YouGov’s latest poll for the Times has topline voting intention figures of CON 40%, LAB 40%, LDEM 6%, GRN 5% – the first time that the Conservatives have lost their lead in a YouGov poll since Boris Johnson became leader. Opinium also put out a poll showing the parties neck-and-neck at the end of August, though there most recent poll has the Conservatives ahead again. Other recent polls have also showed a narrowing – Redfield & Wilton had 2 point Tory lead this week, Survation 2 points and NCPolitics 4 points earlier in September.

To some degree this isn’t really a surprise. The Conservatives no longer have the advantage of a more popular leader, with Keir Starmer consistently getting higher approval ratings than Boris Johnson. The “rally round the flag” factor – the tendency for people to support the government at times of national crisis – has now vanished, and public opinion is increasingly critical of the government’s handling of the corona outbreak. In YouGov’s tracker the proportion of people thinking the government are handling corona well is down to 30% (lower than any of the other countries tracked). The question may perhaps be why the Conservatives aren’t doing worse?

Part of that may be the underlying factor of Brexit. Boris Johnson was elected primarily on a platform of delivering Brexit – it is still seen as one of the most important issues facing the country, and the Conservatives still have a solid lead on delivering it. There is also still a lack of confidence in the Labour party – while Starmer is seen as a potential Prime Minister, people still appear to have very little idea what he stands for (the YouGov poll today contained questions asking what issues people cared about the most, and what issues people think the Labour party and Keir Starmer himself cared about. The latter returned an overwhelming Don’t know). Only 28% of people think that the Labour party looks ready for government, and they have negative trust ratings on issues like the economy, Brexit or defence & security. While Starmer’s leadership has had a good start, the Labour party has a way to go.

Either way, at this stage in a Parliament the importance of less is less predictive (after all, there are probably years to go), and more the impact on party morale, and how the parties are percieved. Remember, one of Boris Johnson’s main selling points to the Conservative party was that he was popular with the public. He was the Tory who could reach parties that other Tories could not. What becomes of him if Labour pull ahead and the Tory party realise that he isn’t popular anymore?

1,317 Responses to “Labour and Conservatives neck-and-neck in latest YouGov poll”

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  1. SJ – Benn whilst on the far left os mainstream politics as unequivocally within the range of acceptability like Farage is on the right while Yaxley-Lennon is not.

  2. @JamesE

    “So, if the ONS estimate of 1 in 500 is correct, the figures revealed by testing are still only around 30-40% of the current outbreak.”

    Agree, but that must be much higher than the % picked up on wave 1.

    Maybe 10% then, which would indicate the death total from wave 2 will be c. 15k, if – and it is a big if – we manage to suppress now.

  3. @TW 10.01 am

    Verhofstadt was being satirical, mocking people like you with strange obsessions about the sinister purposes of the EU.

    It is naughty to quote people out of context; at the time, if I remember correctly, he had just been irritated by a xenophobic British politician and was letting off steam afterwards.

  4. JJ: Benn whilst on the far left os mainstream politics as unequivocally within the range of acceptability like Farage is on the right while Yaxley-Lennon is not.

    I’m happy to substitute Farage if you prefer. Though I suspect there are plenty who share much if not all of Y-L’s philosophy who would see themselves as part of acceptable mainstream politics.

    ‘ federation of states if you prefer. Every attempt to do so in the past has ended badly.’

    Germany? Italy? Switzerland? UK? USA? India? Pakistan?

    Have they ALL ended badly?’

    Another inconvenient fact for TW, I am sure what he meant to say was that they all ended badly except the ones that didn’t:-)

  6. @JIMJAM

    I’ve had the same experience. Apparently the Finns have closer linguistic/cultural ties to Estonia and Hungary than to Scandinavia. And feel a bit sensitive to domination by their larger Scandinavian and Russian neighbours.

    I had a great holiday there though: incomprehensible language, and warm and zany people.

  7. @ RICHARDW – I clarified the Verhofstadt issue as being Verhofstadt’s team (see 11:05am) are you now saying it was him?

    However, yes, I would agree with you on the “mocking” issue from Verhofstadt and many of his team. They are not used to referendums not going their way and/or not having a “do over” until they get the result they want.

