Time for me to sign off too. The wonderful Andrew Sparrow is back with a new live blog covering the latest results and analysis. Phew!

Updated

Boris Johnson has signed off as London mayor as Sadiq Khan looks almost certain to replace him.

1/2 Great to have looked back on Mayoralty this AM & taken your final questions on @LBC #AskBoris – thank you London for the last 8 years

— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) May 6, 2016

2/2 It’s time to sign off from City Hall – it’s been the most amazing privilege to be your Mayor. You can follow me on @BorisJohnson

— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) May 6, 2016

70% counted & it looks as though final mayoral result will be a lot earlier than the 2354 of 2012. Khan still ahead pic.twitter.com/pusR6yyc0K

— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) May 6, 2016

Nicola Sturgeon is about to deliver her post-results statement after the SNP surprisingly failed to secure a majority in the Scottish parliament.

The scene outside Bute House, where media of waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to deliver her post-results statement pic.twitter.com/fWnWvoVQpk

— Libby Brooks (@libby_brooks) May 6, 2016

The overall turnout in the elections in Northern Ireland was almost 55% after fears that it would dip bellow 50%, writes Henry McDonald.

According to the Electoral Office in Northern Ireland the overall number of votes polled across 18 constituencies was 703,744 – a turnout of 54.91%.

Counting is still ongoing and no candidate has yet been elected to the 108-strong Stormont parliament.

In Derry the Democratic Unionist MP for the neighbouring East Londonderry Westminster seat Gregory Campbell has told me he is confident the DUP candidate for Foyle, Gary Middleton, will take a seat in the Foyle constituency.

The veteran leftwinger and civil rights campaigner Eamon McCann, who is standing for People Before Profit in Foyle, is polling strongly and in contention for the sixth seat there. Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Féin deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, may be on course to top the poll.

Updated

Here’s video of Cameron’s response to the results.

David Cameron: ‘Labour has lost touch with people’

And here’s a video reminder of what Corbyn had to say.

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Labour hung on and grew support in a lot of places’

The people of Mid and West Wales have a lot to answer for after returning Neil Hamilton to politics (see earlier).

Here’s Hamilton appearing with his wife Christine on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, getting confused about exactly what country Blackpool is in. Challenged on his Welsh roots, the newly elected Ukip assembly member confidently replies he has strong ties with the country. “Cut me open,” he says “I’d be like a stick of Blackpool Rock.”

Does Neil Hamilton think Blackpool is in Wales?

Updated

With more than 70% of the votes counted in London, it is still looking very good for Sadiq Khan.

With ~30% of the vote left to count Sadiq Khan has a comfortable lead over Zac Goldsmith. pic.twitter.com/TXG9MTFIys

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

Currently 44% v 35% in @SadiqKhan's favour in race for @MayorofLondon. Tory @zacgoldsmith behind by 9% right now

— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) May 6, 2016

Updated

Police are investigating allegations of harassment, intimidation and postal vote fraud against activists for the British National party (BNP) in Pendle, east Lancashire, Helen Pidd understands.

Once a serious electoral force in certain former mill towns in Lancashire, the far-right BNP currently has just one councillor in the whole country, in Pendle. That lone man, Brian Parker, is not up for re-election until 2018, but he was hoping to be joined by a BNP comrade standing in his Marsden ward this time around.

The Conservatives’ Tommy Cooney just held off the BNP threat in Marsden, holding his seat with a slim 36 majority.

He said the Tories had filed a complaint with Pendle’s returning officer about “harassment and intimidation” of voters by BNP activists in the run-up to polling day.

He alleges that BNP canvassers were blocking people in the street on their way to the polling station, telling them to vote BNP, and that BNP activists were working as litter pickers outside a polling station, whispering to voters how to vote.

A Conservative town councillor, Neil McGowan, who lost to Parker in 2014, said he had a secret recording of a BNP activist asking an elderly lady for her postal vote.

A spokeswoman for Pendle council said: “There have been various complaints about the BNP that are being investigated by the police.”

