The quiet summer rolls on – for once we have a proper silly season with barely any domestic political news. I’m off for the next week, so won’t be updating even if there are any chunky polls to write about. In the meantime Opinium released their regular voting intention poll last night, which continued to show a small Labour lead – CON 40%, LAB 43%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 4%. Full tabs are here.


795 Responses to “Opinium/Observer – CON 40, LAB 43, LDEM 6”

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  1. Just popped in !

  2. Will be interesting to see the UK proposals on the ECJ alternative this week. Davis appears to be softening his line, now talking about only being against the ECJ’s “direct jurisdiction”, which has raised quite a few eyebrows in legal circles.

    This has the appearance of pennies finally dropping in Whitehall, as the truth is that any agreement on trade or anything else between the UK and the EU would, ultimately, always remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ. That is what makes May’s insistence of withdrawing from anything within the ECJ’s orbit (such as Euratom) so daft.

    Any future agreements made will have to include a legally binding arbitration process, so even if we don’t accept the ECJ, we will need to establish another system, which will be just as outside UK law as the ECJ is. We will remain under the jurisdiction of a foreign legal system of some kind.

    As far as the EU is concerned, any agreement has to be consistent with existing EU law, so the new legal body will simply administer ECJ judgements. The interesting question is how future ECJ legal interpretations are handled. The EU will probably not accept an agreement with the UK that could lead to conflicts with ECJ judgements, so in all probability the agreement will ultimately also include acceptance of future ECJ decisions, but delivered through a system with another name.

  3. Thanks AW for the poll.
    Ed was ahead by more I think

  4. There isn’t much to say about this latest poll, except that Labour’s VI of 40%+ is still very consistent.

    Nevertheless it’s a shame that we’re on to the minutiae of opinions about the Brexit process already. G’night all.

  5. @CL1945 – Ed had a lead of 12% in Feb 2013 with ICM (41/29) although I think care is required, as back then UKIP on 9% were distorting the picture.

  6. CHRIS

    I don’t think Ed was ahead so soon after the 2010 election was he?

  7. @Alec

    As far as the EU is concerned, any agreement has to be consistent with existing EU law, so the new legal body will simply administer ECJ judgements. The interesting question is how future ECJ legal interpretations are handled. The EU will probably not accept an agreement with the UK that could lead to conflicts with ECJ judgements, so in all probability the agreement will ultimately also include acceptance of future ECJ decisions, but delivered through a system with another name.

    I suggested sometime ago that a solution could be the UK Supreme Court making decisions based on the same rules as the ECJ runs by.

    The Government can then claim decisions are UK based, and the EU will be happy on the legal framework for the decision being the same same as the ECJ would apply.

  8. CMJ

    Supreme Court simply applying ECJ judgements – but UK pretending that it is operating independently?

    Sounds like the classic fudge that politicians adopt to pretend that reality conforms to their statements of principle.

    So seems a very likely outcome. :-)

  9. Not that one can judge much about Scottish politics from an Opinium Scots crossbreak, but a couple of aspects seem interesting.

    Sturgeon’s approval rating in key areas (-1% in Scotland : -2% among UK Remainers) are much more positive (or less negative!) than for the other leaders sampled.

    For them, the GB (if not UK) numbers matter – it’s part of the reason that I constantly insist that the appropriate terminology for the various polities in the UK are used!

    Presumably (we can only guess with such wee numbers), the SNP -> Con vote shift for a UK GE that probably revolves around Brexit is confirmed by this poll.

    But Sturgeon’s relative popularity suggests that the situation may be very different for a Scottish GE.

    All straws in the wind at the moment. We really need a proper Scottish poll on both Holyrood and Westminster VIs to understand the dynamics here.

  10. Ed Miliband wasn’t even the leader this soon after the 2010 election. Harriet Harman was caretaker leader.

  11. Which person is likely to be most competent in assessing the evidence produced by research?

    Stephen Hawkins?

    Jeremy Hunt?

    Which of them suggests the existence of black holes in NHS England?