    Perhaps you approve of their disgust for democracy and democratic votes? Would you approve of Trump refusing to accept the US presidential vote if he doesn’t get the result he wants?

    @ TE (11:50am) – You might to check some history mate. Every country you list has had a chequered past which has at some point ended “badly” for some of it’s population and/or neighbours.

    USA has been the most stable for the longest but Caliexit one day perhaps? Unlike European powers then US have historically chosen a more imperialist than colonial approach and I would think most folks would agree that has usually ended badly (recent eg Iraq War, Arab Spring..)

  8. TW: Every country you list has had a chequered past which has at some point ended “badly” for some of it’s population and/or neighbours.

    Care to list the unitary countries that haven’t “had a chequered past which has at some point ended “badly” for some of it’s [sic] population and/or neighbours”?

  9. @TW:
    ‘Every country you list has had a chequered past which has at some point ended “badly” for some of it’s population and/or neighbours.’

    Are you really arguing it is good the UK left the EU because otherwise we may end up like the UK?

  10. @TW

    Desist this foolishness!

    Everybody knows that human groups have been clumping together and splitting apart ever since history began. There is no theoretically ideal size for these groups.

    There may be something in the subsidiarity idea though: that power should be devolved as low down as practically possible.

  11. @ SJ – India+Pakistan split and have still have disputes, US genocide of it’s native population.

    Germany quite obviously I’d have thought. Swiss have done well though.

    Note TE tried the tangent to other “federal states” but I was quite specific about a European Empire. To be clear that is not just a small part of Europe that has managed to keep out of wars and keep it borders more or less the same for some time but an Empire that… what might Gove call it…

    stretches from France to the Russian border

    How many of those European Empires have ended well?

  12. @ TE – “Everybody knows that human groups have been clumping together and splitting apart ever since history began”

    So you accept “splitting apart” then. Thank you.

  13. @TW

    Read the question!

    (Elementary advice to serial failers).

  14. @TW

    You’re welcome: Everybody knows that human groups have been clumping together and splitting apart ever since history began.

    As the Buddha (nearly) said: nothing is forever, not even the bad things.

  15. @ TE – Great to be able to agree with you


    Govt is preparing a devolution white paper; there is some reference to the SouthWest bid here:

    IMO we don’t want another layer of local govt. It’s confusing enough as it is. But devolution of powers and money to existing local authorities should be considered – apparently we are one of the centralised countries in europe.

  17. Confirmed cases in England still rising, according to LG Inform, while the King’s app and NHS 111 indicate reductions.

    These soft indicators are behaving oddly, but it will be interesting to watch. Maybe the public has taken fright and are reducing risks and therefore transmission, and cases may start to level off or fall?

    Not too sure yet, but one to watch.

  18. @TW

    No, I hadn’t read your post of 11.05 at the time of posting and nor had I looked up the original TV documentary. Mea culpa.

    No, we do not agree about the mocking. V’s team was not mocking the referendum result, but British assumptions in the negotiations (eating your cake and having it). Your analogy with Trump is just a debating point, such as I associate with certain former members of the Oxford Union.

  19. @ TE – GSW is not an additional layer of local govt. More info at:

    They have a “prospectus” (not a manifesto) that can be found on that link.

    I’ve referred to that region as “proper SW” before (there is already a “devolved” Mayor of West of England for the “posh SW” and GSW are not seeking that a “Mayor” role or powers)

    Apart from 2 specks on Red (Exeter and Plymouth S+D) then 29 of the 31 MPs in GSW are CON. One of them could and should be GSW equiv of:–76

    It is about having a voice in govt and unlike devolution then being a “minister” role then it would switch to whichever party was in power (in theory you could have the situation where a region does not have at least one MP from the party in power but cross that bridge if/when we come to it). The “Mayor” issue can create friction similar to, but not as extreme as, the devolved nations (eg Burnham and Khan quite happy to “blame” HMG to help their own re-election chances)

    You’d hope, but not expect, some continuity of purpose from GSW if the team in #10 changed (eg on infrastructure, support for important local sectors, investment in future growth industries, etc). LAB winning in “woke” (student) city seats and CON winning in towns and rural might make that a bit “naive” on my part I admit.