The BNP could not be reached for comment.

Updated

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

Ken Livingstone has denied that his controversial comments about Hitler and Israel, which resulted in his suspension from Labour, damaged the party’s prospects in the local elections, writes Anushka Asthana.

The former London mayor repeated the statement that some German Jews had a “relationship” with the Nazis, and said it was the response of embittered Blairites that had in fact hurt Labour.

He also accused “far-right” Labour MPs for stoking up division in the party and claimed they had used the antisemitism row to attempt to damage Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

His comments came after the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, admitted the row over antisemitism within Labour had set the party back, with big swings to the Tories leading to the losses of the Sedgley ward in Bury and the Eastwood constituency in Scotland, both of which have significant Jewish communities.

The Labour leader in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale, also said the issue had been coming up on the doorsteps in the days running up to the elections, which handed Labour a terrible result north of the border. The Conservatives leapfrogged the party to become the official opposition.

Livingstone said last week that Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s “before he went mad” and killed 6 million Jews.

Questioned on the fallout from his comments, he told Sky News: “The simple fact is, so many people have gone on to the internet now, they have seen Joseph Finkelstein’s brilliant interview.

“A lot of people, it’s a shock to discover there had been that relationship between a small section of the Jewish community in Germany and Adolf Hitler but it’s historically true.

“And the simple reality of all of that is we shouldn’t be ashamed about some of the mistakes our government has made in the past and I don’t think the people of Israel, [they] don’t need to be ashamed of what happened 80 years ago.”

Updated

John Harris reports on the battle for Plymouth in the latest in our Anywhere but Westminster series.

The battle for Plymouth: politics in the age of chaos

Updated

Pollsters say Sadiq Khan is set to be elected London mayor

Bookies and pollsters are already calling the London mayoral race for Sadiq Khan.

Sadiq Khan on course to win London. @WEP_UK are beating @georgegalloway Latest votes from @londonelects pic.twitter.com/ZHT33vrPop

— Ben Page, Ipsos MORI (@benatipsosmori) May 6, 2016

Looks like the shrewdies who backed Sadiq Khan to be Mayor at 33/1 a couple of years back are about to get paid out. pic.twitter.com/wpAVMq9Jy8

— Ladbrokes Politics (@LadPolitics) May 6, 2016

John Curtice predicting a @SadiqKhan win in the second round 57% to Zac Goldsmith's 43% #LE2016

— Joe Oliver (@joe_oliver) May 6, 2016

Updated

Robert Booth is at Alexandra Palace where they are counting votes for London mayor.

The terrace provides a spectacular view of the prize on offer for either Sadiq Khan or Zac Goldsmith tonight: London.

Inside the vast main hall, the talk above the hum of counting machines sorting through hundreds of thousands of votes (each one processes 4,000 ballots an hour), is of possible legal challenges to the poll in Barnet after many voters were turned away on Thursday morning because the council had provided the wrong electoral roll.

Barry Rawlings, the leader of the Labour group on Barnet council, said he estimates around 1,000 people were turned away across the borough, with an unknown number returning to vote later when the problem was solved.

“If the result for the assembly member for Barnet and Camden constituency is down to 400 or 500 votes that would give rise to legal challenges and a request for a rerun,” he said. “It is obviously a complete cock-up. They sent out a list of people who have registered since January but not the rest of the register. It would have been 10% the size of the proper list. They should have spotted it.”

Sue Cocker, a spokesman for Barnet council, could not say how many people were turned away and said: “We don’t know the figure yet.” It has set up an internal investigation and Cocker said it was in contact with Jeff Jacobs, the Greater London returning officer.

However, if it is in the hundreds rather than thousands, it is unlikely to affect the result of the battle between Khan and Goldsmith for the mayoralty.

Updated

Sadiq Khan ahead

Labour’s Sadiq Khan has a clear lead over the Tory candidate, Zac Goldsmith, in the race for London mayor after more than half the votes have been counted, according to the official running tally.

