A new YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has voting intention figures, with changes from YouGov’s previous poll at the end of October, of CON 41% (nc), LAB 35% (-3), LDEM 13% (+2). No dates yet, but the poll would probably have been conducted between Thursday and Saturday.

After some incredibly volatile polls over the last few months I think we are at last beginning to see a clear picture in the polls. With the exception of Populus who have them slightly lower, Conservative support seems to have steadied in the low fourties – YouGov have had them at 41% for three polls in a row, Ipsos-MORI at 40-41 for three polls, ICM at 40-43% for three polls. Interestingly thir support seems to have settled at a higher level than before the Blair to Brown handover, the reason that they are not recording larger leads than they were back then is that is has also increased Labour’s support. All the pollsters have Labour in the mid-thirties, whereas during Blair’s long goodbye they were languishing in the low thirties – of course, Labour are still falling, we don’t know if trend will continue downwards, stay in the mid-thiries, recover or whatever.

Finally, the increase in Lib Dem support from YouGov’s poll means that all the polling companies have shown the Liberal Democrats recovering slightly, presumably thanks to the publicity of their leadership election – their ratings are still very low compared to the past few years, but their trend is upwards. Obviously it remains to be seen what happens to their support once their new leader is chosen.

UPDATE: Looking at the rest of the figures, Gordon Brown’s ratings have slumped – down from +30 the last time YouGov asked the question using this wording to -10 now, David Cameron’s are also down slightly at +15 rather than +20 in the last poll, which was done straight after his conference speech.

The poll also asked about Gordon Brown’s relationship with President Bush. An overwhelming 74% of people think Brown is less close to Bush than Tony Blair was, and they tend to approve of this. Only 10% think he is too distant from President Bush, 45% think he has the relationship about right. 21% would like him to be still more distant.

YouGov also asked about expectations of house prices next year – 33% expect them to continue rising, 25% expect them to drop.

There is surprisingly little here compared to the amount of polling the Sunday Times normally do – in the past they’ve done a nice series of consistent questions about preceptions of Gordon Brown’s and David Cameron’s characters, I didhope they’d do them again. More likely they’ve done something that isn’t time sensitive that they can publish at a later date.

114 Responses to “YouGov put the Tories 6 points ahead”

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  1. Labour party fanatics can say and think what they like. It will not change the fact they are going to lose big now whatever happens.

    Cameron is playing the only game in town and has my deepest respect for being so god damned smart. Which makes a change from recent past Tory leaders.

    He is doing it Thatcher stile, which is the only stile that wins Tories elections from opposition.

    You shut up as much as possible talk as little as seems credible about your opponents failings, and wait till the wheels fall off the government and the economy.

    He is saving it all for the election campaign.

    Which I believe will add at least 5-7 points by election day. So if he starts any where near, where he is now, we will have the biggest landslide Conservative victory in living memory.

    Contrast this with Labour who were full on opposition from day one back in 79. Achieved sometimes massive leads of up to 25% and still lost BIG. This has in no way been the pattern since 97.

    Even a quick analysis of polls over the last ten years will show that the Conservative vote is always solid, if they say they will vote Tory they will vote Tory. Floating voters in 2009 will be so sick and bored with Labour by then, they would rather vote for me then a Labour candidate.

    However a man so sublime confident presentable and infinitely smart as David Cameron will walk it.

  2. One other thing

    A political party gets its mandate from the people.

    Not the amount of seats they achieve. He may not get the most seats in living memory but he will I believe reach the largest popular majority vote, in the history of British elections results.

  3. He’s got the National coaltion’s 67.2% in 1931 to beat. It doesn’t sound particularly likely.

  4. Sally C I agree with most of what you say in this post . The much more important part of assessing opinion polls is usually in the detailed data certainly more so than in forecasting what will happen in a GE in 2 years time . To give just one example Mori monthly ask people what issues they consider most important . Not surprisingly Immigration , Crime , Education , the Economy are always at the top of the list , perhaps less surprisingly Devolution/WLQ/English Votes for Only English MP’s never registers as of importance for more than 1% of voters , and yet the English Democrats and the Little Englander wing of the Conservative Party talk about little else .
    Just back from the LibDem leadership hustings here in Worthing , well attended despite awful weather ( non stop rain , thunder and lightning ) and an excellent performance by both candidates who would both but the vacuous Cameron in the shade .

