There are three new EU referendum polls today, a telephone poll from ORB and parallel phone and online polls from ICM.

The ORB poll for the Telegraph has topline figures of REMAIN 51%(-4), LEAVE 46%(+4), Don’t know 3%(nc) – full tables are here. The Telegraph wrote it up as immigration producing a significant swing towards Leave. I would normally have been ready to dismiss that as reading far too much into a poll that was probably just reversion to the mean: if you look at ORB’s previous figures their poll last week may have shown a thirteen point lead… but the two before that were almost identical to today’s figures. Newspapers may want to write that up as “big swing to Remain” followed by “big swing to Leave”, but a more parsimonious interpretation is just “slightly wonky sample returns to normal”.

However, today’s other polls from ICM raise more interesting questions.

ICM once again carried out two parallel polls, one conducted online, one conducted by telephone. So far all but one of these experiments have found a big gulf between phone and online polls (typically online polls show a race that’s neck-and-neck, telephone polls show a lead averaging around 8-10 points). ICM’s online poll found the sort of close race we’ve come to expect, with topline figures of REMAIN 44%(-1), LEAVE 47%(+2), Don’t know 9%(-1). ICM’s telephone poll found wholly unexpected results of REMAIN 42%(-5), LEAVE 45%(+6), Don’t know 13%(-1). Full tables for both are here.

There is nothing unusual about how the ICM poll was carried out that might explain the unusual result, it was done the same way as their previous telephone polls that showed Remain leads of seven or eight points. This leaves us with two obvious possibilities:

Either there has been a genuine movement towards Leave in recent days and the movement in the ICM poll reflects that (suggesting also that the ORB poll is showing more than just reversion to the mean), or…

ICM just got a really wacky sample by polling over the bank holiday weekend, and future telephone polls will revert to the normal pattern of solid remain leads.

Right now we can’t really tell. I will only urge my normal caveats about not reading too much into an individual poll, especially one conducted over a bank holiday weekend (whether or not that makes an actual difference or is “pollster folklore” is unclear. It’s certainly possible to point to clear examples of weird results from polls with bank holiday fieldwork, but it’s possible to point to weird results from polls conducted at other times and bank holiday results that are perfectly normal. While I’d always try to avoid polling over Easter or Christmas, I suspect in reality the Spring bank holiday doesn’t make that much difference to fieldwork). It will be interesting to see if forthcoming polls show a wider trend towards Leave, and if forthcoming telephone polls give any further suggestion that the online-phone gap may be disappearing.


156 Responses to “ICM phone poll shows Leave ahead”

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  1. Oh wise counsel as ever – I wish the Media were so restrained….

  2. Robert Newark
    ‘I am puzzled as to what people think they achieve by spoiling their ballot paper.’

    I attended the count for the 1994 European election. The candidates were invited to inspect spoiled papers and those where the voter’s intention wasn’t entirely clear (I think that if all the candidates could agree these were allocated to the relevant candidate). The Conservative candidate was almost literally hopping mad at the number of papers that had been spoiled by people writing ‘Referendum party’ or ‘UK Independence’ or something similar. She thought they were rightly her votes (she was nowhere near winning, it was a very safe Labour seat).

    So to answer your question: it’s an opportunity to let the candidates know why you couldn’t bring yourself to vote for any of them, or indicate who/what you would have liked to be able to vote for. I’m inclined to think that they do take heed if any pattern emerges.

  3. @Alun

    That’s ok, I replied on the other thread myself. Also, David posted too…

  4. Reasons as to why one doesn’t vote have been given in the past. Obviously a certain cynicism about politics, in particular how manifestos get routinely trashed on spurious grounds, and how voting can lead to the opposite of what you might intend, as evidenced by numerous wounded LibDems. (Or former LibDems…)

    …But also, more personally, a desire not to colour my thinking by investing in summat. And also being able to avoid charges of being partisan, or at least, being credibly less partisan than some. But I wouldn’t advocate it for all, it just happens to suit me (partly because having foreign parents…)

    And also, one sees way too much muddled thinking in parties; even if you agree in principle with summat, the execution is frequently way short of the mark.

  5. Meanwhile, in deepest Kent …

    Tories fail to block extension of time for police to investigate South Thanet electoral spending.