Our London blogger, Dave Hill, points out that Khan could pull away further as the current tally has more votes counted in areas where support for Goldsmith is strongest, including Bromley, Bexley, Wandsworth and Havering.

Dave also points out that the Women’s Equality party candidate, Sophie Walker, is pipping George Galloway to fifth place.

Running tally in race for London mayor
Running tally in the London mayoral election. Photograph: London Elects

Updated

Corbyn: 'Labour did far better than predicted'

Jeremy Corbyn has denied that he had set the bar low for success and claimed Labour had done “far better” than predicted, writes Frances Perraudin.

The Labour leader was speaking to the Guardian at the count centre in Sheffield after celebrating Labour’s byelection win in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough constituency.

He said: “The media seem utterly obsessed with bars, which they falsely place and then claim they haven’t been reached.

“We never set a bar for this election. We’ve achieved a swing to Labour since a year ago. We’ll continue that campaign, and I’m very pleased with many of the results we’ve achieved, but there’s a lot more to come today.”

“We are defending seats that were last fought in 2012,” said Corbyn.

“In some areas of the country we’ve done very well. We’ve gained seats in Norwich, we held control of Harlow, of Nuneaton, of Cambridge of Southampton, of Exeter, of Plymouth.

“We have done actually far better than any of the media were predicting we were going to do.”

He also took a pop at the Telegraph when its chief political correspondent asked about challenges to his leadership.

“I love the Telegraph. You’re wonderful. You’re obsessed with me. You really are,” he said.

“I was elected leader less than a year ago and I’ve done a great deal of campaigning and I tell you this, in the councils that you and your paper predicted we would lose ... I’ve been in pretty well every one of those, campaigning, and we’ve gained seats in Norwich and other places.”

Corbyn with Gill Furniss, who won the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough byelection to replace her late husband, Harry Harpham.
Corbyn with Gill Furniss, who won the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough byelection to replace her late husband, Harry Harpham. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Updated

Labour MEP Richard Howitt, whose European constituency covers Peterborough, quibbles with Cameron’s boasts in the city.

In an email to the Guardian he writes:

In Peterborough, Labour actually won more councillors than before, going from 11 to 14. We won clean sweeps in two wards which had split results before, and boundary changes mean some constituents have a Labour councillor for the very first time.

“It is also hypocritical of David Cameron to thank Peterborough’s Tory MP when Jackson has opposed the Prime Minister at every step on Europe, recently accusing him of ‘scratching around Peterborough Labour Party for support’.

“Peterborough is not a success story for the Conservatives but a positive sign of Labour recovery.”

Ken Livingstone has been ranting about Hitler and antisemitism again.

Blimey Ken Livingstone on Sky News... He just mentioned Hitler again!

— Anushka Asthana (@GuardianAnushka) May 6, 2016

In all seriousness, what is it in Livingstone's mind that thinks, still, that he HAS to keep talking about Hitler?

— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) May 6, 2016

Livingstone accusing embittered Blairites response to his comments for making life harder for Khan in London. Double blimey.

— Anushka Asthana (@GuardianAnushka) May 6, 2016

Ken Livingstone admits to @Skynews the anti-semitism row hurting Khan in Barnet & Camden -- an area of London with large Jewish populations

— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) May 6, 2016

Cameron: results show 'Labour out of touch'

David Cameron said the results showed Labour had “completely lost touch” with the public.

“After six years in power we are actually strengthening our position in local government,” he told supporters in Peterborough.

He added: “The Labour party have completely lost touch with the hardworking people they are supposed to represent. They are so obsessed with their leftwing causes and unworkable economic policies that they forgot that people want jobs, people want livelihoods, people want lower taxes, people want homes they can live in and afford to own. Where we are a united mainstream, one nation, compassionate Conservative party we can win, we can serve our country and our communities.”

He also described the results in Scotland as a “realignment north of the border” after the Tories beat Labour to second place.

