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Do local elections tell us which party will win the next general election?

No—their true significance lies elsewhere

By Tom Quinn  

It is widely assumed by politicians and pundits alike that local elections are less about rubbish collection and street lights, than they are about national politics. Local polls offer voters the chance to pass judgment on national governments, and it is often a negative appraisal—hence the lament of “mid-term blues” by ministers in television studios on election night. There is indeed a lot to be said for the claim that national politics predominates. In the 1990s, the Conservatives withered away in local government as John Major’s unpopular administration governed in…

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