  5. Wolf: without polls they’d probably study tealeaves or the entrails of chickens – which may be just as reliable for predicting what will happen two years ahead!
    The conservatives will have to show a steady lead – an advancing lead – throughout that time if they are to overturn Labour. Recent months show how many unpredictable winds can blow either main party off course in that time span. Polls are (as several have said) just a snap-shot of the present – or actually, the recent past.

  6. If you exclude the National coalition (hardly a natural state of affairs compared to today), or even just look post-war, what’s the high watermark?

    I’d imagine that in the 50’s and 60’s sometimes it was very high. Also, what’s the high watermark for popular majority (or plurality) vote in terms of voters? IE most voters who voted for a party or highest difference in voters who voted for a party?

    Were the Tories to win big in 2010 (I can’t imagine Brown calling one in 2009) then population should mean there’s more people voting than deeper in history, even if turnout is lower.

  7. Quite a non-partisan remark there Mark :lol:

    Never met any of the major politicians in person, but not seen anything on TV to trouble me from Clegg or Huhne.

    JohnH: The lead neither needs to be steady nor advancing, though I expect both outside special circumstances. The old saying is true, only one poll matters (the one on election day), a party need not be solidly in the lead in opinion polls to win an election day poll.

  8. Philip
    It’s not often that an opposition wins “unexpectedly” – i.e. against the trend of polls during the last few months before an election. When (apart from dodgy polls) did this last happen – 1970?

  9. Multiple problems with that JohnH:

    1: You’re looking at a tiny sample (10 polls) and excluding 1992 when the Conservatives won against the polls.

    2: The sample of when the opposition won is even lower, occurring just 3 times after 1970. One can not draw serious rules of thumb from a sample of 3. Its simply not very often “that an opposition wins”. Full Stop. Its not “very often” that we have elections.

    3: In recent British politics 1 party has normally been “unelectable”: Excluding ’92 every election since 1979. One can not really draw much then from recent history.

    4: It is very easy a priori to look at history and say “this is was, thus this is shall be” without it being right. I do believe that the best predictor post-war of the election results is the holders FA Cup, whose shirt colour I believe matches the winning party in every election post-war. Does that mean I shouldn’t be cheering on Liverpool in 2009? Of course not. The sample isn’t big enough to be serious and is being noticed because it works, if it didn’t work nobody would notice it.

  10. both candidates who would both but the vacuous Cameron in the shade.

    Oh dear. Let’s just see what happens come election time, shall we?

  11. Interesting theory about the football shirt colour. I have a theory that history repeats itself – the Conservatives had two four-year terms followed by a five-year one and then an unexpected election victory, which i seem to remember some of my Tory friends wanted them to lose so that Labour would be blamed for the coming recession, and a better leader than Major found to benefit from a further 13-year stint in Government starting in 1997.

    It’s not a theory that holds any more water than the shirt colour one, but public opinion statistics do allow us to indulge in theorising. They seem to me to have a disproportionate influence on the debate, but if there’s not much difference between the policies, it’s not too surprising.

    In contrast, I’m looking forward to the London Mayor campaign – the policy and idea differences between Johnson and Livingstone are strong enough to move the focus onto the substantive issues and away from the “polling performance” aspect.

  12. Sally C

    I like your post 19 Nov-8.43pm very much-particularly :-

    “Like it or not, they are not just a reflection of the political narrative – they help write it.”

    Reference your remarks on immigration I was wondering if the PC brigade consider discussion of emigration racist as well?

    Following the recent realease of figures for last year-the greatest exodus of British nationals since before the first World War-it might be a topic worthy of discussion.
    An opinion poll asking the 207,000 Brits who left UK last year, why they left, might be interesting for the politicians.

  13. Effectively, the “spinmeisters” in the different camps will have less influence – I’m not blaming the polls, or analysts, or even the journalists who can’t see beyond them, but we don’t have to simply “live with” a system that is controlled by “political advisors”. The polls should not “write the narrative” – that leads us to going round in circles and becoming sheep-like.

  14. What entertaining messages this site is receiving – especially the calm, measured, balanced, unemotional, reasoned, logical, evidenced-based ones. Or do we have attempts at that time-honoured diversion – the burlesque?