  12. COLIN
    Interesting that whether the thread concerns the possibility of a centrist party or VI we continue to post about Brexit. Can it be that the consensus is that the outcome will determine practically every other issue in UK politics?
    On your reference in the last thread to my obsession with SE Asia, I am more interested in the role of research in countering the colonialism of western institutional involvement there than in its soi disant communist regime – which largely support laissez-faire market economies.The aspect which might conceivably relate to the proper subject matter of this site and thread is in the value given to research at the FO in our choice of government, and the effects of its loss in the past decade, relevant to the illiteracy with which we are leaving the EU and denounced by Rory Stewart when Chairman of the HOC Foreign Affairs Committee in a passionate speech to the House on leaving the post a couple of years ago. He is the one Conservative who would have my vote as leader. .

  13. OldNat

    I have a huge amount of respect for Hawking as a physicist, however once he gets out of his specialty he seems to have huge holes in his knowledge and flaws in his reasoning.

    Reading the stuff he says about AI, I am very surprised at the complete lack of understanding he has in an area which is obviously of interest to him.

    He is certainly fallible when it comes to assessing evidence and suffers from the same prejudices and biases as the rest of us. The conclusions he reaches about the threat of AI dominating humanity seems to come more from science fiction than a genuine assessment of the future of AI.

  14. ALAN

    re SH’s views on AI. This is a highly technical matter which I won’t go into the details of here, but suffice it to say that we are safe whilst we use classical computers (at least from independent AI takeover – criminal mastermind takeover given the cavalier attitude most IOT manufacturers have to security is a whole other matter). But they may not be the computers of the future, work is already taking place to replace the with Quantum Computers, which is what SH is, rightly in my view, worried about.

  15. Looking at the polling tables, i see more people would now vote to remain in the EU if another referendum were held. Amonst Men it is 50/50, but Women indicate a clear preference in staying in the EU.

    At the end of this month, i think we will see future UK/EU Brexit talks delayed as the two sides cannot agree on first stage issues. The UK wants to negotiate future trading relationship, without having agreed on the first stage issues that the EU wants concluded. The problem for the UK is that David Davis will be unable to agree on a financial settlement with the EU. Davis will not have been given a blank cheque by May/Hammond, as the settlement issue is likely to cause arguments in the cabinet and on Tory backbenches. Then there is the Irish border problem, where the UK and EU might not agree on specific arrangements.

    My prediction is therefore that we could end up going into 2018 without even the first stage Brexit negotiations being concluded. If that happens Brexorcists are likely to be demanding a no deal Brexit and the question is whether there is enough political or public support for this. Once people start to worry about the finanicial impacts of Brexit they might start to change their minds. This might well lead to a second referendum during 2018.

  16. @ Alan

    Re: Hawking

    “He is certainly fallible when it comes to assessing evidence”

    I don’t want to make judgements about Hawking in particular. I am still in awe of having briefly met him once in a car park! Sadly my kids don’t seem to remember this. But, IMHO, his work is on the border-line of Mathematics and Physics, and ‘assessment of evidence’ is quite different in the two fields.

    Mathematics is founded on absolute proof of theorems, whereas Physics, like all sciences (including polling) is founded on experimental evidence to measure quantities and validate (or not) theories. So, for example, I’d certainly hope that professional statisticians are better as assessing bulk population data than a pure mathematician (in general). On the other hand, statisticians employed by some organisations may very well be biased, and being selective about their assessment. It’s remarkably difficult to be completely unbiased, even in the hardest of sciences. So take your pick. It’s probably all opinion in the end.

  17. @CMJ – I’m much less confident that the EU would be willing to leave the UK legal system to interpret EU law. That would break a fundamental principle of the union, and could still lead to divergence between existing ECJ rulings and new rulings on the UK/EU agreement taken in the Supreme Court. It also means that the EU would have to accept rulings from a body that they have no part in selecting. If Brexiters were offered a new legal oversight body that was run and selected entirely by the EU, they would find this unacceptable, and so will the EU I would suggest.

    I can’t see how May can back down and allow ECJ to oversee the deal – that wuld just be a complete humiliation. The EU know this, but equally will require the ECJ to have ultimate oversight. I strongly suspect that Davis knows this, which is why he is changing his position, and there will almost certainly be a new body, technically subservient to the ECJ, which the UK government can claim does not represent direct control by the ECJ but is in reality exactly the same as now.

    This is one area where I have always felt people like @TOH will be highly disappointed.

