Polls close at 10pm today in the council elections, and within as little as two hours a handful of quick-counting authorities will give an early taste of the long night - and day - to come.
Labour is set to make hundreds of gains overall but will want to pull ahead of its votes share performance last year when it was virtually neck and neck with Tories.
A clue could come from Tamworth in Staffordshire, frequently the first council to declare, and Lincoln.
Both are in marginal parliamentary constituencies which Tories gained from Labour at the general election.
Sunderland, five times first in Westminster poll counts, is also likely to be among early declarations.
In all three of these councils there was no change in the number of seats won by Tories between 2010's polls on the same day as the general election and those of last May - thought by some to be a disappointment for Labour.
The outcome is also likely to be known soon at Knowsley, a Labour stronghold on Merseyside.
Labour won every seat up for election in this borough in both 2010 and 2011.
This year the last four Liberal Democrat seats are up for grabs but holding even one of them would suggest a recovery for that party.
The wards won by parties in these areas in the last two years were:
:: Knowsley: 2010 - Lab 21; 2011 - Lab 21
:: Lincoln: 2010 - Lab 7, C 4; 2011 - Lab 7, C 4
:: Sunderland: 2010 - Lab 22, C 3; 2011 - Lab 21, C 3, Ind 1
:: Tamworth: 2010 - C 7, Lab 3; 2011 - C 7, Lab 2, Ind 1.
The first council to change hands could be Worcester, currently under Conservative control by one seat.
05/05/2012 00:34 BST
41-hours after polls opened Boris is mayor and we can all go to bed
So over 41 hours after polls opened on Thursday morning, Boris Johnson is mayor of London and we can all go to bed to dream analytical dreams about what the results mean for the country.
04/05/2012 22:45 BST
London Elects: 'Several Hundred' votes to be manually checked
Probable ETA of a declaration is about an hour, hopefully less (please)
04/05/2012 22:44 BST
Statement on the count delays from London Elects...
London Elects statement:
We have results in from 13 of the 14 constituencies in the Mayor of London and London Assembly election.
The final constituency is Brent & Harrow. The Greater London Returning Officer has been in touch with the CRO for Brent & Harrow to establish the reason for a delay.
All batches of ballot papers were registered and scanned. Two batches went to storage without some ballot papers being manually entered as required. Manual entry is required when a scanner cannot read a ballot paper – for example if a ballot paper is damaged. It is not an issue with the scanners.
The issue was identified during the verification stage. These two batches are being re-processed. To make this happen as quickly as possible we have separated out into several smaller batches. This is why the progress screens appear to show a changing number of verified ballot papers.
We will declare as soon as possible but it is obviously important that every vote is counted.
04/05/2012 22:29 BST
What's happening at City Hall?
Well we don't entirely know. The latest is that at least two ballot boxes were found unscanned at the Brent count, and they're now being counted by hand, for some reason.
There are rumours that Ken's team has asked for a full recount in Brent, which would delay things for another few hours.
London elects thinks it'll be only another 20 mins, but they've been saying that for nearly two hours.
04/05/2012 19:44 BST
YouGov are calling it for Boris..
@ tnewtondunn :
The Sun's pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov calls it - "Boris has won. He has too big a lead for Ken to overturn".
04/05/2012 18:24 BST
Ken-supporting constituencies now coming in...
It's leading to a sharp narrowing in the polls between the two candidates. On 1st preference votes Boris now has 44% and Ken 40% - 8 out of 14 constituencies have now declared.
04/05/2012 17:07 BST
London Mayoral Vote Getting Tight...
Here's the latest.
People are talking about 50/50 odds between Ken and Boris. The atmosphere at City Hall has changed dramatically in the past half hour.
04/05/2012 16:40 BST
Ed Miliband: We're coming back
Ed Miliband, speaking in Southampton, has declared that Labour is "coming back".
This comes after Labour took control of Southampton from the Conservatives.
He railed against the "out of touch government in Westminster".
"David Cameron promised change, not for the better but for the worse. Today in Southampton, it is a rejection of the economic failure of this government, and the unfairness of this government". he added
He also boasted that Labour is "beating back" the SNP in Scotland.
He recognised the low turnouts, saying it showed there was "still more to do".
04/05/2012 16:35 BST
Peter Bone MP - 'This is the beginning of the end of the coalition'
Conservative MP Peter Bone has said that the PM has 'one hand tied behind his back'.
"Worst of all, we've got the Liberals holding us back" he added
The results signified the "beginning of the end of the coalition", he told the BBC.
"We're seeing Boris winning as a Conservative in London, yet the Coalition losing against Labour. So the message must be let's come out of this coalition as soon as possible." he said
04/05/2012 16:25 BST
Liam Byrne optimistic despite Birmingham no vote
Liam Byrne, who quit the Shadow Cabinet in preparation for running for Birmingham Mayor, has just tweeted this
@ LiamByrneMP :
A huge thanks to ALL who supported Yes2Mayor, Albert and me: our job now is to get 4-square behind our brilliant new Lbr council #brummayor
Also here is a round-up from HuffPost of Tory dissent following the local elections drubbing. A few themes emerge. Many Tories think House of Lords reform is a distraction - a couple but don't like gay marriage, but the overwhelming narrative is there needs to be a growth strategy.","short_text":"
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