Updated

Lynton Crosby
Lynton Crosby Photograph: DAVID HARTLEY/REX/Shutterstock

Arise Sir Lynton …

The Conservatives’ election strategist, Lynton Crosby, dodged questions about Zac Goldsmith’s London mayoral campaign as he received a knighthood from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, PA reports.

Goldsmith’s campaign, run by Crosby’s communications firm CTF Comms, has come under fire from Labour and even from within the Tory party for its negative campaigning and focus on opponent Sadiq Khan’s Muslim heritage.

Some claimed it was Islamophobic.

Goldsmith’s attempt to succeed Boris Johnson looked to have come unstuck as polls in recent days put Khan well in the lead.

Crosby, who masterminded both of Johnson’s campaigns and was David Cameron’s general election campaign director, refused to comment after receiving his knighthood for political service on whether Goldsmith’s campaign had been too negative.

Updated

Jeremy Corbyn insists he will continue as Labour leader.

He told the Press Association: “I’m carrying on. Don’t worry about that. I’m carrying on. I’m fine. I’m very happy.”

He also told the Guardian’s Frances Perraudin that there has been “significant swing to Labour”.

Corbyn says today's results have seen "a significant swing to Labour" and are something to be pleased about. pic.twitter.com/0NfOFhl29v

— Frances Perraudin (@fperraudin) May 6, 2016

Final results in Wales

The final results in Wales confirm that Labour is just short of a majority with 29 seats, down one. Ukip secured seven seats including ones for the Tory defectors Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless. Plaid Cymru pipped the Tories to second place by one seat.

The final result in the #Wales2016 Assembly Election https://t.co/dyqb1TuuPl pic.twitter.com/m0CTDimt8Q

— WalesOnline (@WalesOnline) May 6, 2016

Updated

Helen Pidd has grim news from Pendle.

The BNP just beat Labour into second place in Pendle's Marsden ward. It was a Tory hold (473 votes to BNP's 437; Lab 292).

— Helen Pidd (@helenpidd) May 6, 2016

David Cameron is about to speak in Peterborough where the Tories hung on (the phrase of the morning) to control of the council.

British voters have once again refused to comply with conventional political wisdom, writes Tom Clark.

Few foresaw the all-conquering SNP failing quite to conquer Holyrood, with Nicola Sturgeon coming back just shy of an overall majority. Few predicted Jeremy Corbyn would come close to holding his own in the English council elections, after his catastrophic run-up to polling day. And fewer still would have guessed the reason why Labour, whom the experts had marked down to lose 150-200 seats, would instead stem its losses at somewhere in the low tens.

For the one safe psephological assumption about Corbyn’s socialist programme had seemed to be that it would go down better in the disgruntled heartlands, rather than in the decisive market town marginals. Instead, however, Labour has surrendered the traditionally rock-solid Rhondda to Plaid in Wales, and leaked votes in the north to Ukip, although – crucially – not normally enough to lose councillors. But at the same time, it actually held up far better in the south, in particular, than it was expecting. The old 1980s southern discomfort narrative was dusted down before these elections, but it has been defied as Labour held its own, or even advanced, in Crawley, Plymouth and Southampton.

As a result, while Corbyn’s overall vote share is indeed appreciably down on what Ed Miliband managed in his best year, 2012, his tally of seats is not so different. So Corbyn has indeed shed votes, but against all expectations he seems to have a knack for shedding them where he can best afford to. Labour’s base is even flakier than we thought, but it is more widely competitive too. The upshot? The next election gets a little bit harder to call.

Updated

The Welsh Labour leader, Carwyn Jones, has revealed he is prepared to work with the Lib Dems and/or Plaid Cymru, writes Steven Morris, after Labour fell short of a majority. He is talking to the other parties to check the lie of the land and may end up working with them informally but not in a coalition.

Speaking to the Guardian, Jones said: “Early days yet. Twenty nine (seats – out of a possible 60) is a lot more than the polls were predicting. We have to wait and see what the view of other parties may be. I have made it clear we can’t work with the Tories or Ukip.”