  18. The poll has 60% of people in favour of a transitional arrangement. About as definitive as it is on anything. Half wanting a few years, half until satisfactory new terms have been agreed.

    otherwise the most obvious conclusion is the continued split between labour and conservative. Labour are 2:1 remainers, think the economy is doing badly, predict they will be worse off in 10 years after Brexit, want a new referendum (presumably to change the result).

    Conservatives are 2:1 leavers, think the economy is doing quite well, predict they will be better off 10 years after Brexit, do not want a new referendum.

    Hardly anyone think the NHS will get any extra money out of Brexit. 50% think the leave campaign lied, 37% that remain lied.

    There seems to be a slight edging towards a majority for remain 47%/44%. That trend would seem to be broadly in line with other polls since the referendum.

    I continue to think that economic outlook will be decisive, and real economic effects of Brexit would make a big change to the levels of support. Whether they will happen before we might actually leave remains to be seen. Similarly, if we do leave, whether we then rejoin will depend on what happens to the economy.

  19. Being so steeped in the scientific imperative for theory followed by proof, presumably Hawking will wish to address the detail of Hunt’s response to him .

    Hawking is also-presumably-assessing the proof of his opinion that it would be best for the Labour Party if Corbyn stood down before the GE.

  20. Alec

    Your correct I would be very disappointed if we are subject to the rulings of the ECJ on purely UK affairs. That would mean that we have not left the EU and remain a vassal state.

    It beggars belief that some cannot see how wrong it would be for the ECJ to have supremacy over some of the internal affairs of the UK after Brexit. I can only describe these people as arch appeasers as it reminds me of some attitudes form the 30s.

  21. Alec

    I should have added as i posted yesterday that the British Governments position remains basically the same as outlined in May’s speecg and the White Paper. I suggest you stop reading the Guardian for a while, you seem easily influenced my sill newspaper tittle tattle.

  22. Suppose for the sake of argument, we negotiated a very simple trade deal with the EU. No tariffs, but UK goods sold in the EU to meet EU standards and safety laws, EU goods sold in UK to meet UK standards and safety laws.
    Which courts would decide disputes?
    Now suppose we negotiated an exactly similar trade deal with USA.
    Which courts would decide disputes?

  23. I should also have noted that there are many disputes which have nought to do with trade agreements, which at present can be referred to the ECJ for final decision, but with UK properly outside EU, would not be.

  24. @toh

    Viewed from another point this makes a lot of sense. A slow withdrawal from the eu that will wean the economy from the eu. At some point a controversial decision will be made and there will be pressure to break further away. It will be a slowmo break away but not necessarily a surrender

  25. The UK Supreme court making decisions on the basis of ECJ rulings still creates the possibility that it will decide differently to the ECJ, at which point the system breaks down.

    As to TOH;

    “Your correct I would be very disappointed if we are subject to the rulings of the ECJ on purely UK affairs. That would mean that we have not left the EU and remain a vassal state.

    It beggars belief that some cannot see how wrong it would be for the ECJ to have supremacy over some of the internal affairs of the UK after Brexit. I can only describe these people as arch appeasers as it reminds me of some attitudes form the 30s.”

    All very letter to the Telegraph from John Bull but it hardly addresses the problem; if we are to have open trade relations with the worlds largest trading block we will need an arbiter for dispute resolution.

    Equally if we have free trade deals with anyone else we will need an arbiter with them too. Currently that is done through the EU.

    We either stick with the ECJ, go down the WTO route or set up our own body, with potentially would have different rules for different trading partners.

    Stick with the baby in the bath, throw out the bady with the bath or bath the baby in the sink!

    Peter.

  26. @ Peter Cairns

    Good comment. It begs the question whether any country can be trully independent ?

    I have never quite understood the argument that the UK can lead the world in free trade and any downsides would not cause most people or businesses signficant issues. This cannot be known, because when you negotiate trade deals they come with conditions. Some of these conditions might have adverse consequences to UK businesses.

    How many hardline Brexorcists would be willing for the UK to negotiate a major trade deal with Russia, given how much Russian money is already being processed through London ? Would they be against Russian state companies owning UK assets and companies ?

  27. TOH

    “Vassal state?” Appeasers of the 1930’s?

