Last week I wrote about the unusual YouGov poll showing a four point Conservative lead and said I personally thought it was more likely to be statistical noise than the first sign of the Conservatives opening up a lead in voting intention.

However, at the weekend we also had a new poll from Opinium that had topline figures of CON 42%(+2), LAB 39%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1). Fieldwork was Tues-Thursday and changes were from mid-January (tabs). This morning’s Independent reported partial figures from a new BMG poll that apparently had Labour and Conservative equal on 40% each – this would be an increase of three points in the level of Tory support since the last BMG poll in December.

The government have done little to endear themselves to the public in the last few weeks, nor have Labour done much to lose support. There is no obvious reason for movement in the polls, so I’m still a little sceptical (in themselves the changes are within the margin of error, and it’s perfectly possible for random chance to spit out a couple of polls that just happen to show movement in the same direction). Nevertheless, it’s possible we’re seeing some movement in the government’s direction. If we are, what should we make of it?

This far from the next timetabled general election voting intention polls have very little predictive value, all the more so when we have a known unknown as large as Brexit looming ahead of us and at least a fair chance of a change of Conservative leader before the next election. However for better or worse, mid-term voting intention is the barometer that we tend to use to measure how well the government and opposition are doing against each other, and that is reflected in the morale of the political parties and media perceptions of how well or badly they are doing. If it turns out to be genuine it may bolster Theresa May’s position a little, and may put Labour on the back foot, but we shall see.


536 Responses to “Latest Opinium & BMG polls”

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  1. DANNY

    :-)

    You are a hoot !

  2. We finally stand up to “bullying” and EC back-off:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43062112

    “EU diplomats have removed a so-called “punishment clause”

    Turn of the tide hopefully? EU25 states and businesses finally waking up and putting pressure of the EU2/EC?

    Love him or loath him, SMogg is playing a useful role in ensuring UK gets the best deal.

  3. Danny’s contention isn’t really a conspiracy theory from out of the left field is it.

    Its just saying that remainders in the party, and business interests fund it might not like a hard brexit, but to keep the hard Brexiters happy they’re going to try and make it appear different.

    Corbyn’s stance can be similarly criticised. This is the stuff of politics. Tories giving the impression of no NHS reorganisation when actually… LDs giving the impression they are anti-Austerity etc., Lab being supposedly pro-welfare but then introducing ATOS etc.

  4. @ Carfew

    Just read that Elon Musk is an Iain M Banks fan, naming drons after “Culture” ships. that a manned Falcon 9 mission (Dragon Module) is due for launch later this year with NASA astronauts. Wonder what the Dragon module will be named? The Ends Of Invention or perhaps Congenital Optimist?

  5. @ CARFREW – May has to remember its the electorate that really matter.

    Business lobby groups have Janus heads and privately asking for their preferred regulation cuts from hard Brexit while publicly demanding they can keep profit margins high with free access to UK consumer (a lot of these lobby groups (eg SMMT) are most interested in keeping foreign shareholders happy and putting non-UK jobs first). Cake+eat it is popular with capitalist cabals (Corbyn’s view on EU)!

    However, with the slim majority in HoC, May does need to get out ‘selling’ Brexit to the electorate and to do that she needs to be getting on with Project After – people want action not Boris speeches. The crazy idea of staying in THE CU but without services agreement should be an easy argument to make, yet somehow Best for Brussels have got that back into the debate!?!

  6. @Trevor W

    Well, they aren’t the only thing that matter. The electorate can wreck her prospects, as can business, rebellious MPs, press, and more besides no doubt.

    Hence the juggling and dancing on the heads of pins etc…. Corbyn has a similar problem of course.

  7. @WB

    Ah, You have me at a disadvantage, as I am way down on where I should be in terms of my Scifi and generally futurist reading. (I have vague recollections of the Wasp Factory from back in the day…)

  8. @ Carfrew

    Ah! May I recommend the Culture novels to you and everyone else , superbly written with a glorious use of language and imagery which lights up the imagination.
    My second favourite author (regular readers of my posts will no doubt be able to guess my favourite). Although set in a futuristic sci-fi environment Banks is brilliant at making all of that seem quite prosaic whilst making the characters and their emotions and motivations jump from the page, (the occasional whiff of humour is not bad either).