But he said he was talking with the Lib Dem leader, Kirsty Williams, and would talk to the second biggest party, Plaid.

“People will look to us to form a government as by far the largest party. We have to do that fairly quickly. We have a steel crisis that has to be dealt with. The last thing people want is uncertainty.”

Jones said the UK party’s troubles had not had a significant effect.

Asked if Jeremy Corbyn was unhelpful, Jones said: “This is a Welsh election. With any political party some people don’t like the leader. Jeremy wasn’t a significant issue at this election.”

Corbyn visited Wales this week. Jones said: “We were saying to people: ‘This is a Welsh election. I’m the party’s candidate for first minister.’”

On the lessons the UK party could learn from Welsh Labour, he said: “We think the key is to connect with people as much as possible and to be on the street meeting people. The key to yesterday’s victory was the amount of time knocking doors and phoning people.”

Updated

Labour has failed to make advances in key semi-marginal seats in the Midlands, where Ukip also caused the party to lose control of Dudley council, writes Ben Quinn.

In an area of the country that was the scene of local election triumphs for Ed Miliband’s Labour during his 2012 high watermark as leader, defenders of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership are likely to point to the successful defence of councils such as Cannock Chase.

However, in another bellwether area there was an 11% swing from Labour to Conservatives in Nuneaton, a result that was worse than last year’s general election where the Westminster seat was an early indicator of Tory success.

Elsewhere the picture was more complicated, with the Tories losing overall control of Worcester and coming away frustrated from Redditch, where Labour held an overall majority of one seat.

While Ukip failed to make any major breakhtroughs, apart from picking up a seat in Dudley, it made slow progress.

In Cannock, too, there was a warning for Labour that it could face future competition from the Greens, who picked up a seat after a highly focused campaign by one of its candidates paid off handsomely with more than 600 votes, almost as many as his Labour and Tory opponents combined.

A former Ukip Westminster candidate was also among those vanquished by the new Green councillor, Paul Woodhead, AKA Hednesford Town’s ‘Pitman Pete’ mascot.

The local Conservative MP, Amanda Milling, came away with little fear that her Cannock Chase parliamentary seat in the semi-marginal constituency would come under threat in future from a Labour party which held it during the Blair years.

“There was low turnout right across the area and the key thing I have taken is that Labour have lost, Ukip have lost a seat and we have gained a seat,” she told the Guardian.

“I think over time we are also going to have to look at how the vote share panned out across the evening. It was actually quite close in some cases.”

Patrick Frondigoun, an unsuccessful Labour candidate on the night and one of the local party’s most vocal supporters of Corbyn, identified the leader as one of the assets in its Cannock campaign and insisted that the result showed that voters “wanted change”.

“People are not happy with the way things are doing under this Tory government and they’re angry about things ranging from the disabliity benefit cuts to the Panama papers,” he said.

“I think partly it’s all about potholes – the shorthand for local issues – but I also think it’s more than that. I don’t think Corbyn is as unpopular or as unelectable as people think. We have a very strong Labour party here, and good people with it. Is Corbyn a part of it? You’d have to ask people on the doorsteps. The time when we will really know is in four year’s time at the general election.”

Updated

Corbyn: 'we hung on'

Corbyn hails the fact that Labour “hung on” to control of councils it was predicted to lose.

Speaking in Sheffield he said: “All across England we were getting predictions that Labour was going to lose councils. We didn’t, we hung on, and we grew support in a lot of places.”

Updated

Labour supporters and the press in Sheffield are waiting to greet Corbyn at the English Institute of Sport.

Labour supporters waiting for Corbyn to arrive in Sheffield. Apparently he doesn't have a pass to get into the count pic.twitter.com/AHVvxlrtcg

— Frances Perraudin (@fperraudin) May 6, 2016

Updated

Corbyn to claim 'good night' in England

Jeremy Corbyn leaves his house in London after the local election results.
Jeremy Corbyn leaves his house in London after the local election results. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Jeremy Corbyn is preparing to claim that Labour had a “good night” in England and held its own in Wales as he addresses activists on the steps of the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, writes Anushka Asthana.

