Ed Miliband has given a cautious welcome to significant gains by Labour in council elections in England and Wales, but has warned the party has "more work to do" if it's going to secure a victory at the next general election.
The party is keeping the champagne firmly on ice because results are still coming in - and the party fears it will lose control of Glasgow council later when results from Scotland begin to emerge.
Labour is also preparing for Ken Livingstone's expected defeat at the hands of Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral election, a result that's expected by early evening.
Miliband told reporters on Friday morning: “We are a party winning back people’s trust, regaining ground, but there’s more work to do.”
With just over half of the council election results in, Labour have gained more than 500 councillors. The party could find itself with more than 700 new wards by the end of the day.
As expected the coalition partners have had a bad night - as of 10am on Friday the Tories had lost nearly 300 seats and the Lib Dems almost 160. Nick Clegg said he was "very sad" at the losses, with the Lib Dem children's minister Sarah Teather saying it was "inevitable" that the Lib Dems would take another pounding at the ballot box. That said, Lib Dems are privately hoping that this year's elections won't be quite as bad for them as last year's.
Speaking on Friday morning David Cameron said he was “sorry for all the hard-working Conservative councillors who lost their seats."
"We need to appeal to people and I would note that in these results... in places like Amber Valley and Derbyshire, we still have a Conservative council. We've got to make sure we demonstrate that we're on the side of people who work hard."
Among other developments on Friday morning, Labour took the first-ever Liverpool mayoral election by a landslide, but so far all of the cities holding referendums on whether to have an elected mayor have rejected the idea - in another humiliation for David Cameron, who pushed the idea in the first place.
It's wasn't a perfect night for Labour, which had to watch as the Respect party gained five seats on Bradford council - mirroring George Galloway's shock win in the Bradford West by-election two months ago.
The Tories lost control of key battleground councils like Thurrock in Essex - although Tory sources say they are particularly concerned by a surge in support for UKIP in polls there.
She told the BBC: "Where Ukip is fielding candidates this time that the BNP did last time but they're not this time, I think that will have an impact. There are members of Ukip who are from all sorts of political parties, but it is an interesting mix there in terms of the number of candidates."
Her comments provoked a furious reaction from Ukip party workers, with one senior figure calling her a "bitch" on Twitter before hastily deleting the post.
Later today there will be further council election and Mayoral referendum results - but the big stories will come later in the day from Glasgow council and London.
Labour are not confident of winning either of these polls - Glasgow Council is considered a former Labour stronghold but is at risk of being lost to an SNP surge.
In London Ken Livingstone went into Thursday's poll trailing Tory incumbent Boris Johnson by six points. Most pundits have called the election for Boris - although as a party Labour is expected to do well in the London Assembly elections.
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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