  9. @TrevorWarne:

    Sadly, you have the dynamic wrong.

    Some EU countries thought that no country could accept those terms. That is why Barnier is regrouping. There are lots of countries which assume that such demands would lead to a reaction amongst any self-respecting country.

    Barnier knows that there will be no such reaction from his friends in the Commons, but he can hardly say that to EU ambassadors as it would be embarrassing.

    The DUP worried them. But now they are asking to formalise what was meant to be the reserve position if border discussions failed to produce a solution. Now they needn’t worry about discussing alternatives.

    I’m afraid we are being steered to a point where surrender will be better than the deal on offer. And the Commons won’t allow walking away, and will have ensured that there are no preparations.

  10. Agree about Ian M Banks and the Culture series, excellent reading. A he has sadly gone now I did find Neal Asher and the Polity novels useful to fill the void, or atleast partly anyway. Set in a similar type of scenario with AI’s running things, they are well written and thought provoking as well as being page turners

  11. @ CARFREW – May’s plan can and should address all ‘stakeholders’ at the same time.

    – Business: Plan A becomes a “take-it or leave it” in her speech. Plan B and actual implementation (policies to ensure business stay/expand/move to UK) ready to launch immediately (possible leak some before, etc). Action speaks louder than words.
    – MPs: make a decision. Risk losing Soubs and dragging Corbyn of the fence. If it comes to a confidence vote I expect she would win (DUP might abstain in some scenarios). Risky but she was always going to have to make this decision and time is up.
    – Press: Leave and Remain press, social media, etc have mostly made their camps. The few modestly balanced outlets need to see action and a convincing argument
    – Electorate: although no GE in sight they can not be taken for granted. This NHS bus issue refuses to go away so although we haven’t left yet turn the VI there (morally and politically important). Balancing the deficit can wait (as it always does).

    All these ‘stakeholders’ interact to some extent (e.g. Soubs or other rebels will back down if action leads to +ve press leads to +ve polls, etc).

    The one thing to come from Boris’s speech was Juncker’s reaction. Clearly there is some merit in modestly pushing that advantage. If the EC have over played their hand then May needs to deploy both olive branch and boxing glove in her speech. I expect it will draw heavily on Lancaster House but hopefully seek a more ‘wounded animal’ approach: “we want to stay friends, we want a deep and special relationship, etc” but with the final minute and Q+A (if there is one) focussing on “If the EC (and make sure it is clear it is the EC) do not want a deep and special relationship that gives friction free access to UK market, then we need to use the remaining time to plan for a WTO relationship and will only pay the minimum divorce bill”.

    Juncker might have given May just the opening she needs to turn the tide in the negotiations – let’s hope she doesn’t miss the opportunity or procrastinate any longer.

  12. @Trevor Warne – “@ ALEC – again you put all Leavers in one stereotype.”

    No – completely incorrect. My comment was addressed to you, exclusively.

    To reiterate, the point was that there was a time when you posted long, engaged posts telling us why WTO terms would be fine. Now you seem to suggest that this is a bad outcome.

    Your individual shift has been noted. That’s all.

    Also this – “We finally stand up to “bullying” and EC back-off:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43062112

    “EU diplomats have removed a so-called “punishment clause””

    Again, it’s unclear if you’ve actually read the link, as the third line states – “But officials have now promised new wording that makes reference to the EU’s standard infringement procedures.”

    In other words, the UK is subject to legal action via the ECJ if we break the rules during the transition.

    This would greatly upset Rees Mogg, and is no sign whatsoever of the EU backing down. All they’ve done is removed a clause that was worded in a way that allowed the Daily Mail to froth a little bit, and replaced it with something the DM hasn’t yet understood. The EU have probably sorted out a fast track ECJ ruling mechanism to ensure they get their required protections should the UK renege on anything, and nothing material will have changed.

  13. https://twitter.com/britainelects/status/964104571797884928

    What do you think Jim Jam-rule of three met?

  14. trevor warne,
    “We finally stand up to “bullying” and EC back-off:”

    the article you link says that instead the Uk will be subject to the normal sanctions applied by the EU to any member which dails to comply with EU rules. Not exactly backing off. Really, its a tight interpretation of their stated policy that all rules will apply exactly as if the Uk had not left.

