A quick update for the ICM/Guardian poll on Monday, which is presumably the final ICM poll of the year. Topline figures are CON 41%(-3), LAB 27%(nc), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 14%(+2), GRN 3%(-1). Nothing startling to report here – the Tories still have a commanding lead, the Lib Dems are up very slightly following their by-election win (but nothing to write home about) and rumours of UKIP’s demise continue to be false.

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171 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 41, LAB 27, LDEM 9, UKIP 14”

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  1. Seems to me that if the Government want to successfully negotiate Brexit they need to explain their plan clearly, with as little secrecy as possible. If they seek to keep as much private as possible, it may just seem that they are not being positive and are hiding from public scrutiny.

    http://news.sky.com/story/secrecy-is-damaging-pm-theresa-mays-brexit-preparations-say-whitehall-experts-10695236

    At some point, Theresa May will realise that it is not possible to hold a secret negotiation with the EU, because of the number of interested parties.

    In regard to Syria and the region, can people remember the talk of the Arab Spring popular uprising of the people wanting western style democracy etc. This lasted about two minutes, before interested parties who did not want to see western style democracies in the region, decided to finance and arm various factions. This is part of the reason for the conflict. A clash between those who want a more modern democratic open civilised way of living and those who seek to impose a strict version of Islam, with traditional Islamic ways of organising how they live.

  2. Glad to see some people here have some critical thinking ability and have completely drunk the Kool-aid on Syria.

  3. (Havent drunk the kool-aid i mean, apols for all the typos my ipad seems to be on its way out)

  4. I wonder what the poor wretches in Aleppo would make of the oh so intellectual cant

    I saw a young Syrian vloging from a heap of rubble in Aleppo with a simple message-“I don’t believe in the International Community any more. I don’t believe in the UN any more”

  5. What about the 1.5 million Aleppo residents, including hundreds of thousands of children, who are now free of daily shelling and war? Aleppo was a government supporting city, overrun by jihadis from elsewhere in syria and other countries.

  6. Succour for militant islamists is coming from some strange places these days (eg Colin)

  7. @Tancred
    Why do people vote Tory?
    If I’m right, and people vote against what they don’t want, rather than for what they do want, then perhaps the Tories are all that’s left. (No pun intended, but there you go.)

  8. @Dave

    I have a view of many people as “Retail Voters”. No particular political ideology. Fairly cynical about politicians in general. They just know they need a government, and turn up at the electoral shops to see what’s available.

    The Tories have generally tried to position themselves as a sort of Marks and Spencer party. Noone’s favourite brand, but respected, workmanlike and capable of doing the job. If you look around the shops and don’t see anything you really fancy, you can always vote Tory.

  9. I think painting those favouring intervention as being soft on ISIS is as unhelpful as painting those opposing major intervention in Syria as friends of Assad.

    The west intervene big style in Afghanistan and Iraq, it goes wrong; we partially intervene in Libya and Syria it goes wrong we don’t intervene in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Central Africa and dreadful things occur.

    Isolationism is an abrogation of moral duty but significant interventions can be counter-productive in the medium term sometimes.

  10. @ Neil A

    Labour need to find a ‘John Lewis’ leader that is never knowingly under sold and meets with aspirations of people for a better life.

    Not sure what shop Jeremy Corbyn would represent, if a party leader represented a retailer brand. Some might suggest a traditional old fashioned high street family owned store, that is still selling clothes from the early 1980’s. It complains about the big stores up the road taking their customers, particulary Marks and Spencers who are at least offering fashion that is more recent.

    For political parties, it might actually be a useful excercise to examine this ‘retail voters’ outlook and try to see where they fit in the current world. You can’t win an election, unless people are buying what you are offering.

  11. I guess LD retails voters in 2010 got a BOGOF deal?

  12. Serious point is that many of us within the Labour Party feel that concentrating on the retail offer in 2015 (and 2010 to a degree) cost us. We did not articulate sufficiently values that differentiate us (in our opinion) from the Conservatives and as other suggest the Tories have had the better superficial retail offer in recent times (least flawed probably more accurate).
    I think this partly explains why the Corbyn band-wagon grew so quickly in the first leadership Election with not just ‘lefties’ supporting him.