The Labour leader will admit that his party had a poor result in Scotland, where he will pledge to work “hand in hand” with the local party to win back support across the country.

Corbyn will be speaking outside the count of the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough byelection that was won by Gill Furniss, the wife of the former Labour MP who passed away recently.

He will claim that the swing towards Labour in that byelection and another in Wales is a positive sign of his leadership, and also point to results in councils from Newcastle, Sunderland, Carlisle, Plymouth, Exeter and Crawley.

Corbyn will claim that the results reflect the work Labour has done over the crisis in the steel industry, protecting the NHS and forced academisation.

But other MPs inside the party claim that the results have been poor, including in England, with some saying anything less than 400 seat gains shows Labour is not on track for a 2020 majority.

Critics of Corbyn argue that he is setting the bar too low.

Lewis Baston, director of research at the Electoral Reform Society, picks out seven points from a “peculiar” set of results so far.

• The SNP has fallen well short of its aspirations, although it has continued the realignment of the working-class west of Scotland that made the changeover in the 2015 Westminster election so dramatic. For Scottish Labour, Rutherglen no more, Bellshill no more.

• The Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have performed remarkably well; the reasons need exploring but it seems that both are regarded as acceptable repositories for unionist votes – more so than Scottish Labour.

• The Labour brand, and Labour organisation, are still worth a lot. Labour has had a number of improbable escapes from losing councils across the south of England, most notably Southampton where the party held its ground, swapping a white working-class ward (Sholing) for a gain of the middle-class ward containing the university (Portswood) for the first time since 1981. Labour has been lucky with the electoral system in holding on to council seats it “should” have lost on the general trend.

• Compared to 2012, Labour has done rather better in the south than in the north – the swing in Southampton being 1.5 to Labour while in Bury it was 6.3 to the Conservatives. On a comparable basis of swing since the 2015 local elections, Labour would miss the apparently easy target of Bury North but gain the much harder Reading East.

• The swing from Labour to Conservative since Ed Miliband’s high point of 2012 seems to be about 2-3%, equivalent to a dead level result in national share of the vote or a tiny Labour lead. This is pretty similar to 2011 and 2014. Given the week or two Labour has had leading up to the poll, that is not bad. But given the month or two the Conservatives have had, neither is it much cause for celebration. Standing comparison to 2014, when Labour’s vote was leaking away, is not a matter for great pride.

• The Liberal Democrats do not have any wind in their sails. They managed some sporadic, spectacular wins in individual wards but not much general advance.

Ukip’s momentum has stalled. They have scored some reasonable shares of the vote in some of their stronger areas like Thurrock and Great Yarmouth, but no new hotspots have emerged. They slipped back badly in North East Lincolnshire (Grimsby), where they had dominated in 2014.

Updated

Hilary Benn
Hilary Benn Photograph: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

The Shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, has offered lukewarm loyalty to Corbyn.

Speaking to BBC News he said: “I don’t there is any complacency on the part of anybody in the party. We have a big task ahead. Jeremy was elected with a big mandate. Our job is to support him but in the end it is the electoral test that counts. And if we are going to be able to defeat this government then we have got to win more support in the months and the years ahead. This is the first stage, and we have made progress compared to last year, but we have a long way to go.”

It is significant perhaps that he felt the need to point out that Labour wanted to win in 2020. Some in the party fear that the main aim of Corbyn and his team is to take over the Labour party rather than win the next general election.

Benn said: “We have retained control of councils that people thought we might lose. Places like Harlow, and Norwich and Southampton and we won the two byelections.

“If we are going to form a government in 2020, which we want to to be able to get rid of this government, then we’ve got to win back more people’s trust and confidence and that’s a task for all of us in the party.”