    “Most Leavers:
    – WTO will be good in medium/long-term, a comprehensive FTA would be better, BINO would be a disaster”

    Hmm. last polling I saw said that hard brexit was very unpopular. Something like 70% of the population against. So assuming all those ‘for’ are leavers (which might not be true, there could be remainers who would nonetheless be happy with WTO but have other reasons to remain), that still leaves 40% of leavers opposing hard brexit. Yes, that would make your statement accurate, but it would only leave 30% of the total voters in favour of hard brexit, 50% against any form of brexit, and not quite clear how many favouring soft Brexit. Might be as little as the other 20%.

    I have mentioned this before, that the leave vote is not necessarily transferrable between leave options, and might take the same stance as outlined by Boris, that remain is better than soft Brexit. Looked at this way, one can see why tories might have decided to try another charm offensive.

    They alrady asked voters if a hard brexit was acceptible, and got the answer ‘no’. Now they need to ask if a soft brexit is acceptible either.

  15. Danny

    The idea that the government “asked” the electorate a single, clear question, which they then all both understood and answered to directly, is just silly.

    I doubt if Teresa May knew what question she was asking.

  16. Crofty,
    “I doubt if Teresa May knew what question she was asking.”

    if so, i dont understand why she spent so much time talking about the need for a hard brexit and that the tories would deliver it. Do people have such short memories? Was the answer not sufficiently clear that tories want to pretend it was not asked? if so, it would be a bit of a double standard.

  17. @WB “Ah! May I recommend the Culture novels to you and everyone else , superbly written with a glorious use of language and imagery which lights up the imagination.”

    Have you had a chance to delve into Jack Vance? His descriptive use of language, the cutting, hilarious dialogue and the marvellous worlds he conjures are wonderful. I’m sure Banks was influenced in part by him. Certainly the likes of Ursula Le Guin was who used to write Vance fan letters.

    Clark Ashton Smith who influenced Vance is also a true delight. The descriptive prose and the eerie settings are simply superb.

  18. @ Sea Change certainly willing to give these a try (I had a Waterstones voucher card for Christmas and haven’t used it all up yet)

  19. @WB

    Thanks muchly for the recommendations! I shall deffo check them out. Sounds like Banks is more along the lines of the likes of Ballard, where the writing comes first, as opposed to the scifi that is more driven by the scientific possibilities.

  20. @Sea Change

    Was reading le Guin’s obit recently and realised that’s someone else I should have checked out. Vance and Ashton Smith also added to list. Good Spot.

  21. Wile we are recommending books might I just mention for anyone who likes Tolkien etc. that Patrick Rothfuss and the Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear are superb.

  22. While not Wile (my typing is as bad as ever)

  23. Gordon

    :-)

    Great point! Any of the nutters from NI that did come over would just die off more quickly, so we wouldn’t suffer too much and NI would greatly benefit.

    Colin

    Since I wasn’t even in the stadium, much less on the park, when you aimed that punch, you don’t demonstrate much in the way of sporting behaviour.

    A couple of hours football practice after church every Sunday might hone your skills.

  24. @Trevor W.

    Having reflected on your plan over a Macchiato or two, one is forced to reach the conclusion that it isn’t really a “plan” in the conventional sense of the word.

    I mean, certainly you have expectations of the stakeholders. Business has to like it or lump it, MPs have to to ‘make a decision’, the press are ignored as being beyond reach. The electorate “cannot be ignored”, but you don’t really have a plan there either other than maybe summat on the NHS.

    It would certainly be a convenience it it was this straightforward…

  25. RTE report on the collapse of talks between SF and DUP is useful.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2018/0214/940744-northern-ireland-politics/

    Their full report is available in the 3rd clip on the page.

    Of most interest may be the last section from their NI Editor Tommie Gorman.

    In essence, the deal was torpedoed by the new dominant power group in the DUP – their 10 MPs refused to agree with the accommodation that SF and DUP negotiators had reached.

  26. Amazing reading some of the posts on Brexit which continue ad nauseum here. Most reflect a World view that bares no relation to the real World I live in.