    TBC but if CON want to keep GSW 94% Blue then it would IMO be a good move to give them a “minister” who can then ensure some “bungs” head their way ;)

  20. @Alec

    I don’t think they are levelling off at all

    Big numbers in Scotland and Wales this afternoon


    714 new cases of COVID-19 reported; this is 11.5% of newly tested individuals
    0 new reported deaths of people who have tested positive
    11 people were in intensive care yesterday with recently confirmed COVID-19
    99 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed COVID-19
    17,518 new tests for COVID-19 that reported results


    370 new cases

    3 deaths

    Case number a record in Scotland and probably in Wales too (I don’t have back data for wales)

  21. As I said last night, it’ll get worse before it gets better. The week commencing 30th March had a total of 2,322 cases, then 2,206, then 2,275.

    This week (so far) has 2,861 and I fully expect it to exceed 3,000. Maybe 3,500.

    The foolish think they know better, and are fools to more than just themselves. If we’re lucky, it’s mostly young, healthy students and it’ll be 2-3 weeks of campus isolation and that’ll be that.

  22. If this wave follows the earlier pattern, when would we expect to see a big spike in deaths? A couple of weeks from now?

  23. @TW

    Well, no new powers or money means no new powers or money!

  24. University of Glasgow issue details of support package for hall of residence students required to isolate – including a rent rebate.

  25. Toby Ebert

    The difficulty with “subsidiarity” comes when media and opposition politicians campaign against something being a “postcode lottery”, and demand that central government ensures identical provision everywhere.

    For subsidiarity to work, there has to be an acceptance that a consequence, of different decisions being taken locally, is that different decisions are taken locally!

  26. @ PETE B – A crude historical regression is 12% of hospital admissions will die in 7days time. Add Care Homes (x1.3 ish historically)

    England hospital admissions are over 300 per day now which would mean we’ll be seeing 50ish daily deaths next week.

    At the current growth rate 100 per day by mid-late Oct. Beyond that very much depends on current infections and lets hope the R is back down to 1 or below, at least in the more “at risk” demographics.

    As others mention if it “burns out” in uni halls of residence and folks are generally adhering to rules and being a lot more “alert” then we might get lucky and see a mini peak that then subsides. Let’s hope so – but hope is all it is.

    Cases is IMO less reliable data for many reasons, skewed much more to younger demographics this time and catching a lot more actual infections means anyone who looks at CFR instead of IFR should see that % drop. ONS infection survey might be worth using as it estimates actual Infections rather than recorded Cases. Assume a 2week delay on that[1] (ie from infection to death) and estimate an average IFR at maybe 0.5%

    Lots of reasons to hope deaths will be lower than historic regressions (eg better treatments, less transmission with hospital, less transmission into and then within Care Homes, etc) but TBC of course.

    Also high MoE in the daily numbers of course, weekend effect, etc. If Care Homes is better/worse that will make a big difference as well.

    [1] Most recent week ends 19Sep and was est. 9,600 per day which would also get to 50 deaths per day next week using assumptions above. Hence two methods to get roughly same numbers.

  27. @Old Nat

    Yes – my daughter is at Glasgow and got the cash message – very welcome as otherwise pretty hefty cost for facilities they can make little use of

  28. TW

  29. @Statgeek – “I don’t think they are levelling off at all”

    No I’m not too sure about that either.

    The King’s app is something of a mystery to me. They showed persistently falling cases when I thought it was obvious from the confirmed case data, testing location pattern and positivity rate that there was at first a steady, latterly quite a sharp, rise in cases. The kings App eventually caught up with the rise, but for some reason – sampling? – they seemed a little divorced from the hard data.

    The 111 assessments are really interesting though. Throughout my detailed monitoring period, (up to mid Sept really) they did what I expected: showed a leading indication of confirm case increases, with the 111 count being broadly speaking 4 – 6 days in advance, but predicting the general trend, if not the actual case numbers.

    Then from the 12th to the 14th, 111 went bananas, doubling from 18,000 to 36,000 in 48hrs. It then fell back quite sharply, and is now bouncing around between 15,000 – 20,000 with no discernible trend, or possibly a falling back. Over the last week or so, this has largely appeared to divorce from hard case data.

    My guess here is that the 12th-14th coincided with the collapse of the testing system, with high levels of anxiety from people who felt ill and wanted tests and couldn’t get them, or just people who saw the news and thought they should ring to check an odd symptom etc. This combination of concern over lack of tests and general anxiety from the news cycle may have prompted more calls.