  13. Joe

    You see the symptoms of what is happening the Middle East, but not the cause.

    Yes it’s the Saudi’s and yes it is a desire to spread Wahabism, but why should Western leaders be interested in assisting them in that cause?

    The simple answer is money. Millions given to leaders like Hilary Clinton & Tony Blair, after they leave office, and for work of dubious value done for them. Odd how donations to the Clinton foundations have dried up so suddenly after she lost the election isn’t it?

    All the wars we have been involved with since the first Iraq war have in in the interests of the Sunni Muslim oil rich Cabal including Syria, but it wasn’t the spread of Wahabism this time.

    Russia supplies a great percentage of Europes natural gas via a pipeline through Eastern Europe. Qatar wanted that market and proposed a gas pipeline through Syria. Assad refused permission preferring the Iranian proposal.

    Naturally Russia is not happy about their sales of gas being compromised either, hence their great interest.

    Saudi injected ‘black ISIS’ Saudi are known as ‘white ISIS’ (cleaner richer and better smelling, but otherwise no different), to destabilise the regime, and when that didn’t work they called on their puppet leaders to finish the job for them.

    And that is basically the state of things as they stand today. thankfully the West has been unable to destroy Assad without a conflict with Russia, which although Saudi might appreciate is a step too far even for our corrupt leaders.

    Note Boris Johnson letting the cat partly out of the bag last week, there was no denial of what he said, just that it wasn’t British foreign policy to do anything about it.

    Now why might that be I wonder?

  14. There is mixed news on employment in the latest OBS figures.

    “Between May to July 2016 and August to October 2016, the number of people in work was little changed, the number of unemployed people decreased, and the number of people not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) increased.

    There were 31.76 million people in work, little changed compared with May to July 2016 but 342,000 more than for a year earlier.
    There were 23.20 million people working full-time, 235,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.56 million people working part-time, 107,000 more than for a year earlier.

    The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.4%, slightly down from the joint record high of 74.5% recorded for May to July 2016 but higher than for a year earlier (73.9%).

    There were 1.62 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 16,000 fewer than for May to July 2016 and 103,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

    There were 888,000 unemployed men, 13,000 fewer than for May to July 2016 and 53,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
    There were 728,000 unemployed women, little changed compared with May to July 2016 but 49,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

    The unemployment rate was 4.8%, down from 5.2% for a year earlier. It has not been lower since July to September 2005. The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force (those in work plus those unemployed) that were unemployed.

    There were 8.91 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 76,000 more than for May to July 2016 but 56,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

    The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.7%, higher than for May to July 2016 (21.5%) but lower than for a year earlier (21.9%).
    Average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.5% including bonuses and by 2.6% excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.”

    Job creation seems to be slowing possible due to Brexit uncertainty.

  15. Slightly confusing set of employment stats this morning. The unemployment rate remains at 4.8%, while the numbers in employment has fallen slightly. There has been a continued rise in unemployment claimants, while there has also been quite a sharp rise in the economically inactive group.

    Wages have risen by 2.3%, while hours worked have dropped, which suggests a rise in productivity.

    Overall, the consensus is that the labour market is slowly weakening, which is as expected following the Brexit vote.
    A slight worry is that the softening is happening before the real inflationary impacts work through.

  16. And back to polling again !

    A new science appears to be emerging which is measuring the amount of chatter on social media to give an indication not just of voting intentions, but also attitudes and reasons for voting.

    Is this another sting to the bow of the pollsters, and does it signal the death knell for traditional polling?

    Will those companies who fail to move with the times end up out of business?

    Claims are made as one would expect for greater accuracy than traditional polling, but then “they would say that wouldn’t they” . As for the proof of those claims, it’s too early to tell yet.

  17. IIRC the vote on intervention in Syria which the Coalition government lost was restricted to dealing with the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and was lost not just because Labour voted against the Government but because 30 or so Tory MPs voted against a well. The Government also voted down a Labour motion calling for further verification of the use of chemical weapons before action was taken.