    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/police-given-more-time-to-96705/

    If Tories anticipate that, at the end of the day, cases will go against them. they might be better to defenestrate Cameron after the EUref and go for another GE, on the basis that a new PM needs a new mandate.

    With Labour agreement, that would be easy to arrange and a new election would reduce the election expense cases to mere academic interest, and avoid significant embarrassment to the major GB parties.

  6. If I were to spoil my ballot with a missive, it would have to be rather a long missive…

    “…And another thing!!…”

  7. “rather a long missive”

    I would encourage you to consider those behind you in the queue to vote. If it’s quiet, I see no harm. But if you have voters eager to voterise behind you, best make it brief I think.

    Of course, you could instead go postal…

  8. Oldnat
    Thanks for link re Kent.

    Evidence seems to be increasing that the GE 2015 was ‘bought’ by the Tory party.

    I’ve also seen plausible claims of push polling by the Cons for GE 2015.

    It is truly ironic that had the Cons not been so successful in various closely contested seats that they might have entered coalition again with the LDs and therefore we would not have the EU referendum.

  9. Mike N

    Some of the stuff I’ve seen quoted on Twitter probably doesn’t breach the RPA.

    Whether the Tory claims that they properly allocated spending to the national, rather than local, campaign would hold up in front of an Election Court remains to be seen (or not, if no such Courts are actually convened).

    However, recent Election Court decisions have changed the way in which aspects of the RPA are interpreted – and not in ways that some parties appreciate! – so it may be judged that the limits have been pushed too far.

    I wonder whether bringing in “election specialists” from outwith the UK (who may not have understood the legislation properly) may turn out to have been a rather catastrophic error.

  10. @Alec

    Ah right so only the reference to “ever closer union” which really is not the same as “complete unification” nor is “integration”‘. Of course that may b the preference of some but it is ot inherent in the treaties. And of course even if compete unification was in the treaties you seem to regard those as malleable in relation to Turkey accession so presumably they would be in this respect.

  11. I thought the UK had an exemption from “ever closer union” anyway?

  12. Well, there’s more of the Union thing, which is a bit abstract, and then there’s… Dominance over us, which is the sorta thing that might worry more in practice.

    As Italy and Greece might attest. Then there is the stuff where… We have to secure opt-outs. As with the financial levy thing. It’s good that we were able to do so, but will it come into question again in future? And what did we have to cede to get the opt out?

    I mean, not long ago, we didn’t have to worry about such a levy. Was anything about a Levy in the Treaties? Then suddenly, there is this levy…

  13. The next cloud on the horizon being… TTIP. That’s even less democratic than usual because conducted in secret!!..

    Does TTIP and the manner of its execution not worry any of the Remainers?

    I mean, they might worry about how a revising chamber is unelected, and fair enough, but all this stuff that gets imposed in the EU worries them not a jot…

  14. @Mike N, Crossbat

    It may be just a Twitter twotter but the thought of Boris (whose motives for flipping to be a passionate outer are pretty transparent) calling a snap election and winning a landslide should send a chill through the bones of anyone who wishes ill on the Tories.
    Any left leaning Londoner has seen the power of Boris’ celebrity and how it outweighs all rational considerations and it’s brave indeed to imagine he cannot transfer this nonsense onto a national stage.
    Does my bum look fatuous in this?

  15. @Oldnat

    “If Tories anticipate that, at the end of the day, cases will go against them. they might be better to defenestrate Cameron after the EUref and go for another GE, on the basis that a new PM needs a new mandate.”

    I think the defenestration of DC is almost inevitable however the EU cookie crumbles.

  16. @Guymonde

    “It may be just a Twitter twotter but the thought of Boris (whose motives for flipping to be a passionate outer are pretty transparent) calling a snap election and winning a landslide should send a chill through the bones of anyone who wishes ill on the Tories.
    Any left leaning Londoner has seen the power of Boris’ celebrity and how it outweighs all rational considerations and it’s brave indeed to imagine he cannot transfer this nonsense onto a national stage.
    Does my bum look fatuous in this?”

    Nah. Boris could never successfully cut the mustard on the national stage. He’s even more malleable than DC. I think the next Tory leader will be a signpost.