  15. Anthony Wells, thank you for your post above – it would never have occured to me when looking at the ICM site that they might be showing the wrong numbers ! Which maybe tells us all something about the reliability of pollsters.

  16. Colin: You’re looking at two sides of the same coin. More people immigrating, more people emigrating – its just simply more people migrating. “The world is getting smaller” has never been more true, its easier than ever for people to move so more people get to choose where they want to live, rather than being stuck simply where they were born.

  17. Anthony,

    How, exactly, do you set fire to a cactus? I’d have thought they’d be too wet to be combustible.

  18. Philip

    I disagree that it’s the same coin.

    I agree that mobility across the globe is increasing-but people don’t move randomly. They move to or from a place for particular reasons.

    It seems to me that whilst there is a focus (quite correctly in my view) on the huge increase in immigration to UK ,there is little discussion the very significant increase in emigration of British citizens during the last decade.

    Actually Telegraph online ran a Blog for emigres .

    I thought the contributions most interesting & feel a more scientific opinion poll would be illuminating.

  19. Sean Fear
    You don’t set fire to A cactus. You set fire to a greenhouse – full of them – expensive ones. Owned by an “angry German”. Whether or not he was angry before, or only after – I don’t know.

  20. Colin

    Re: emmigration.
    Your question would be interesting – as would the TYPE of people leaving.

    It is often assumed it mainly consists of the wrinklies disappearing to the Med in order to play yet more havoc with their skin. Not so sure. The New Zealanders and Canadians claim their applications are up and mainly from families.
    One of the reasons given by many families being interviewed appeared to a better education and environment for their children.

  21. Mark Senior

    re ; Little England Tories

    Recent analysis of public spending per head has indicated that London and Scottish residents do best.
    The tax burden is high [and rising].

    So it would seem that those who get the best value for money are those on low income in London/Scotland.

    Those who recieve the poorest value are those paying high taxes in the English regions.

    – SO…that would be me then.
    – still wearing my Union Jack knickers
    – still believing in the Union [sorry Peter]
    – still voting Tory.

  22. Colin: Why are they not two sides of the same coin?

    100 years ago it would be rare for a person to move village, let alone country. 40 years ago it was rare to move countries, but becoming increasingly common to move village/town/city. Nowadays moving town/city is common and its becoming increasingly common to move countries.

    People are increasingly mobile. Why are more people moving? Because they can.

  23. Sean – I think it was one of the hairy ones (or some of the hairy ones)

  24. Sally C
    I thought the public spending per head figures included payment of salaries to public sector workers, which makes sense if the high wages of such people (Whitehall Civil Service included) in London are taken into account. Happy to be corrected if it really is the case that Londoners are among the lowest taxed/highest value, but if not, as a Londoner I;m happy to subsidise those in greater need than I.

    Hairy greenhouses would combust more easily, but surelky retain heat better than glazed ones?

  25. Philip

    “People are increasingly mobile. Why are more people moving? Because they can.”

    Yes I ask the same question -particularly given the dramatic change in trend.Unlike you Philip I don’t assume to know the answer.

    I believe very strongly that Market Research is a vital tool for those managing change in large organisations -be they corporations or governments.

  26. John T

    You may be right about the figure including public sector pay.
    Although there is not much of that in rural regions!

    I WAS NOT implying Londoners pay less tax. No sir. Only that there are people distributed in regions around the country, including the north of England – not just in the south and south-east etc. who pay high tax bills and do not have either their economy or infrastructure supported by the Govt AND who still support the Union, AND other regions requiring the uneven distribution of wealth AND still vote Tory.
    – contrary to views previously posted on this site.

    I am afraid I can offer no comment on hairy greenhouses having no knowledge of them – but I bow to you superior knowledge. You are clearly a scientist.

  27. Colin, it is a global and simple phenomenon. Migration has increased historically and globally as it becomes easier. I have not said the reasons why individuals choose to migrate, but the reason why the numbers are higher is different, that is simple. The numbers are higher, because its easier than ever.

    Individuals have individual reasons. People are complex and can not be reduced to numbers, if you get a poll it will be simplistic and not give the answers you’re looking for.

    However as you make it easier for people to do what they want, more people do it. Its so simple a logic its almost a truism. Its easier than ever to travel, its easier than ever to migrate. And more are doing so. You assume that’s a mere coincidence?