    Weather very pleasant this morning, good walking weather provided you wrap up well.

  27. There’s some pro-Brexit folks on Twitter getting all excited about the LDems ‘dropping from 9% to 8%’ supposedly as a result of the electorate rejecting their pro-Remain stance.

    If you look at the detailed tables they have gone from 8.6% to…….8.4%.
    Well worth getting excited about…

    Being serious, it did make me appreciate once more the generally higher quality of analysis to be found here on UKPR…

    Unlike the other three polls that showed a trend of more Labour moving to DK, this one had DK’s diminishing but still showed the Tories building a lead. It was also an outlier in showing the LDems standing still rather than gaining.

    However overall I do think there has been a genuine move in the polls away from Labour and toward the Tories. I’m just not sure why…

  28. From Britain Elects:

    Westminster voting intention:
    CON: 40% (+3)
    LAB: 40% (-)
    LDEM: 8% (-1)
    UKIP: 5% (-)
    GRN: 4% (+1)

    via @BMGResearch, 06 – 09 Feb Chgs w/ Dec 2017

  29. I wonder what effect the revelations about Comrade Cob will have, if any?

  30. BFR

    “May did what was expected of her and needed by the situation, she conducted an election as a referendum on hard Brexit, and the answer was ‘no’.”

    I think a small majority want a real Brexit delivered and think the Tories the only party who can deliver it. Just IMO of course.

  31. BFR

    Sorry disregard my last post, something weird happened.

    “However overall I do think there has been a genuine move in the polls away from Labour and toward the Tories. I’m just not sure why…”

    I think a small majority want a real Brexit delivered and think the Tories the only party who can deliver it. Just IMO of course.

  32. @peteb

    Well, I remember on here in the GE campaign confident predictions from the usual suspects about the effect that newspaper revelations about Corbyn’s past would have on the Labour vote etc. So if anything I would expect these latest “revelations” – which almost dignifies them as something significant – will have no impact whatsoever. You would think the Tory press would have learnt its lesson by now.

  33. Sea Change; I tried reading Tales of a Dying Earth under the Fantasy Masterworks label years ago, but couldn’t get into it. That branch of the genre (Moorcock etc) now seems a bit dated to me, with lots of things just happening to a character that we are a bit ambivalent about. Have you read any Roger Zelazny though? Utterly weird and wonderful.

    WB; I’ve been waiting for Rofuss to actually finish his dam trilogy before diving in, but have heard good things. Never again will I be stranded mid-series like a certain GRR Martin has left me! Speaking of GRRM, his career-best short story collection (Dream Songs) has some truly fabulous sci-fi, fantasy and everything in between in it.

    I’d also recommend Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series (almost back to basics fantasy), Paulo Bacigaulpi (Sci-fi eco-thrillers in the very near future) and Heros Die by Matthew Stover (v. violent, utterly insane, utterly brilliant fun).

  34. Blimey bit of a quibble fest today.

    @ VARIOUS: ‘new wording’ =/= ‘remove’? OK, fine, go with ‘new wording’ and that EC decided that due exclusively to pressure from EU nations.

    @ ALEC – OK, I’ll rephrase ‘crash out to WTO’ as ‘crash out to UFT version of WTO’ and make clear that is very different to min.deal (‘phased transition (or using the time still available until Mar’19) to move to a reciprocal WTO’). Crashing out to UFT is IMHO bad but not the worst outcome. Min.deal with time to implement reciprocal WTO is perfectly fine, possibly the best outcome IMHO, but will need HMG to manage the larger challenges and capture the greater opportunities. As time drifts on (ie sleepwalking) the time available issue increases the ‘crash out to UFT version of WTO’ risk where as IMHO we’d have been better moving to min.deal up back in Oct. Kapiche?

    @ CARFREW – I did not say ‘Like it or lump it’ for business, I said ‘take it or leave it’ to EU. For business they have things they like in Plan B and things they like in Plan A and obviously not all business want the same from both plans. If Plan A isn’t working then ensure they get enough Plan B to ensure they stay/expand/move to UK – aka “affect the weather”. Manage the sector and regional challenges and max on the opportunities. Business #1 priority is clarity in the final destination. Transition kicks the can down the road but will not increase investment.

    and yes MPs (and especially the PM) do need to make decisions. That is why we elect them!