    I suggest you withdraw that offensive hyperbole if you want to retain the right to criticise the language of any other posted on here…

  28. The Other Howard,
    “It beggars belief that some cannot see how wrong it would be for the ECJ to have supremacy over some of the internal affairs of the UK after Brexit.”

    But the Uk is subject to all sorts of external entities, will continue to be, and frankly plans to enter into more external agreements which will be of the same form. I have real problems where someone is proposing a course of action for the nation which just isnt practicable. The UK cannot survive totally isolated from the rest of the world.

  29. Can someone explain to me how submitting to WTO tariffs isn’t being a vassal state of the WTO if submitting to EU / ECJ rulings is to the EU?

  30. Andrew111

    I don’t think I am being offensive, just describing attitudes as I see them.

    Dave
    “I should also have noted that there are many disputes which have nought to do with trade agreements, which at present can be referred to the ECJ for final decision, but with UK properly outside EU, would not be.”

    Exactly the point I was making in response to Alec’s post. The ECJ cannot dictate to the UK after we leave the EU on matters relating to the internal workings of the EU, for example on the rules covering immigration.

    To be clear I was not talking about trade negotiations.

    Somerjohn

    TOH: “EU breakup could indeed lead to a renewal of European warfare.”

    “Which rather supports the point that the existence of the EU is currently the best explanation for the absence of war amongst its 28 members.”

    Not if you believe as I do that the direction the EU is taking is sowing the seeds of future conflict.

  31. @TOH

    OK, so you’re saying (the quotes are yours):

    (1) “EU breakup could indeed lead to a renewal of European warfare.”

    (2) “the direction the EU is taking is sowing the seeds of future conflict.”

    So whether the EU succeeds or fails, you believe there is likely to be war in Europe.

    As always, in your view, the EU id damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t.

  32. @TOH – a couple of your daftest posts there, I think.

    Any attempt to liken the EU to Nazi Germany of the 1930’s is simply offensive, and provides further evidence of my point previously that you are progressively becoming a less and less serious poster on here.

    In terms of the second post, if you think that the views of the man who was the government’s former head of legal services is merely Guardian tittle tattle, then more fool you. I had put you down as having a bit more of the grey matter, but you seem to be driven largely by ill informed prejudice. That is a shame, but Brexit has had the effect of stripping the pretence from many people’s views.

    I also find it interesting that, Like Davis, you too seem to be introducing a caveat in your approach to ECJ jurisdiction. You now talk about being “….subject to the rulings of the ECJ on purely UK affairs…”, which is an interesting apparent softening of your approach.

    Along with much of Brexit thinking, it also lacks clear logic. Just what are ‘purely UK affairs’?

    The area of trade is particularly pertinent here. In a world where tariffs are becoming less and less significant, and obviously non existent within the existing EU, the issues within trade are far more to do with market access and standards.

    The EU’s political and industrial leaders have consistently said, before, during and after the vote, that if the UK wants a trade deal, they will have to accept EU standards in areas that affect the costs of production. That includes environment, product standards, health and safety and working conditions, just to name a few. While ensuring part time workers have mandatory paid holidays might look like a purely UK matter, if you want a trade deal with the EU, it isn’t.

    Would you like the German’s to slash their industrial standards and costs, just so they could undercut our producers and butcher our economy? I suspect not. [There is an interesting historical point here. Back in the 1960’s, as part of a deal to allow Argentinian beef exports into the UK, Argentina had to accept permanent British inspectors at their exporting abbatoirs. They placed their meat production system under UK control as part of a trade deal. It’s been happening globally ever since].

    A trade deal of any description will entail agreement that the UK will continue to work to EU standards, both existing and future (even though we would have no input on the development of those future standards). Theresa May said as much last week in here position paper on Northern Ireland, where in effect she committed to the UK to maintaining identical standards as part of the ‘no border’ idea.

    It’s just a small step from keeping the same standards to adopting a common legal jurisdiction to oversee these, which again, Davis has accepted with his implied admission that while the UK won’t be subject to direct control by the ECJ, the option of indirect control is clearly being lined up.

    On the previous thread you opined that Davis is running rings around Barnier, which is a pretty unique reading of the situation. On every issue agreed to date the UK has rolled over, and none of the UK’s proposals so far have been accepted by the EU. Instead, you, and others like you, are being softened up for an ‘EU but not really EU type of deal that May knows needs to be struck, and the fact that you can’t see this provides ample illustration of the less than clear thinking of many who voted to leave.