  18. I think we had some discussion of the wisdom of the blogosphere Facebook type of stuff during the last ge.

    I can’t recall if it was illuminating . it seems to me that it may tell us something but much mining of the data would be needed and I doubt the results would be trusted.

  19. Hireton – as I say, the decision was made in the US – they realised that a Libya type intervention was politically impossible when Russia made clear they would do everything in their power to stop it. The western powers thought that their jihadist proxies would do the job in any case, misreading the extent that Russia would be determined to stop that happening

  20. http://news.sky.com/story/european-commission-to-be-appointed-chief-brexit-negotiator-with-uk-10695655

    EU commission to be Brexit negotiator to stop UK trying to do deals with individual countries, as part of a strategy.

    Always smiled at suggestions that the UK government could somehow outsmart their EU counterparts because of superior tactics. The EU is far more experienced at complex international negotiations, than the UK. The EU employs huge numbers of negotiators and the UK is having to recruit negotiators.

  21. @Joe

    Spot on. The Americans could have intervened without the UK, they don’t need our small island’s permission to do anything.

    They didn’t intervene because it wasn’t clear exactly who the players were. People who were supposedly anti-Assad forces morphed into ISIS once they got hold of American weapons and money. In that situation, Obama made the right call.

    As for the Middle East in general – the only way to stop what is going on is to cut the consumption of oil. Armies march on their stomachs, and the Saudis are using Colombian mercenaries in Yemen for example.

    The world had zero problem with the middle east before the 1970’s – it is only since the oil money started to flow that problems started to mushroom (including the majority sufi muslims being beseiged by the salafis).

    I’m in favour of the govt putting R&D money into electric cars in conj with Jaguar for example. That would kill several birds with one stone. And we need a strategy to convert carparks etc into charging stations – this is something councils can easily do for parking they control, and charge for the charging, so a new revenue raiser. And perhaps councils requiring all taxis to be electric/hybrid before they get a licence (that would help with air quality too, and save the taxi driver a bundle on fuel). There are a lot of things that we can do that don’t involve military intervention at all, but achieve the same result.

  22. @R Huckle

    If the EU was that smart, they wouldn’t be in the situation they are now, where one member has voted to leave, Greece and Italy are in shambles, unemployment is sky high on the continent, and their people are fleeing to the UK as though they are escaping Aleppo. I’m actiually amazed our unemployment is holding on to it’s lows given the record numbers that have flooded into the UK this year.

    What ever “deals” these negotiators are experienced at delivering, they aint helping the Europeans, so perhaps they are deals not worth having?

  23. R HUCKLE

    And that in a nutshell sums up why the high court was wrong to allow the UK parliament to have any oversight of the UKs negotiating position.

    It’s simply beyond the experience of all of them, and the intellect of most!

    They might as well have a debate on whether a Jim Al Khalili has interpreted particle physics correctly, or if the diagnosis made by a heart surgeon is correct, or if Damien Hirsts latest artwork conveys the message intended.

    The point is that none of them know enough to stick their oars in and they do so simply from a position of ignorant prejudice. You know that certain sections will vote no regardless, just as certain sections will vote yes.

    And then they wonder why the public hold them in such little regard.

  24. “The world had zero problem with the middle east before the 1970’s –….”

    That’s quite a novel take on 1300 years of conflict.

  25. Thoughtful

    I’ll treat it with a huge amount of skepticism.

    The idea that the use of social media is so static what you learn from one year’s worth of data can be applied to next year’s data is highly dubious.

    First you’d need some way of filtering out the bots (whether literal or just brain dead retweeting) which dominate social meeja. Once people learn that bots can move the polls you can expect a wave of sophistated bots being unleashed.

    Theres also a huge amount of irrelevant data, the chances of picking up coincidental relationships in such a noisy environment is huge. Who knows what party a picture of a cat with a melon crash helmet will represent. (and the sheer amount of data means hand crafting the features is going to be a highly challenging task.)

    There is information for sure but I suspect it is more suitable to short term rather than long term trends. The relations might hold across an election campaign, but are unlikely to hold from one election to the next.

