As Nigel Farage refers to the election results today as remarkable, do they mean that much going into 2015?
Lewis Baston, senior research fellow at Democratic Audit says yes:
The main point of local elections is to choose who runs the local council. But most voters use them as a chance to pass a verdict on national politics, which is why they are so important. In 1983 and 1987, the late Baroness Thatcher had a look at local elections before deciding to call a general election, and on both occasions they correctly indicated that the Tories were doing well. In 2013, most of the attention has been on Ukip’s performance – in votes and seats – because of disaffection with the main parties. But the elections also show how Labour is doing in some of its more difficult target seats in the south, such as Harlow and Dover, and how the battle in the south-west between the Conservatives and LibDems is panning out. The votes cast contain some important clues as to what the general election results in 2015 might look like.
Darren Hughes, director of campaigns and research at the Electoral Reform Society says no:
Local democracy should matter. Evidence shows that the services we most care about are delivered locally. So why do most eligible voters sit at home? It could be about power; debates over bin collections never fire the imagination like the questions surrounding central government. But many people don’t see their votes making a difference in how their communities are run. Local elections are no longer a reliable gauge of public opinion. Our Victorian voting system was never designed to cope with three party politics – let alone four – and it means the public often don’t get the councils they voted for. A Ukip surge letting in Labour? Labour gains against the Liberal Democrats letting in the Tories? We’ve seen it all before, and we will see it again. It’s the same reason 11 London boroughs are effectively one party states.