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In data: local elections vs Westminster

What do the local elections tell us—if anything—about our national politics?

By Tom Clark   June 2021

A cracked crystal ball

The council contests immediately before the last three general elections were hopeless predictors: a small lead for Labour in 2014 swung into reverse in 2015; Theresa May’s double-digit edge in May 2017 shrunk to 2 points that June; and while Labour held the Tories level in May 2019, Boris Johnson romped home in December.

Local leaders

But over the decades, one clear pattern emerges: opposition parties on the path to power have steamed ahead by mid-term. From 1979 we have National Equivalent Vote shares, which suggest only leads…

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