  33. @ALEC

    I think some people figure that sovereignty is a very simple matter for them it is a feeling of control rather than the actuality and the details. I fear that in many ways the world that people understand before the the EU is one where the Uk had hard and soft power to impose deals that were sold as fair to everyone (we are after all the good guys ) and not just in the UK own interest.

    I can understand the whole vassal nation thing the TOH has but have to say that I just don’t agree with it. I think that david Davis is trying to make progress without losing face but I fear at this point the problem the UK has is that it desires a very different outcome to that of the EU and more over even if they want the same thing the approach to get there is diametrically opposite.

    The UK wants an overall deal where they can trade of payment for access. This means everything is nebulous until they see a deal that they can sell to the party and the electorate.

    The EU is essentially rule based. So for example they have not talked about the sum of money but how the sum is calculated. the UK does not care about the calculation indeed the calculation tied them down so they will not ever talk about the calculation for them it is the end sum which is important.

    I personally believe DD is hoping to get the trade deal talks going so he can do the trade off however I am not sure that the EU council of ministers will allow the ‘flexibility’. Remember this is setting the precedence for anyone else leaving. Thus I believe the rules based approach will be the way. What DD needs to do is agree the payment terms and then I feel everything else gets unlocked. The EU understands without their being rules and a precedence then it becomes a free for all. The UK needs a free for all to muddy the waters

  34. TOH

    It is highly offensive to call people you don’t agree with ‘appeasers’ wanting to remain in a ‘vassal state’.

    No-one on this site is calling you names so I suggest a more civilised approach from you in future.

  35. @Smileyben

    “Can someone explain to me how submitting to WTO tariffs isn’t being a vassal state of the WTO if submitting to EU / ECJ rulings is to the EU?”

    Something something Germans something something I read it in the Daily Mail something something sovereignity.

    I hope that clarifies things.

  36. smiley ben

    it is as if you have a dispute with someone and you go to court and find that the someone will decide the case.
    I am sure from your posts you can see nothing wrong with that.

  37. @Colin

    What’s the point? Hunt hasn’t actually provided anything new, just waffle.

    Hunt states:

    “Researchers often disagree so you do have to make a judgement – and I based mine on the Fremantle study of 2015 because it was quite simply the most comprehensive and detailed paper ever done on the topic.”

    That flies against all scientific reason. If you have multiple studies with conflicting answers, you don’t just pick one ‘because it’s the biggest’, there’s been more than enough said on this site about the nature and relevance of sample sizes. That study in question finds (from interrogating a large pile of patient discharge records) that there was a very small increase in risk of being dead in 30 days if you’ve been admitted at the weekend. Less mentioned is that it also found if you’re already in hospital you’re actually least likely to die on a sunday. What it did not do is demonstrate any link between that and staffing levels. Causality has been assumed (by Hunt – the authors are careful to not do this) with little attempt to eliminate additional factors (e.g. people might be more likely to end up with a fatal condition at the weekend)

    The authors themselves of that study do actually write:

    “It is not possible to ascertain the extent to which these excess deaths may be preventable; to assume that they are avoidable would be rash and misleading.”

    I always cringe when a celebrity scientist is held up as a font of all knowledge but in this particular instance Hawking is correct. Hunt is very much cherry picking studies (actually cherry picking bits of studies and ignoring caveats) to fit his own belief that:

    “what every doctor in their heart knows to be true: we desperately need to improve the quality of care offered to those admitted at weekends.”

    (anecdote alert!)

  38. @TOH – sorry, but if you really don’t think likening the EU to Nazi Germany isn’t offensive, then there really is something wrong with you.

    I think @Paul Croft had something to say about how rapidly posters revert to Nazi/Hitler/Third Reich analogies – although it may have been someone else?

  39. “Can someone explain to me how submitting to WTO tariffs isn’t being a vassal state of the WTO if submitting to EU / ECJ rulings is to the EU?”

    Very simple. The WTO is an international organisation used by nation states for their own benefit. The EU is a pseudo super-state whose members are subservient to it (and it is heading more in that direction). The EU replaced democratically-elected governments in both Italy and Greece with its own nominees for example.