  26. Thoughtful

    And you think the government is more qualified than parliament because?

    I wouldn’t trust TM do do any of the things you just highlighted, so clearly she is incapable of doing anything related to Brexit.

  27. @ CANDY

    You made me smile with that response. Parts of the EU are doing pretty well. Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, UK etc. Greece and Italy are in a mess because of issues that are mostly self inflicted and nothing to do with the EU.

    Many parts of the US have the same issues as some EU countries, but last time i looked Detroit etc, were not part of the EU. If you thought about the issues, rather than nationalistically narrow ones, you might realise what is going on. If countries or regions in countries don’t move with the new world we are in, by updating work methods, invest in new technology etc, then they will decline.

    You can argue about Euro currency issues and bad political decisions, but that is not really the main factor. I can point to parts of Spain, where there are huge factories with the latest technology, producing huge volumes of produce for EU markets including the UK. But the technology fitted in many of these factories is manufactured in Germany and part of the deal is that German Engineers do the maintenance. This is nothing to do with the EU. They are private companies investing in latest technology and they don’t need to employ huge amounts of people. Spains problem is the same as it was before the Euro. It is a relatively poor country and they don’t have the amount of cash flowing around their system to support a retail sector like the UK. They rely on things like tourism as a major income and employment source. After the worldwide financial crash less tourists visited and less holiday homes were sold, causing problems which they are still recovering from.

    I would not be too complacent about the UK economy. If there is another financial crash, then the UK will be in a mess. About £1000 billion in debt can be linked to the last crash and Banks have not really recovered. I am no fan of the EU, but i would not blame it for every problem we see in the world.

  28. Alan

    “And you think the government is more qualified than parliament because?”

    Because they’ve spent a fortune of our money on ‘experts’ to write a strategy , and carry out nego

  29. Thoughtful

    Not exactly the most convincing of arguments considering the use of ‘experts’.

    I suppose it’s up to the government to assure us that the are spending our fortune wisely without further scrutiny?

    Just because someone has the authority to write cheques doesn’t actually make them competent.

  30. Sorry about the half f

  31. inished post, but the site is so laggy now it’s almost impossible to type a complete blog.

  32. @R Huckle

    If you compare the EU to NAFTA, which has a similar population, but is a pure trading bloc with no free movement of people, the unemployment is as follows:

    Canada 6.8%
    USA 4.6%
    Mexico 3.7%

    (The immigrants trying to get into the USA arn’t Mexicans, they are central and south Americans, many Guatemalans and Venezuelans are making the trek north).

    In the EU you have Greece with 24% unemployment, Spain with 18% unemployment, France 10%, Italy 11.6%, Portugal 10.5%, Finland 8.1% and so on.

    What is the difference between NAFTA and the EU – the countries in NAFTA have separate currencies and no free movement (all three countries regularly deport illegal migrants). They concentrate purely on trade without the politics.

    The EU model has clearly failed.

  33. @ R Huckle

    I don’t disagree with anything you say. Spain’s problems were in part attributable to an economy very much dependent upon construction. A country half our size in population was building 750,000 new homes per annum. It represented 18% of the economy.

    Ireland was undergoing a similar property speculative boom.

    It was bound to end in tears, and the Lehman crash was really only a trigger for what was inevitable anyway.

    One of the things that surprises me is that governments seem unable to choke off property bubbles, and resort to the sledgehammer of general interest rates ( often too late ).

  34. P.S. The following article about Mexico is super interesting. People’s image about the place is decades out of date:

    https://geopoliticalfutures.com/why-mexico-belongs-in-north-america/

  35. @ CANDY

    Difficult to compare apples with oranges. Different conditions.

    What is the average wage in Mexico, compared to Spain ?

    How many jobs in Canada and Mexico relate to the US market ?

    When you have the biggest economy in the world on your doorstep, it is a bit different than say Italy being next to Germany.