    @ DANNY – For polling, the wording issue always crops up but YouGov asked a question that was broadly:
    WTO: 49%
    BINO: 13%
    DK: 38%
    https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/1ac810a5-0a5f-11e8-86d8-79543c6f082c

    Ignoring DKs that is 79% that would prefer WTO to BINO or net +58%. Vassal state is not popular which is why I have no issue with a new ref on the terms if HoC becomes gridlocked (ie if Corbyn is forced into BINO and Soubs gets a few others to attempt to bring HMG down, DUP abstain, etc – I’ve posted the maths required multiple times)

    Please post the polling info that supports your claim.

  35. YouGov WTO v BINO x-breaks:

    CON

    WTO 67
    BINO 7
    DK 26

    That’s +60 prefer WTO (or 90% with DK removed). Interestingly every single partisan VI, region and age group also preferred WTO to BINO. Of some note 18-24y olds had 58% as DK – maybe they didn’t understand the question?

    Anyone still think May is going to do a U-turn on leaving CU? Corbyn?

    How about a polling question that is similar but adds in “we’d only pay the legal minimum” to WTO and adds in “we’d pay at least 30bn more than we have to” to BINO?

    How might that affect the polling results?

  36. Another recent YouGov Brexit poll:
    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/th95lxud0x/YGC%20Northern%20Ireland%20&%20Brexit%20Feb%2018.pdf

    The first section is simply prioritising the cakes to eat so doesn’t give much insight to the choices on offer but the NI issue is highlighted as a low priority (lowest on the list).

    Even more curious is that hardly anyone (just 17%) actually know that NI does more trade with rUK than RoI (CON x-break highest at 25%). I wonder if people knew the facts on NI trade whether the priority of NI border would be even lower? I’ve previously made the case that DUP would be OK with hard border provided they could blame everyone but themselves before. Obviously I don’t want that outcome but we can’t have cake+eat it.

  37. BIGFATRON
    “There’s some pro-Brexit folks on Twitter getting all excited about the LDems ‘dropping from 9% to 8%’ supposedly as a result of the electorate rejecting their pro-Remain stance.
    If you look at the detailed tables they have gone from 8.6% to…….8.4%.
    Well worth getting excited about…”

    I recall an article in either the Mail or Express many years ago that was headlined something along the lines of “Violence in Schools Doubles!”. It turned out that the percentage of schools reporting serious violence rose from 1.4% to 1.6% which the paper rounded to 1% and 2% without mentioning any figures in the article.

  38. @ToH
    No worries – we’ve all done it…

    @TW
    So we have two youGov polls that show contradictory results:
    – one says that being able to enter into trade agreements freely with the rest of the world is far more important that easy access to the EU
    – the other one says that being able to enter into trade agreements freely with the rest of the world and easy access to the EU at equally important (38% each putting tem as the top requirement of a new arrangement)

    Previous polls have shown the soft Brexit option (BINO in your notation) to be the most popular – more so than either scrapping the whole Brexit thing or ‘hard Brexit – so I think what we have proved is that regular voters (and that includes me) are generally confused by the whole damn thing…

  39. @Trevor

    ” – I did not say ‘Like it or lump it’ for business, I said ‘take it or leave it’ to EU.”

    ——–

    Oh really. Well it came under your heading “business” and you didn’t mention the EU.

    Your rather vague addendum seems to consist of doing various things business might like, but these remain unspecified.

    It’s as if your cure for cancer was “do things that will stop cancer” and letting the matter rest.

    And telling MPs to “make a decision” does not solve the problem. Major tried that, they were out for over a decade after.

    Just disregarding the press, isn’t much of a plan either. Never mind the lack of a plan for the electorate, esp. If shifting to Remain…

  40. Helen Lewis in the New Statesman pretty much summarises my own thoughts here

    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/02/both-left-and-right-i-ve-never-despaired-more-british-politicians

  41. That NS article even has an allotment reference…

  42. COLIN

    https://twitter.com/britainelects/status/964104571797884928

    What do you think Jim Jam-rule of three met?