  17. RAF

    I agree that the defenestration of Cameron seems inevitable.

    My point was that, if the Tories think they will lose Election Court cases, such a change in PM provides a perfect excuse for a GE, which renders such cases unlikely or irrelevant.

  18. RAF

    “I think the next Tory leader will be a signpost.”

    What a delightful idea! Presumably, one of the old-style wooden ones?

  19. CROSSBAT11

    Middlesex won by an innings today. :-)

  20. Crossbat 11

    Lovely ground at Worcester. I remember seeing Middlesex win the championship there many years ago. Brearley Captain and Emburey took the last wicket. Dates me of course.

  21. @Oldnat

    “My point was that, if the Tories think they will lose Election Court cases, such a change in PM provides a perfect excuse for a GE, which renders such cases unlikely or irrelevant.”

    Yes, a happy coincidence.

  22. @Hireton – “Ah right so only the reference to “ever closer union” which really is not the same as “complete unification” nor is “integration”‘. Of course that may b the preference of some but it is ot inherent in the treaties. And of course even if compete unification was in the treaties you seem to regard those as malleable in relation to Turkey accession so presumably they would be in this respect.”

    Well yes, everything is malleable within the EU, which is precisely the point. If Turkey ever does join, it will be subject to ‘ever closer union’.

    We can then enter a lengthy and pointless debate on the semantics of ‘ever closer union’ and how similar or disimilar this is to ‘complete unification’, but there would honestly be little point in that. There is a point, however, in highlighting that where the ECJ is asked to give judgements which serve as legal precedent throughout the EU, they are quoting ‘ever closer union’ either specifically or implicitly in their judgements. It is therefore an important part of the future development of the EU and we can only guess as to where that will enventually lead.

    I also didn’t go beyond that, as there are many other treaty statements that indicate a desire for a unified Europe. The treaties include a commitment to have a single citizenship (“RESOLVED to establish a citizenship common to nationals of their countries”) and a common foreign and defence policy (“RESOLVED to implement a common foreign and security policy including the
    progressive framing of a common defence policy..”) and also a single economic and monetary system (“RESOLVED to achieve the strengthening and the convergence of their economies and to establish an economic and monetary union including, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a single and stable currency”).

    The EU is in theory already a military alliance, with members committed to the defence of all the other nations, and according to Article 42, member states have an obligation to provide personel and equipment to the union in pursuit of it’s defence policies if the council requests.

    The treaties commit members to a single economic union (not the same as the monetary union), without defining what that means.

    Member staes have no rights in the area of setting competition rules, which is an extremely broad and ill defined area.

    Members are also obligated to coordinate economic, employment and social policies – not yet really enforced, but all in the treaties.

    There really is a good deal of centralising stuff in there – I was actually quite surprised – and the desire of the commission to integrate further and faster is still there, with the underlying dream still one where there is a Europe without independent nation states.

  23. Suggest those who are interested in the Electoral fraud scandal have a look at this:
    http://www.thecanary.co/2016/05/31/whistleblower

  24. @TOH

    “Middlesex won by an innings today. :-)”

    And Worcester lost by 5 wickets in the end! My confident prediction of a win for the Three Pears county was hopelessly amiss and I hadn’t bargained for the Gloucester Number 7 getting a 71 ball century!

    In my youth, I once saw Peter Parfitt and a very young Clive Radley batting for Middlesex at one of Worcestershire’s occasional out-grounds in Kidderminster. Mid sixties, I think it was, in that great Worcester era of Flavell, Coldwell, Gifford, Graveney, Horton, Booth and Kenyon. We won the County Championship twice in that little purple patch for the Championship’s smallest county.

  25. @ Carfew

    ‘The next cloud on the horizon being… TTIP. That’s even less democratic than usual because conducted in secret!!..’

    Actually, the next one is CETA… already signed but not yet fully ratified. And the one even less democratic than TTIP but coming up the rear, is TiSA.

  26. DAVID:
    “Suggest those who are interested in the Electoral fraud scandal have a look at this:
    http://www.thecanary.co/2016/05/31/whistleblower

    Thank you for the link. This continues to look worse for the Tories. I still can’t tell whether this is building to a wave of by-elections or if it’s going to fizzle out. But even trying not to let wishful thinking impinge on my thinking, I can’t help the feeling the Tories are in deep trouble over this.