    You can spin it around: Why do more people go on holiday overseas now? Again, the reason why more do now than in the past is because they can.

  28. As everyone seems to be getting away from the point in this column – which was about the latest POLLS and the increased Liberal results .

    I think that the POLLS that will appear next week after a disasterous week for both the Liberals and Labour in the media .

    LIBERALS :- open hostility and childish bantering between Huhne & Clegg

    LABOUR :- The Northern Rock financial outcome to taxpayers / The loss of 25 million voters personal details / Figures showing a 49% drop in alcohol sales in pubs with a subsequent drop in pub turnover , that will eventiully lead to 49% of pubs shutting – due entirely to the unnecessary smoking ban / The death of Ian Smith who stood up alone to Labour aggression in 1965 – RIP

  29. Sally C
    I have no problems with your view, but the statistics you use are misleading (I think).If you strip away the cost of central government from the figures (inc Royal family?), the spend per head would reduce in London. I wonder how much people bear in mind the spending per head when deciding how to vote? Or can work out its meaning? I guess it comes under “economy” in the list.

    There are one or two turf-roofed (aka hairy) greenhouses around my neck of the woods, which probably offer a mosicum of fire-protection, and it is a LibDem area.

    Mike R – Lots of bad news indeed. On the pub front, perhaps food sales are increasing which will take some of the 49% shortfall. Whatever, the smoking ban (I think) has popular support (sorry, I haven’t the wit to find the latest polls on the subject).

  30. Mike Richardson,

    From the BBC,,,

    “The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) says total beer sales for 2007 are down 22% – some seven million pints a day fewer than their peak in 1979.

    Since then there has been a 49% drop in pub sales, which has been partly offset by an increase in purchases from shops.”

    Are you suggesting that Pubs have been losing beer sales since 1997 because of the smoking ban in June?

    As to Ian Smith, aparthied was wrong pure and simple. That Zimbabwe has gone in to decline since doesn’t change that. Iraq has gone backwards since Saddam was in power but that doesn’t mean we should mourn him.


  31. Sorry Mike R
    Yes, it will be interesting to see what effect the current difficulties have on polling.
    The public impact of any Govt problems can often depend on the personal impact rather than the overall effect.
    Black Wednesday didn’t cost as much as is often thought [£3.3 billion], the decisions taken after set the seeds for years of stability but the oppositon was able to capitalise on a decision they supported, because the public had a sick feeling in their stomach which they couldn’t forget.

    It is possible that the loss of personal details will have less real consequences than Northern Rock but I suspect it is the feeling of vulnerability with the former that will resonate.
    I expect Labour support to drop off in the next round of polls. I expect the LibDems to recover abit. They have had publicity [even if it has not all been good] and there will always be some Labour support that cannot bring itself to nvote Tory.

  32. Peter there is no doubt that pubs are have been losing trade hand over fist since the smoking ban was introduced in June . I go into pubs twice a week to play bar billiards and the number of customers is clearly much lower than pre ban and people are staying for a shorter period of time then going home to watch the foottie in front of the telly with cans of beer and able to smoke in peace . I am sure that trade is still fine in the pub/restaurants and city centre so called pubs but the death knell is sounding for the traditional pub .
    Yes the smoking ban has majority support largely of course from people who never use a pub in the first place or have sunday lunch once every few months .

  33. A change of topic but has anyone else noticed how poorly Clegg has been performing in his head to head debates with Huhne? It’s not just a matter of Huhne being the bully boy (which he is). The worry for Clegg is that he comes across as very woolly on the detail and I’m not sure that he actually knows what he is talking about. If this continues, don’t assume (as I did originally) that Clegg will win. Sure, he looks and sounds like Cameron but he does not have Cameron’s background in PR and comes across, simply, as a nice chap. If I were a LibDem voter I would seriously start to think about whether Huhne might be the better candidate. On the evidence I have seen thus far, both Brown and Cameron will make mincemeat out of Clegg.

  34. Philip

    I understand that it’s a global phenemenon.
    The numbers in respect of UK are what interest me though .They have clear implications for government policy across the board. Cameron was absolutely right in my view to adress the subject in terms of “demographic change”.I have no doubt that in doing so he has increased his popularity in the Polls.