    Since then, things have settled down, and the very notable spike has settled back to a point three times higher than at the end of August, but perhaps more reflective of reality?

    The above is guesswork though and simply an attempt to reconcile conflicting data – I can’t offer proof of concept for this theory, so approach with a large pinch of salt.

  30. TW

    @” GSW is not an additional layer of local govt”

    Yet !

    The GSW Prospectus says :-

    “There is a compelling case to establish a small and dedicated Great South West resource that would be the fulcrum for our endeavours across the region and act as the conduit with HM Government. ”

    and they propose that this is the structure to achieve it :-

    “”• Providing a secretariat and partnership function to provide support the Great South West partnership and to strengthen links across a landscape that includes the two (shadow) SubNational Transport Bodies, three Local Enterprise Partnerships and the AllParty Parliamentary Group

    • Establishing a Futures Network to share analysis and insights
    to inform our understanding of future opportunities, developing a
    comprehensive view of what the Great South West could look like in 2035 and what we need to do to get there .

    • Giving voice to the Great South West by developing the brand, providing an effective public affairs role and collaborating with Government departments (eg BEIS, MHCLG, DIT,
    DFT, DEFRA).

    • Creating a single trade and investment hub to operate more
    economically and effectively across the Great South West and drive
    exports from our Green and Blue economic sectors. “.

    How long before that morphs into a Greater South West Authority?

    What exactly does Gary Streeter have in mind?

    He said this to BBC :-““I think that is the way forward and I think the Government is halfway to agreeing with us, we will see what happens over the next couple of months.
    I don’t really think anyone envisages an independent Cornwall looking forward. We need to be slightly bigger in our grouping and more ambitious in our vision than that.”.

    A remark which did not go uninterpreted in Cornwall:-

    “Cornwall Council leader Julian German said that he did not consider it a body to create a combined authority.Cllr German, who attended the launch of a Great South West prospectus in the House of Commons in January, said: “Great South West has been a coming together of councils, LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships), businesses, colleges and universities to promote the area.
    “We have got fantastic opportunities around the green economy, how we tackle climate change and how we use renewables to do that.
    “It is great that we have come together and we are asking the Government to support us in delivering that green revolution.
    “We haven’t talked about a combined authority – I wouldn’t be supportive of a combined authority.
    “We have talked about coming together where we have shared opportunities, shared challenges looking at the likes of tourism for the south west and we are happy to do that. Cornwall collaborates with areas like Cumbria and Oxfordshire and different areas with shared interests and we are happy to collaborate across the south west when it is in our mutual interests to do so.”

    And as for your @”I’ve referred to that region as “proper SW” before ” I am surprised that someone who objects to top down integration & Empire building in the EU should make such a pronouncement.

    You will not be surprised that the Cornish object to this sort of imperialism:-

    ” “There is this Great South West thing that MK has always been against and very critical of. The Great South West is not, as Gary Streeter claims, a coherent region.
    “We have the historic region of Cornwall and we will fight to protect that and we are going to be making that case as strongly as we can.
    “I hope that the Conservative government isn’t pushed into a top-down regionalisation that ignores the unique culture, heritage and history of Cornwall.
    “Cornwall Council is talking up devolution for Cornwall but the government office south west is pushed by the MPs and Great South West is pushed by the government to a degree.
    “I am quite uncomfortable with talk of a combined authority. We need to be campaigning quite strongly against it.
    “We have got to keep making the argument that Cornwall will be better if it has more powers itself.”
    (Dick Cole, leader of Mebyon Kernow at Cornwall Council, )

    Actually Mr Streeter’s attitude to these things is somewhat ambivalent.:-

    ( following is from -Streeter’s voting record)

    He “Generally voted against more EU integration.” , but doesn’t on the other hand seem too keen on devolution either:

    “Generally voted against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly.”
    “Almost always voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament”

    and perhaps most tellingly :-
    “Generally voted against more powers for local councils”.

    So I think the Cornish County Councillors are right to wary of Mr . Streeter’s Trojan Horse.