    I wish there were a way to bar political parties from putting forward candidates where wrongdoing like the stuff that’s alleged here is proven. My understanding is that only the individual candidates are barred. That doesn’t quite seem just, if there has indeed been party-wide impropriety.

  27. @Syzygy, Carfew

    It may well be a demonstration of European Democracy, as there have been loud noises from MEPs on refusing to ratify these treaties due to the handling of negotiations. TTIP looks like it’s already dead in the water from the outset as the staked out negotiating positions are so far apart as to be irreconcilable.

  28. The Electoral fraud scandal has the potential to feed directly into the Referendum. Oldnat was bang on target earlier when he suggested that ‘with Labour agreement’ maybe the best way forward was to clear the decks for an early GE. I don’t think there would be much objection from the Lib-dems, either!

  29. I posted earlier about polling figures from non-political sites, and it was suggested that these are not ‘representative samples’.

    Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert site, aimed at savvy consumers, has a new poll started on 31 May, with the following figures;

    Those who say they are 100% certain to vote (over 17,000 responses) – Remain 36%, Leave 64%.

    Those who are fairly sure, but not completely decided (over 3,500 responses) – Remain 47%, Leave 53%.

    Make of that what you will.

  30. Carfrew: “The next cloud on the horizon being… TTIP. That’s even less democratic than usual because conducted in secret!!..
    Does TTIP and the manner of its execution not worry any of the Remainers?
    I mean, they might worry about how a revising chamber is unelected, and fair enough, but all this stuff that gets imposed in the EU worries them not a jot”

    If Brexit happens and we have to negotiate about 50 trade treaties asap, do you believe HMG will be providing minutes of the negotiations on a daily basis? Even if we favour transparency, our prospective trade partner will insist on confidential negotiations.

    As for “this stuff that gets imposed in the EU,” our government is fully informed and involved, and indeed one of the prime movers for TTiP. If the UK was implacably opposed to TTIP, it could never happen.

    Ironically, without UK support, a post-Brexit EU is unlikely to go for TTIP. “Independent’ Britain, on the other hand, led by pro-TTIP Boris, eager for new trade partnerships and fully signed up to the neo-liberal agenda, would surely step eagerly into the EU’s shoes and, after a brief period of closed-door negotiations with the USA, emerge with a piece of paper. Maybe entitled SRTIP (could be Special Relationship Trade and Industry Partnership, but more realistically Subservient Relationship TIP).

  31. According to these links, it’s not just the Tories who have some questions to answer over election expenses at the last GE. The whole system seems rotten.

    http://order-order.com/2016/05/31/labour-activist-outs-cat-smiths-campaign-manager/

    http://order-order.com/2016/06/01/revealed-how-nick-clegg-cooked-the-books-for-17652/

  32. Pete B

    “According to these links, it’s not just the Tories who have some questions to answer over election expenses at the last GE. The whole system seems rotten.”

    Which is precisely why I suggested that Labour would happily co-operate with the Tories to bury the investigations.

    Still, these are the people you want to have sovereignty – well them, Brenda and the cronies in the Lords.

    “Parliamentary sovereignty” seems a uniquely stupid concept. :-)

  33. ON
    It’s not going to get any better by staying in the EU. There’s just another few layers of corruption – e.g. accounts not signed off for god knows how many years. If any company did that the directors would be in prison, at least in the UK. Maybe not Greece etc

  34. @ PETE B

    “e.g. accounts not signed off for god knows how many years. ”

    According to the BBC, this is a myth.

    “The Court of Auditors has signed the EU accounts every year since 2007, while pointing out that EU countries, once they receive the EU funds, misuse about 4.4% of the total budget.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35603388

  35. @David Carrod

    If those polls make no attempt to weight the results to make them representative of the whole nation, 17,000 votes can still be miles out.

    I offer the example of telephone polls in papers like the Daily Express. The often get huge numbers calling, often claiming extraordinary results.

    They have been (in most examples I can recall) wildly inaccurate from reality.

  36. Pete B

    However, the EU accounts [1] have sod all to do with the fact that Parliamentary sovereignty is a really stupid concept.