Updated

Scottish Labour should consider merging with the SNP after its “horror north of the border” argues Simon Jenkins.

The merger of Scottish Labour and Scotland’s nationalists must be on the horizon one day, perhaps when the present generation of former Scottish Labour MPs acknowledges reality. Scotland’s politics must snap out of its tribalism and recover the conventional left-right dichotomy. The success of the impressive Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, can only hasten that day.

Senior figures in Scottish Labour have told Severin Carrell that the party must look again at home rule, after Labour was beaten into third place.

Some senior @scottishlabour and union figures believe Labour now must reopen home rule question, to rebuild popular support #Holyrood2016

— Severin Carrell (@severincarrell) May 6, 2016

Updated

The results are “disastrous and embarrassing” for those in the Labour party hoping for a general election win in 2020, according to the Spectator’s Isabel Hardman. Speaking on the magazine’s Coffee House podcast she said the results could only be seen as “pretty good” by Jeremy Corbyn’s low measure that the party would not lose seats.

Hamish Macdonell said the SNP’s failure to secure a majority in Scotland was a “big blow” to Nicola Sturgeon. He pointed out that the result did not match the party’s, or the media’s, expectation of how it would fare.

Updated

Peter Kellner
Peter Kellner Photograph: Richard Gardner/REX Shutterstock

The pollster and commentator Peter Kellner calls it a bad election for Labour, pointing out that it is the first time in 30 years that an opposition has lost ground in local elections.

In an article for Prospect, the former president of YouGov writes:

“Labour has done badly, albeit not as catastrophically as it feared. It looks like ending up with a net loss of fewer than 50 council seats, not the widely expected 150. Nevertheless, though Labour has done slightly better than last year, the BBC estimates that its average vote share is 4% down on 2012. This is bad for a party hoping to regain power nationally at the next general election. Unless today’s counts give Labour clear net gains, this will be the first time for more than 30 years that an opposition party has lost ground in council elections. Likewise, yesterday’s two parliamentary byelections, in Ogmore and Sheffield, produced the expected Labour holds, but no surge in the party’s support. By any standard other than the pre-election predictions, yesterday was disastrous for Labour.

In general, it looks as if Labour’s support held up best in the south, and proved increasingly fragile further north …

Labour’s worst performances last night were in Wales (down eight percentage points since the last equivalent elections in 2011) and Scotland (down nine) … For Labour to come third in a country it used to dominate is truly startling.”

Updated

The chancellor, George Osborne, is chipper about the local election results in England. “What an achievement to be winning seats after six years in power,” he tweeted.

Huge thanks to hardworking Conservative councillors and candidates: what an achievement to be winning seats after six years in power

— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) May 6, 2016

Updated

Ken Livingstone blamed for Labour losses in the north

A Labour councillor in Bury, north Manchester, has blamed Ken Livingstone for two Labour colleagues losing their seats in a heavily Jewish populated ward, writes our North of England editor, Helen Pidd.

Alan Quinn told the Manchester Evening News his party had lost two “hard-working and proud” councillors in Prestwich because of a “backlash against the Labour party”.

He said: “It’s down to one person, and that’s Ken Livingstone. He has caused grotesque offence to the Jewish population in Prestwich with his absolutely awful comments. Our councillors put their hearts and souls into representing the area and there really is no place in the Labour party for bigots like Ken Livingstone.”

Yet despite these losses, Labour kept control of Bury. Labour also became the biggest party in Stockport, deposing the Liberal Democrat leader, Sue Derbyshire, but not winning enough seats to gain overall control.

Elsewhere in the north of England, Labour has so far kept control of all of its councils, including Rochdale, Hartlepool, Carlisle, Sunderland, Newcastle, Liverpool, Hull, Halton, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral. In Liverpool, the city’s first directly elected mayor, Joe Anderson, won again for Labour with more than 50% of the vote. Labour also retained the parliamentary seat of Sheffield Brightside in a byelection.