    Some of this change is beneficial-some is not.Some of it may be unavoidable, some is certainly manageable.The more one understands about it’s elements for UK, the more one can seek to manage those elements for which management is deemed appropriate.
    Failure to do this is in my view an abrogation of responsibility.
    I am not “looking for an answer” !!!
    I am looking for facts and trends-including the views of individuals where relevant. These are obtainable on a sensible basis. I profoundly disagree with your second paragraph, which I find patronising & detached.
    I fail to understand the relevance of trends in global international holidays to trends in UK migration.

    ref your observation about “vulnerability” after the HMRC fiasco-On Newsnight last evening, an IT academic ( can’t remember who) claimed two things:-
    1) The Governmen’ts policy of building super large data bases containing citizens’ personal details in itself constitutes a security risk. He cited both the missing Child Benefit data base and also the proposed NHS medical records data base. The latter would be accessible to hundreds of thousands of medical staff and administrators.
    2) His Department had on more than one occassion sent cautionary studies to HMG on these proposals-all of them binned he said.

    If this is true then it may blow a hole in Darling’s assertion that the HMRC cock-up was “proceedural” ( ie the fault of officials) rather than “policy” ( ie the fault of Ministers.)

    I wonder if the opposition parties will pick this up.And rightly or wrongly it must surely reduce confidence in the security of the proposed ID card data base.

  35. Mark
    The decline has accelerated – I have the same experience as you and regret a number of pubs having converted to gastropubs in my locale; however my smoking mates actually approve of the ban and nip outside for theirs. Ten years ago an England “decider” would guarantee a full pub, but not tonight – the decline started a long time before the ban.

    The Tories’ “nanny state” arguments do have an impact, but I’d be wary of picking this particular issue, not least because smokers recognise the health benefits of cleaner air.

  36. Arnie
    I agree.
    I had thought from the outset that their best strategy was going for the disenchanted left in the New Labour vote.Huhne seemed to be the best way to do that.
    Having heard Clegg’s incoherant stutterings I feel sure you are right.

  37. Colin

    I’m not sure it’s a matter or targeting Labour or Tory votes, it’s more a matter of targeting any votes. If Clegg really is as lame as he appears yet becomes leader, the LibDems may not recover at all leaving the two main parties to fight it out over 75% of the national vote. A viable third party would take votes from whichever of the main parties is weakest at an election.

    While Huhne has been touted as the leftist candidate, he is in reality pretty much centrist certainly more so than Ming Campbell ever was. The Libs simply need a leader who is able to grab some media focus and speak in a convincing and appealing way. Such a leader would challenge both of the main parties who are sat on the same patch of centre ground when it comes to tax and spending and playing tough on crime and security. There is a vacancy for a truly liberal voice and that is where I think the Libs should position themselves.

    I happen to think that there are more Tory votes to be recovered than Labour votes simply because the Libs maxed out at the last election when it came to taking Labour votes because of Iraq. That said, the Libs would be wise not to overcomplicate their strategy. They simply need to be cogent and coherent enough such that voters who do not really like Brown or Cameron have a serious receptacle for their votes. At the moment such voters will probably not bother voting.

  38. It is not patronising to say that polls are simplistic, it is a well-known problem with polls that has been brought up here before every time that an immigration poll is released. You end up with half a dozen seemingly contradictory responses by the public, because it is a very complex issue and polls as useful as they may be rely on simple answers.

    If you were to ask someone in a poll why they chose to leave the country it would be put down as a one word answer: Weather, joining family, job, schools etc . . . if you were to ask a friend of family member who was doing so why, you could talk all day about it. to say so isn’t patronising.

    I agree with you that government needs to view demographic change as something it needs to deal with, planning for and around. But we shouldn’t look at either immigration or emigration as a bad thing per se.

    As for the relevance of international holidays, it is relevant. We live in a global village now, people travel, people move. Its easier than it ever has been so more people do it.

    PS I have both emigrated to Australia, lived there as a UK ex-pat and then returned back to the UK.


    Agreed completely with Colin and Arnie on Clegg/Huhne. Clegg appears to be trying to be a weak version of Cameron – that will just reinforce the appearance of the Lib Dems as a weak party and won’t tempt any Conservatives. Huhne appears to be the more genuine and confident of the two and I think could appeal to a soft section of the electorate.