    [1] If you adopt lower standards of auditing, then even the Tory and Labour party (and the UK Govt) accounting returns can be made to look good. That the UK standards are so low that company directors and party officials aren’t jailed is a condemnation – not a matter for self-congratulation!

  37. @Somerjohn

    On your first point, well, it seems to depend on the method. I mean, actually joining the trade zone of the EEC as was, was relatively transparent, we even had a referendum on it.

    As to the point about our government being fully involved. Already dealt with that, several times. It’s part of the problem. Governments have a habit of imposing stuff we didn’t want. But… Ordinarily we might kick them out and get that changed.

    But if they impose it via the EU, kicking them out may make little difference. The EU continues imposing what our government agreed to. It’s a way of government imposing things we can’t easily reverse.

    As to your final point, all one can say is, well quite!! As Andrew indicated and I have already agreed, it may be that outside the EU, stuff like TTIP may get imposed anyway. Or worse. This may be why the likes of Mason only want Brexit to take place under their favoured government.

    All we can say is that at present it’s on the table, whereas outiside the EU it’s just speculation. But that is a key condundrum I mentioned earlier: the question of how much gets foisted on us in the EU versus outside (because although we have more freedom, we have less clout. But we might have more clout than some of the other countries mentioned as a yardstick, e.g. Norway…)

    But I should just mention, that it wound up being quite good that we resisted joining the Euro…

  38. @ Jamese Many thanks!

  39. DAVID CARROD:
    “Make of that what you will.”

    It doesn’t take much knowledge of polling to know that the correct thing to “make” of that is a big fat nothing.

    It seems obvious from what you’re saying that the respondants are self-selecting. We have no information on controlling for demographics. What were the questions, were there prompts, when was the fieldwork carried out, were there quotas, was the survey after an opinion piece that could skew responses? Sorry, but there’s really no point in wasting your time on this kind of polling.

    Catmanjeff is spot on with drawing a parallel with silly Express polls. An Express phone poll wouldn’t even be a reliable indicator of the opinion of Express readers, let alone the general public.

  40. James E

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/11209248/EU-auditors-refuse-to-sign-off-more-than-100billion-of-its-own-spending.html

    You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

    ON
    So you believe that handing sovereignty to a financially corrupt organisation doesn’t matter because in your opinion parliamentary sovereignty doesn’t matter? Good grief.

  41. Just found another example of a UK director going to prison for accounting record failures:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prison-for-company-directors-accounting-records-failures

  42. @Syzygy

    Ah, it seems there is a plague of these trade deals. Although how much they are about trade, as opposed to being anti-competitive stitch-ups by those who’ve accumulated the most capital (whether by luck or cheating or judgement), is summat else, of course.

    @Jayblanc

    Yes, I’ve read that the leaks may have quashed it, but then I read elsewhere that they’ll make little difference. I’m kinda… Lets err on the side of caution, what’s the worst that can happen (and it’ll prolly be worse) etc.

  43. Pete B

    “in your opinion parliamentary sovereignty doesn’t matter? Good grief.”

    Oh it matters! It screws up democracy.

    Your preference is to have sovereignty invested in the “Queen in Parliament”. Mine is that sovereignty lies with “the people”.

    I gather that you couldn’t be bothered to read the link provided by James E – or since it didn’t match your prejudices, you simply rejected it.

    I’m sure that corruption exists everywhere. You appear to fantasise that the UK is a corruption free zone. The financial sector in London would seem to suggest otherwise. :-)

  44. @ Pete B

    There’s another, more detailed BBC article on the “accounts not signed of for 20 years” claim.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36276175

    The Telegraph article you linked does not appear to contradict this.

  45. Was turnout significantly higher in the marginal seats being investigated for campaign fraud? If so, we may well have our explanation for the great poll error of ’15. Political weighting on a regional scale simply not being able to track the results of such strongly focused individual constituency campaigning, and too few samples coming from the seats in question.

  46. ON
    “Your preference is to have sovereignty invested in the “Queen in Parliament”. Mine is that sovereignty lies with “the people”.”

    You’re putting words into my mouth, but ‘the people’ don’t have much sovereignty if they can be outvoted by 27 other ‘the people’.

