Local election results will give clue to national poll

Voter enters polling station in Cardiff Image copyright Getty Images

The polls have closed.

These elections are a complicated set of local contests, some old, some new, some electing an individual to a position of great power, most, individual races in wards that make up only a few streets, for councillors who then group together to run our towns and cities.

So as the results come in, from the early hours of Friday morning right through the day, what are we looking for?

First, these are important elections in their own right, and the results make a big difference to decisions that are made on our behalves all round the country.

Local authorities have significant powers over education, planning, local business rates for example, and the drift of government policy has been to give them more, not less.

Second, while you will hear my colleagues and me caution dozens of times in the next 24 hours that the results do not translate directly to the general election, they are a really significant barometer.

Pay attention, therefore, to how the Conservative and Labour fight shapes up in areas like Nottinghamshire, or Derbyshire.

Big Tory inroads will be a real worry for Labour as we hurtle towards the General Election.

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The loss of Glasgow council to the SNP and falling back in Wales too seem feasible - and would again add to Jeremy Corbyn's party's anxieties about June.

The elections will also be a test of whether the UKIP vote really does seem set to fade away now that we are heading for Brexit and, as it seems, Nigel Farage has taken his final bow.

And the Lib Dems are crossing their fingers for signs of a comeback.

To get their activists gingered up for the General Election they need signs of decent gains around the country.

The elections of new metro mayors will also be big headlines - particularly in Birmingham where the two big parties are both desperate to win.

It will be a long, and complicated day, and don't forget the caveats with which these results need to be coupled.

But the most important test of all will be whether Labour loses or gains seats in England, in parts of the country where the General Election will really be decided.

If they lose seats in England, that is a depressing indicator for any political party that wants to be seen to be on track for government

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