    Well it may already have been taken into account given that Anthony writes above:

    This morning’s Independent reported partial figures from a new BMG poll that apparently had Labour and Conservative equal on 40% each – this would be an increase of three points in the level of Tory support since the last BMG poll in December

    Though the actual article from BMG (including link to Excel tables) wasn’t published till yesterday:

    http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/bmg-independent-conservatives-labour-neck-neck-latest-voting-intention-poll/

    Although the changes they give are from December the accompanying graph shows January figures as well, which were closer than Dec (Con 40%, Lab 41%, LD 8%, UKIP 4%, Other 7%).

    The underlying pattern seems similar to what we’ve seen in other polls with most of the reduction in Labour’s lead coming from a drop in support rather than a switch of their voters to Con. Though it’s difficult to tell exactly as BMG don’t show LTV or Will not vote figures. There’s possibly also an increase in Conservative enthusiasm.

    There could be a shift in sentiment, but it’s more likely to be the result of decreased interest in politics, which tends to hit oppositions harder than governments and can quickly be reversed if that hypothetical election was actually called.

  43. Alec

    Re NI and the Irish Language Act

    Now that the talks have collapsed, we’re beginning to get detail on what the agreed accommodation between SF and DUP included.

    “Sinn Féin says draft included Irish act, Ulster Scots act and respecting language & diversity act” (RTE)

    https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/964185142221828096

    That does suggest that the motivation for collapsing the talks was the refusal of the 10 MPs to accept any compromise (“No Surrender” was the cry) since apparently DUP MLAs weren’t even given sight of the proposals.

  44. Irish Language Act,

    It’s sad that this is a political football. I am in principle in favour of government activism to preserve and promote minority languages, whatever the politics of those who speak them. However I do see what a totem this has become for some Unionists. It would amuse me to see the UK reintroduce direct rule of NI and then introduce their won Irish Language Act, but I guess the current parliamentary politics rule this out.

    New BMG poll,

    I think we’re probably past the point now of being uncertain about whether the slight recovery in the Tories’ polling is real or not. People seem surprised by it. I suspect that is a bit of a bubble thing around Brexit Wars. Most people just want to thing sorted out and the “Big Stories” about Brexit don’t really register with them other than it being “people still banging on about Brexit”. Every time I see a link to another report in some small circulation magazine or political blog about how bad Brexit will be, I wonder how many people outside UKPR will have actually read it (even, perhaps how many inside UKPR..)

    So, to the public, the news seems pretty quiet. Nothing major to report. Everything trundling along adequately. Those conditions normally favour the government.

    Book Recommendations

    For those that like the Culture novels, I’d also recommend the “Nights Dawn” books by Peter F Hamilton. A little anglo-centric in his view of the far future, perhaps, and a smidge sexist in his portrayal of some of his female characters, but a great imagination and I found them gripping. There is also a stand alone book by Hamilton called “Fallen Dragon” which is also a great piece of work. It has a more philosophical bent, looking at the morality of capitalism.

  45. their own Irish Language Act not their won.

  46. ROGER MEXICO

    Thanks

    My fault-just dipping in briefly without reading the Thread article-yep -already covered.

  47. Neil A

    “I guess the current parliamentary politics rule this out.”

    Not necessarily. Direct rule doesn’t involve legislation for NI being passed by the Westminster Parliament. It’s handled through Orders in (or of) Council [1]

    DUP MPs (other than Sammy Wilson) would, therefore, have no voice in such a decision.

    Would the Privy Council passing an Irish Language Act, an Ulster-Scots Language Act, and a Language & Diversity Act cause the enthusiastic Brexiteers in the DUP to withdraw support from the Tories? It might be unwise to assume that that would be the case.

    [1] I’m never sure of the archaic complexities of these alternate methodologies

  48. RTE reports that relations between SF and DUP had improved in the course of discussions and sufficient agreement had been reached to reach the point of drafting an agreement. At that stage it seems that some of the DUP MPs objected to what was being proposed. Whether this is something that can be fixed we may know soon. We know, anyway, that Brexit has destabilised NI politics

  49. The Florida shooter turns out to be a member of a white supremacist group.

    While my personal opinion is that that defines him as being mentally unstable, “terrorist” would also be a reasonable description.

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