  31. @ TE – I take your point but a system where a regional group of MPs can “lobby” for their regional interests via a dedicated minister means a…

    Perhaps as a more RoC type then I see it as hierarchy structure that is “better” than a system of a “devolved” power fighting against (blaming) the central power (for the regions at least… TBC on the nations…)

    The current NUTS system of regions is… well NUTS. We’ve left the EU and hence a chance to reconsider the regions.

    GSW seems a fairly obvious one (ie chop off the “posh” bit and redraw it as the “proper” bit). East Anglia? At the moment Herts is in East of England but we’re not “coastal” – we’d fit “better” into ‘Home Counties’ or ‘Middle (South) England’?

    That all assumes a regional plan of course. TBC on that but CON HMG need to replace some of the regional funding that Brussels used to do and given we’ve now cut out the “middle man” then I’d like to see the Brexit dividend ensure that the regional “bungs” are roughly double what they used to be.

    I don’t think we need to go as far as putting little signs on everything saying “Paid for by UK HMG”, no need for a new “Ministry of Information” ;)

  32. JIB

    “Agree but that must be much higher than the % picked up on wave 1.”

    If you just work backwards from the deaths, it appears that only about 7% of cases were identified in the March-June ‘wave’. In very rough terms, 300,000 of a suspected 4million.

    So if my estimate of 30-40% of cases being identified by testing now is correct, we are picking up five times the proportion of cases we were 4-6 months ago.

  33. @ COLIN – I take your point and TBC of course. It’s more a case of what do we do to replace the old NUTS system and the scraps of our own money given back to our own regions by EC

    We have a “one-off” chance to change the approach. There is certainly a range of arguments and opinion but for practical and political reasons then I would expect Dom wants to “change” the old EC approach. I appreciate that might create or be construed as Wahlgeschenke or Kantönligeist.

    In terms of “dedicated resources” then that is a slippery slope. The French commune system creates some issues in areas like the Alps. If you happen to be in a commune with a hydro plant and/or ski resort you can build yourself awesome local community stuff, have low council taxes, etc. If you’re next door to that and don’t have hydro or something then you’re screwed.

    I hope UK (or what remains of it) continues to be a genuine transfer union, levelling up the left behind regions.

    The level of hierarchy to best achieve that?!? A heated debate I’m sure.

  34. @Pete B – “If this wave follows the earlier pattern, when would we expect to see a big spike in deaths? ”

    One answer i guess is that we’ve already seen one – it’s just that we have all re-framed our conceptual framework of how we define ‘big spike in deaths’.

    Seven day average figures for; Hospital admissions/patients in hospital/deaths – all UK

    31/8 119/790/7.1

    7/9 159/838/10.4

    14/9 230/907/18.9

    21/9 –/1,351/24.1 (hosp admissions ave not available).

    Up until 5 days ago daily deaths have increased by a factor of 3.39, which is quite a hefty increase. Oddly enough, over the same period, the 7 day daily case average has increased by an almost identical 3.46.

  35. @OLDNAT

    Exactly so – it’s not a win-win. It’s just a political choice about where should power/money lie.


    TBH it sounds like a website with a suit behind it. It would be difficult to devolve the SW anyway, but this is just can-kicking IMO. All the money and power is staying Westminster – which is exactly what the problem is.

  36. TW.

    I’m in favour of levelling up.And believe me, for in Oggy Land so do they.But they also have stealthy cynicism at top down, remotely defined notions of ” The South West. “.

    So do i.I have deep reservations about “Regions” whose population has not been consulted about its relevance to them and their lives.

    This touches firmly on a key area of my reservations about EU. These are principles for me which are no less relevant in UK.

    We have debated the many complex layers which constitute a person’s sense of their own identity. The “geography” component_more correctly ” place” perhaps is very important.You need to ask people what theirs is.Not just tell them in the Press.

  37. Alec
    “One answer i guess is that we’ve already seen one – it’s just that we have all re-framed our conceptual framework of how we define ‘big spike in deaths’.”

    I take your point, but unless deaths accelerate past the 100 mark I for one won’t be too bothered, apart from taking reasonable precautions.

  38. @TW

    These “scraps” were what most regions and the 3 small nations paid in.

  39. Pete B
    If the second wave followed the first we would already be seeing 845 deaths a day.
    As it happens case numbers out for today down 800 from yesterday with 34 deaths reported of cases within the last 28days up by 12 from a week ago.