  40. colin

    “Hawking is also-presumably-assessing the proof of his opinion that it would be best for the Labour Party if Corbyn stood down before the GE.”

    Assuming you mean before the last election there is the obvious problem of definitive proof.

    We know Corbyn did better than expected but still lost. We don’t know who might have replaced them and whether they would have done better or worse.

    We also don’t know if a new opposition leader would have dissuaded May from calling an unnecessary election and therefore – obviously – we don’t know who, if anyone, that course of events would have benefited.

    Finally [!!] we don’t know if Corbyn/the left now being securely in position, as a direct result of May calling an election whilst he was Labour leader, will turn out to be a good thing for the Labour Party or not.

  41. ALEC
    I had a run in with SEAT CHANGE a week or so ago in which s/he went for an erroneous “full Godwin” re my views and The Third Reich. Can’t help thinking that a lot of Brexiteers are at base re-fighting WW2, in their heads at least.

  42. “The EU replaced democratically-elected governments in both Italy and Greece with its own nominees for example.”

    Except that Monti was appointed by the Italian President after the resignation of the incumbent and had his appointment confirmed by vote in both houses of their parliament, with just one party voting against.

    I suspect that if you have a look at what actually happened, you might find that the constitutions of both countries were followed.

  43. @PETE B

    I find it intriguing that we we believe that the EU basically replaced democratically elected government in Greece and Italy

    I suppose the IMF does the same in most third world states…….and did so to the Labour Party when it went to the IMF.

    In the case of greece, They had no where to go except the EU to get money to keep their country afloat. you are correct i did not matter whom was in power at the time the simple economics of the situation was to either default or accept the deal. The EU did not force Greece or Italy to get themselves into the situation they found themselves in.

    Now there is an argument for debt forgiveness for greece but that is a whole other argument. Both Italy and greece could have forged a very different route and yet when people were given the vote on this they decided not to.

    had greece defaulted, ( some in the EU such a finland Slovakia and Slovenia did not want to pay any more into the Greek fund) then it would have been an interesting time seeing how greece would have sorted out it’s debt and how EU would have coped with the write off. But it did not happen because the cost politically to those that would have carried the can was just too great.

    Having no choice good choices is not the same as having no choice.

  44. @PETE oops that was not meant in reply to you but ALEC

    apologies

  45. Re the poll: assuming that we are now looking at something a lot closer to the traditional two-party politics, and that that state of affairs continues, then this is a good poll for the Tories.

    There is no good news for the government on virtually anything at the moment, whilst Labour are as settled and popular as they have been for quite a while so polls within margin of error are good for them.

    It suggests to me that what happens next is an open question – though I do fear the Tory ability to remain in power, and especially so given the support of large sections of the press.

    Pretty obviously the EU negotiations are vital and, like others, I still feel that they might unravel. IF that led to a second referendum and we vote to remain then the Tories are stuffed.

  46. JAMESB

    I meant Hunt’s response to ALL of Hawking’s assertions :-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/19/stephen-hawking-hero-no-evidence-support-claims-nhs-conservatives/amp/

    I have a recurrent persistent cardiac condition which has taken me into A&E 23 times in 20 years. Sods law dictates that this occurred on a Friday or Saturday night sometimes. On those occasions I just have to wait for Monday morning for the cardiac specialists & the usual procedure-because they aren’t available at the weekend. Simple as that. I don’t know what risk this posed for me-I would rather not know-and would rather I didn’t have to face it.

  47. Good afternoon all from a warm and cloudy central London.

    Labour still holding its lead over the Tories and the Lib/dems still suffering from the Vince bounce.. I mean 6%, I wouldn’t even open my curtains for that!!
    …….
    “I’m off for the next week, so won’t be updating even if there are any chunky polls to write about”
    ——
    AW
    I’m sure they have the Internet in Margate so no excuses please..;-)

  48. PAUL CROFT

    All very true-you would make a fine scientist :-)

  49. COLIN

    Thankyou.

    [Do scientists know bugger-all as well?]

  50. I think it’s time some peeps organised a search for CARFREW – perhaps in the thorium mines, storage containers or summat.

    He’s prolly okay but – of course – it is definitely a bit of a concern…

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