    Pointless having any debate with anyone who already has a fixed position on an issue, because they will always find data that they think supports their argument. I am a natural fence sitter, who will look at things from both sides and make a judgement. Whether you like the EU or not, the UK needs a strong European economy to trade with. We don’t want a basket case economy next door, as that is not going to be good for our own economy. After Brexit, i think the EU will be poorer for not having the UK as a member and it might not be helpful to UK businesses.

  36. Candy

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print_mx.html

    The CIA publishes reports on most of the world countries giving a pretty neutral fact based assessment of their strengths & weaknesses in several areas.

    It seems Mexico has a similar problem with its Southern neighbours as the US has with Mexico which I wasn’t aware of.

    However, as expected drugs are a major problem in Mexico

    “major drug-producing and transit nation; world’s second largest opium poppy cultivator; opium poppy cultivation in 2009 rose 31% over 2008 to 19,500 hectares yielding a potential production of 50 metric tons of pure heroin, or 125 metric tons of “black tar” heroin, the dominant form of Mexican heroin in the western United States; marijuana cultivation increased 45% to 17,500 hectares in 2009; government conducts the largest independent illicit-crop eradication program in the world; continues as the primary transshipment country for US-bound cocaine from South America, with an estimated 95% of annual cocaine movements toward the US stopping in Mexico; major drug syndicates control the majority of drug trafficking throughout the country; producer and distributor of ecstasy; significant money-laundering center; major supplier of heroin and largest foreign supplier of marijuana and methamphetamine to the US market (2007)”

    The UK has something similar on a smaller scale which you can access here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/country-policy-and-information-notes

  37. R Huckle – “We don’t want a basket case economy next door, as that is not going to be good for our own economy.”

    They are a basket case already and have spent the last couple of decades ignoring our advice about everything (the euro, schengen, employment law, ease of setting up businesses etc). Our trade with them has been steadily falling as they stubbornly impoverish themselves.

    So the question is, do we continue to shackle ourselves to a rotting corpse and become ill ourselves, or do we break free for health reasons.

  38. ALAN

    I’ll give you a choice then.

    The next time you have something wrong with you, you can either:

    a) visit your GP, an expert in general medicine

    or

    b) go to your local council meeting and ask the local politicos there what they think is wrong with you !

  39. @ CANDY

    As UKPR is a neutral site on politics, perhaps you can make a counter argument, as to why the UK might benefit from continued EU membership.

    What can the UK learn from say French productivity levels, which are much better than the UK ?

  40. @R Huckle

    French productivity levels are a direct consequence to penalties levelled on businesses for hiring, once a small business gets to 50 staff

    If the cost of automating is less than the cost of hiring more than 49 people (and it is, especially with low interest rates),. they automate. See the following for more on this:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/business/international/the-number-that-many-french-businesses-fear.html

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-05-03/why-france-has-so-many-49-employee-companies

    There is a social cost to all this: high unemployment, the banlieus disaffected and drawn to extreme ideologies and on the other side, the rise of Le Pen.

    Instead of going the drastic French route and penalising employment by law, to force them to automate, a better way is to simply stop free movement of labour. Businesses will naturally start automating as wages rise – but because it’s a natural supply-demand thing, and not a forced system, automation will only happen in certain industries where the demand for labour gets out of kilt.

  41. @Candy – (The immigrants trying to get into the USA arn’t Mexicans, they are central and south Americans, many Guatemalans and Venezuelans are making the trek north).

    As ever, when you post facts, I wonder about your sources. I honestly have no idea about the veracity of the above statement, but two things jump out from a 20 second google search.

    From the Migration Policy Institute, apparently Mexican migrants form 28% of the US foreign born population and are by far the biggest group, and supplied 27.6% of all migrants in 2014, but in 2013 was overtaken by China and India as the prime source country. Guatamalan and Venezualan migrants form 2.1% and 0.6% for comparison, so I’m not altogether your assertion really stands up.

  42. Thoughtful

    It’s pretty clear your strawman is lying facedown in a muddy field somewhere, there really is no need to jump up and down on it to prove your ‘point’.

    My point that TM has no more competence than the combined expertise of both houses still remains. Even when adding the expertise of the Chevening Boys, the equation doesn’t change by much (at all?).