  39. I really do not think that the Libs maxed their potential Lab votes at the last election due to Iraq. Yes Iraq was unpopular on the left, but Labour was still in election-winning form.

    If Labour does lose the next election, which is odds-on now, there is no reason to assume that the Lib Dems can’t do better against them than they did last time, even without Iraq. Doesn’t mean they will, but they could.

  40. William Hill has both Labour and Conservative odds-on to win at 5/6. (It doesn’t give odds for “Labour to Lose”!)

  41. Philip:-
    ” But we shouldn’t look at either immigration or emigration as a bad thing per se.”

    No of course-any more than that they should be regarded as a good thing per se.

  42. John T: That would be to win most seats, not win an overall majority. So even that includes Labour losing its majority, which it obviously didn’t do last time.

    Betfair has odds of Labour winning a majority of 3.5, that’s I believe 5/2 in old terms. Odds of winning most seats is 2.14.

  43. Philip – i agree that if Labour lose their majority, they will have “lost”. I don’t understand betting exchanges very well, but I think, like PoliticalBetting, they seek to make trading books on to-day’s standings, rather than the more straightforward bookies’ prediction of what might happen at the next election, which is in their view too close to call.

    In contrast to some of the triumphalism that Cameron’s performances has generated, it’s something of a reality check to see that the bookies aren’t sticking their necks out very far. at this early stage.

  44. I think Brown might consider a hung parliament a loss.

    They will have certainly lost relative to their 2005 election result, which is my point. Why if Labour is predicted to do worse than it did in 2005, was 2005 a high-watermark for the Lib-Dems due to Iraq?

    Labour have 156 more MPs than the Conservatives; Under a straight swap solely from Lab -> Tory, Labour could lose 77 MPs to Conservatives and still have a plurality (winning under your figures). So when your bookies are saying its even that they’ll do worse than this, and even that they’ll do this bad or better, why can not the Lib-Dems not gain any traction?

    As for a “reality check”, lets not forget that when Cameron was elected the notion of the Conservatives actually winning the next election was completely discounted. The amount needed to gain is an absolute mountain, the fact the bookies put it even that there’ll be this much of a transformation already is pretty impressive.

  45. Philip – ICM did a poll in 2006 that asked people if they’d ever consider emigrating and, if so, why – my commentary on it here here.

  46. John T

    You are right to caution any Conservative against triumphalism. Cameron’s team still has much hard & repetitive work to do in establishing their credentials as an alternative government, with cynical & disengaged voters.

    It has to be said though that Brown’s administration is helping their efforts to do so at present.

  47. A reduced majority for Labour in 2010 could well result in a further full 5 years, and i think Brown would count that a victory, however weakened he might be by a reduction to challengeable levels. He would I’m sure see a hung parliament as a defeat.

    I’m pleased there’s a real opposition now, eventhough I’m yet to be “won back” to the Conservatives. There’s certainly more chance now that they have a leader who initially moved to the centre on the “free at the point of need” NHS, and appears to be much closer to Labour than Howard on education and environmental issues.

    His ability to keep the right-wingers “on-side” is outstanding. To do so without alienating the pro-Europeans has defeated a few Tory leaders in the past.

  48. Colin –
    If it was any worse, I’d suspect Brown of deliberately engineering a slump in popularity in anticipation that things “could only get better” for him!

    Anthony – I can’t help referring to the effect of your post on ICM’s emigration poll – only three responses then!

  49. Anthony:-

    “Philip – ICM did a poll in 2006 that asked people if they’d ever consider emigrating and, if so, why – my commentary on it here”

    New Statesman, in an article of Aug.2004 refers to Polls by YouGov and Centre for Future Studies on emigration.
    I can’t find either of them though.

  50. Okay Mark so you predicting that by next May the Lib Dems will be back where they were last May. To take the four main polling organisations only let’s look at what each said last May and what they are saying now.
    Poll % Last May Now plus/minus
    You Gov 15 13 -2
    MORI 19 13 -6
    Populus 17 16 -1
    ICM 20 15 -5
    Hum quite a spread there but whilst Mark you should be right in terms of the Lib Dems improving on their current Populus and You Gov ratings-how can they fail- getting back up to
    19/20 % in the others represents a considerable challenge and one which I for one believe is quite beyond them but we shall see!!!!

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