Labour MPs secretly want to set fire to Ed M’s shoes?” “Sources report that no one can prove Ed M is not an alien-lizard.” “Some people say Ed M actual literal antichrist, we recount the claims.”

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