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All about numbers

As the Conservative Party gathers for its annual conference, how can it avoid a seven-year itch when it comes to higher education?

The number seven has many special properties. There are seven days of the week, seven colours of the rainbow, seven notes in a musical scale, seven ages of man, seven continents and seven seas. In 2014, a journalist asked people to pick their favourite number, and 44,000 votes later, the number seven topped the poll (with 110, sadly, deemed the least popular).

I have been thinking about this because it is seven years since the Conservatives returned to office. That makes it a risky political moment. Seven years in, it is too late to lay the blame for all the country’s problems convincingly at the door of the previous administration. It also tends to be around the time when governments start cementing their legacy or loosening their grip on power.

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