  43. @Alec

    People of Mexican descent might form 28% of the US foreign born population – but most emigrated to the US in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

    The immigrants currently trying to get into the USA are from central america and more mexicans are leaving the US than entering. See

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/11/19/mexicans-returning-home-migration-shift-united-states/76013230/

    Surely the concept of changing patterns of emigration over the decades is not too hard for you to wrap your brain around?

    It’s 2016 not 1986, and it makes no sense to pretend that people are dealing with a pattern from three decades ago.

  44. One of the interesting aspects of the debate between @R Huckle and @Candy above is this idea that the EU ‘has failed’ and so we should get out. This theme, or variations around it, underpinned the Brexit idea, in that we could do better by hitching our wagon to the rest of the world. @Candy expresses one version of this, saying that we don’t want to ‘shackle ourselves to a rotting corpse’ etc.

    This is a genuinely quite interesting theme to explore, especially with the concerns over the Euro. It is also, clearly, an oversimplification. No, we probably wouldn’t want to be shackled to Greece, or possibly France, but Germany and Sweden have done pretty well over many decades. Linking with them might not be such a bad idea.

    However, for me, the central error in this is the notion that we can shackle and unshackled from trading partners at will. We will still be next door to France, come what may. We will still need trade and exchange with the EU, whether we are in or out. We will still suffer from a plague of flies if the EU corpse continues to rot. The only real difference will be that outside, we won’t have any chance to help them choose a better path, if indeed that is the problem.

  45. Interesting to see discussion of Spain’s unemployment etc vs the UK, as it’s a country I spend a lot of time in.

    Concentrating on unemployment rates as an indicator of economic health can be misleading. Others that could be considered include balance of payments (Spain: €1.5bn surplus; UK €24.3bn deficit) or GDP growth (Spain: +3.2%, UK +2.3%).

    More generally, the impression in Spain is of a far higher level of investment in public goods: roads, railways, airports, schools, hospitals etc. are newer and far more able to deal with demand. And there seems to be much more spent at local authority level on things like street cleaning, rubbish collection, improving and maintaining local amenities etc. And, of course, there is absolutely no shortage of housing!

    So it feels to me like a country in better shape than the UK, and one that feels happier with itself. The official level of employment is way too high, but there is a lot of off-the-books employment which mitigates the problem.

  46. @Candy – thankyou. Yes, I am able to wrap my brain around quite a few things, thanks very much. That’s why I explained to you that the top three source countries for migration into the USA in 2013 were China, India, and then Mexico. In fact, by 2015, immigration from Asia equaled migration from all countries in North, Central and South America, excluding Mexico.

    Again, it looks like you slightly overegged your claims, and when someone pulls you up on a simple factual banana skin you get a little rude.

    It’s far better just to accept you’ve made a mistake, and auto correct, as this avoids the need for you to disappear for a few days after yet another fact based trouncing on UKPR.

    We all get along far better, and learn far more, if we can remain a touch more open minded.

  47. @Alec

    I used the present tense in my statement – “the immigrants who are trying to enter the USA” -i.e. 2016 but you jumped to conclusions based on out of date ideas – despite me pointing out that people’s ideas about Mexico are out of date. Net immigration to the USA from Mexico is negative.

    That is not an “open-minded” attitude on your part! You jumped to conclusions based on stereotypes decades out of date. Why do people do that? Why do they refuse to acknowledge that the passage of time changes things? That what might have been the case in 1973 regarding Europe, is not true now. And what might have been the case about Mexico in the 1980’s is no longer true either?

    P.S. Trump won his election partly down to stereotypes he and his voters share with you!

  48. Alec
    “We will still suffer from a plague of flies if the EU corpse continues to rot. The only real difference will be that outside, we won’t have any chance to help them choose a better path,…”

    Surely the point is that we will be able to choose a better path for ourselves?

  49. @SOMERJOHN

    Let’s also bear in mind that Britain has VERY liberal employment laws – zero hours contracts and so forth. Many people in jobs have what many would call ‘McJobs’, not stable, permanent and well paid positions. This helps to keep unemployment down, but does little to improve the national standard of living.

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