    I didn’t say that there is no corruption in the UK – quite the opposite. I just don’t see the necessity to load even more corrupt layers of government on top.

    James E
    I read your second link. Some interesting stuff.

    ‘The latest report, published in 2015 for accounts in 2014, explicitly said that the auditors were “signing off the accounts” as they have done every year since 2007.
    The Court did point out that some of the funds – 4.4% of the total in 2014 – were not used in accordance with the EU rules. But it stressed that this “is not a measure of fraud, inefficiency or waste”, but money that: “should not have been paid out because it was not used in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations”.’

    To me, that would come under the category of fraud, inefficiency and waste. Also, why weren’t the accounts ever signed off before 2007?

    Also
    ‘In 2014, the court found that €666m (£524m) from the EU fund that is given to countries to finance projects in underdeveloped areas, was “poor value for money”. Poland, for example, built three airports, in Lodz, Rzeszow and Lublin, which have received more than €100m of EU funding, but which have not attracted enough customers to keep them in business.
    In 2012, a mountain lift was constructed in the Sicilian village of Sutera, to improve access to a mountain monastery to attract tourism. The project reportedly received around €2m of EU regional development money. However, due to high operating costs, the lift has never been in use.
    There are UK-based examples too. In 2008, the Canolfan Cywain rural heritage centre opened in Gwynedd, Wales, after it received £900,000 from the EU structural development fund. It ran into financial difficulties in September 2011 and closed a year later.’

    Seems at least wasteful and inefficient, and possibly fraudulent.

    Also:
    ‘If the auditors do suspect corruption, they pass the cases to OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office. According to the latest figures provided by the Commission, fraud affects 0.2% of the EU’s annual spending. The estimated cost of fraudulent irregularities was €248m in 2013.
    For comparison, the UK National Audit Office says fraud across UK government was equivalent to only 0.02% of total expenditure: it ranged from £27.5m to £72.9m, depending on the source, from a total expenditure of £306bn.’

    This suggests that the EU is more corrupt than the UK. Perhaps you and Oldnat should read the link before posting it. Oh, and of course the headline is misleading because the BBC receives EU funding, and is therefore biased.

    I’m off to bed now. I will look forward to rebutting any further nonsense some time tomorrow.

  47. @ JayBlanc

    ‘Was turnout significantly higher in the marginal seats being investigated for campaign fraud? If so, we may well have our explanation for the great poll error of ’15. Political weighting on a regional scale simply not being able to track the results of such strongly focused individual constituency campaigning, and too few samples coming from the seats in question.’

    Yes! I tried to say that at the time but was ignored (I probably didn’t explain what I meant as cogently as you have).

  48. @ Carfew and JayBlanc

    ‘Ah, it seems there is a plague of these trade deals. Although how much they are about trade, as opposed to being anti-competitive stitch-ups by those who’ve accumulated the most capital (whether by luck or cheating or judgement), is summat else, of course.’

    They’re supposed to be about removing ‘barriers to trade’ aka employment and environmental protection, preventing re-nationalisation etc.

    I have read repeatedly that they look likely to fail e.g. TPP and then two days later, it was signed in Hawaii. I am very sceptical that they will be abandoned []

  49. @Alun009,

    Of course the respondents were ‘self-selecting’, just as the people will be on June 23 when they decide whether or not to go to their local polling station and put an X in the box.

    The question was exactly the same as the one which will be on the ballot paper, with no preliminary commentary or articles.

    The MSE website is massive in internet terms, reaching 15 million users monthly, and the respondents will be a representative cross section of male/female, ABC1/C2DE, highly educated/uneducated, right leaning/left leaning, northern/southern and so on. With a sample size much larger than the average opinion poll, I do not see the need for any weighting.

    Of course the Daily Express poll is not comparable (it shows 91% Leave from over 200,000 responses) because they are, by definition, Express readers.

  50. @David Carrod

    The clue, surely, is in the name of the site. There’s not much doubt that the UK is a net contributor to the EU (the argument is about how much) so if you’re into money saving enough to go to the site and not just go for a price comparison on credit cards or whatever, but go find their EU poll, you’re quite likely to be attracted by a bit of straightforward ‘money saving’

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