  40. @ Bardin1

    I hope your daughter is still going to get some face-to-face teaching on site.

    My son had incessant meetings right through the summer on how his Edinburgh department was going to manage this, e.g. on the building layout being made spatially safe, where to house lecture attenders, what arrangements for foreign students (75% of their M.Scs come from SE Asia), exam arrangements and marking, use of paper scripts, etc.

    And much of the time they had to do these conferences remotely, with their actual rooms in the department out-of-bounds.

    Even the colleague working full-time on Grenfell couldn`t retrieve items from his room he felt important.

  41. Steve
    That’s encouraging, though because very little testing was done early on (only hospital admissions?) you would expect the deaths/cases to be higher then because they were only looking at serious cases.

  42. @ TW

    I should have said these “scraps” were MORE than what most regions and the small nations paid in.

  43. Steve

    “If the second wave followed the first we would already be seeing 845 deaths a day.”

    I think that what you are saying is the last time that tests revealed 6,000 cases per day*, there were around 845 deaths.

    The fault with that argument is so obvious that it doesn’t even need repeating.

    * around 5th April

  44. @ COLIN – Perhaps we start a discussion, open to all, with where we were:

    Then consider the devolved bits we already have:
    – devolved national parliaments (and EVEL)
    – minister for Northern Power House (Berry) and an additional small mandate for Midlands Engine Champion (Jenrick)
    – mayors (large and small)
    – councils and LAs

    and then where we might want to get to??

    A/ Cornish Independence? Well MK (Party for Cornwall) have 4 of 67 seats on Cornish Council, ‘nuf said.

    B/ In terms of public opinion then at the extreme end of options then we had a ref on NE Eng assembly in 2004 (lost by 78% to 22%) so I think those are out.

    Z/ At the other end is scrapping/rolling back some of the current framework.

    There is a huge range of options between AB and Z.

    I appreciate what TE says about “power and money” being linked so we need to overlay the hierarchy with the power and money side. My 2c is that we want to avoid the “blame game” stuff and avoid unnecessary additional levels of power but balancing that with ensuring local people have input to local decisions.

    I’m not fixed on my view of what the plan should be, but we do need a plan and pronto.


    Mebyon Kernow: 4.8% (4 seats).

    Error in 5:36pm. Total seats is 123 (not 67)

  46. TW.

    I am not advocating indy. for Cornwall.

    Just questioning yet another arbitrarily defined “Region” called The South West overlayed on top of existing LAs.

    You finish up with a dog’s breakfast of competing power brokers.

    Not easy.

  47. @ COLIN – Certainly not easy.

    The default is to just leave the “hierarchy” side as it currently is[1] but just replace whatever Brussels did with Westminster and hopefully go a bit “above and beyond” on the money side.

    Given the walking on egg shells issues and more urgent issues then perhaps start with that and “kick the can” on it a bit?

    That gives UKPR years to discuss it ;)

    [1] Having a specific minister for Northern Power House kind of started something tho. Might be tricky to “put a pin in that”. Clearly an issue to resolve with Indy Scotland etc as well. That ain’t going away quietly. Welsh are stirring as well. I posted their report but some press links:

    “initial exploratory referendum” a smart move from Price?

    CON and WCON will be against that of course but it does out LAB, WLAB in a tricky position given Starmer’s view on Indy Scotland.

  48. Pete/James

    Were they less seriously dead in April?
    Being dead isn’t a particularly difficult number to count.

    But feel free James to explain why there was some difference that’s so obvious between the number dying in April than now unless you mean the obvious fact that less elderly and at risk are being exposed so consequently mortality against confirmed cases had dropped 97% which is kind of obvious.

    I very much doubt that there’s some secret group of victims dying without being counted.
    Even our CMO is only predicting mortality levels at around 10% of the previous peak.

    What’s it with you and the inability to count?

  49. Steve

    It’s the proportion of ‘confirmed cases’ being revealed by testing that makes the comparison invalid.

    The 6,000 daily cases we’re seeing now are maybe 30-40% of the true number. But the 6,000 per day we had in April was probably only a tiny proportion of the number infected at that time – my rough estimate from earlier today was around 7% as an average across the March-June ‘wave’. It was probably far lower in the earlier stages, too.

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