Is there a seven-year rule in politics?

It’s said that breaking a mirror is seven years bad luck (or bad something else, in one’s personal life, depending who you ask). So here’s a pattern that fascinates me. Everyone remembers the Lib Dem collapse in the aftermath of the 2010 election. But not everyone remembers that many of the voters Nick Clegg lost to Labour had actually supported Labour in the past, having defected to the Lib Dems over the Iraq war in 2003.

In just seven years a chunk of the liberal left had gone full circle, and although there were fewer of them than pollsters had thought, they still single-handedly increased Labour’s share of the popular vote in 2015.

Of course 2010 is itself now seven years ago, and post-coalition (and certainly post-Brexit vote) many feel the tide is turning yet again. Of course the “seven year” thing is a coincidence, one-and-a-bit terms could be 6 years or it could be 8 years, but the point is that it takes time to detoxify, and it may be that for the Lib Dems enough time has passed.

So it was very interesting to hear the latest Polling Matters show with Leo Barasi and Mark Pack talking through the Lib Dem fundamentals, some of which seem pretty strong relative to the topline numbers. The Manchester Gorton by-election will certainly be worth watching…

There are two local by-elections today, a Labour defence in a messy-looking Middlesborough ward with partial slates and a sizeable independent vote, and a safe-looking Tory defence in West Dorset.

Enjoy the long weekend!

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