But Labour lost seats to the Liberal Democrats in Hull and Rochdale. Ukip had a good night in Hartlepool, winning two more seats to take their total to five.

Updated

David Cameron has tweeted his congratulations to the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, after the Conservatives beat Labour to second place in the Scottish parliament.

He said: “She is a leader who will stand up to the SNP and give Scotland strong opposition.”

Congratulations to @Ruth_E_Davidson on this historic result: she is a leader who will stand up to the SNP & give Scotland strong opposition.

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 6, 2016

Updated

The Tory MP and outgoing London mayor, Boris Johnson, said Labour had suffered a “real drubbing” in Scotland. Speaking to LBC Radio he added: “There must be real questions now about Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to hold on to his position, I would have thought.

“As far as I can make out, the Conservatives are in second place in Scotland. It’s absolutely extraordinary.”

Johnson went on: “I think that what is happening across the country, as far as I can see, is that people are reacting adversely to some of the things they are hearing about Labour and the London Labour party, but we will have to wait and see what happens here in London tonight.”

Johnson said some people might suggest it would be tactically better for the Conservatives for Corbyn to continue as Labour leader.

Asked if he subscribed to that view, Johnson said: “I think it’s a matter for the Labour party. They have got to sort it out.”

Labour have had a “real drubbing” in Scotland and questions need to be asked on Jeremy Corbyn’s future, says Boris https://t.co/NOYvmxjB90

— LBC (@LBC) May 6, 2016

Updated

Here’s a reminder of how the Guardian covered Hamilton’s fall from grace over the cash for questions scandal back in 1996.

Guardian front page on Neil Hamilton in October 1996
Guardian front page on Neil Hamilton in October 1996 Photograph: The Guardian

Neil Hamilton
Neil Hamilton Photograph: Niki Nikolova/GC Images

Neil Hamilton has hailed his return to politics as a “surprising turn of events”.

In his victory speech Hamilton said:

Ukip has made a great breakthrough today, and I don’t think the politics of the assembly will ever be the same again. This has been quite a surprising turn of events for me. I hadn’t anticipated at the age of 67 that I would once again be elected to public office. Particularly after I had been liberated from it so spectacularly in 1997 by the electorate. But I came back into politics after that event for one thing and one thing only, to free our country from the bonds of the European Union.

Our main aim in the next few weeks is to make sure we win the referendum and that the whole of Britain including Wales is freed from the shackles of the EU.

Updated

Neil Hamilton returns to politics as Ukip member in Wales

The disgraced former Tory minister Neil Hamilton has been elected as a Ukip member of the Welsh assembly. He won 25,042 votes in Mid and West Wales and becomes one of the four assembly members on the regional list in that area.

Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton back in mainstream politics – he's won a seat for Ukip at the Welsh assembly.

— steven morris (@stevenmorris20) May 6, 2016

Updated

The SNP’s failure to secure an overall majority in Scotland is being seen as blow to the party’s hope of holding a second independence referendum, even if the UK votes to leave the EU.

.@theSNP's loss of majority means little prospect of 2nd referendum if Leave wins in June. Remainers will have to ditch that argument.

— Toby Young (@toadmeister) May 6, 2016

Astonishing. SNP loses its majority in the Scottish Parliament. Surely now impossible to call second indy ref - no clear mandate.

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) May 6, 2016

So it is official, @theSNP loses its majority. I cannot see how there is a legal second referendum in next five years, even if Brexit.

— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 6, 2016

Final results in Scotland: SNP fails to win majority

The SNP has failed to win an overall majority in Scotland and the Tories are confirmed as the second largest in the Scottish parliament.

The SNP won 63 of the 129 seats at the Scottish parliament. The Scottish Conservatives had their best ever result, securing 31 MSPs, while Labour suffered its worst result since devolution with 24 MSPs.

Scottish Parliament, the final result:
SNP: 63 MSPs (-6)
CON: 31 (+16)
LAB: 24 (-13)
GRN: 6 (+4)
LDEM: 5 (-)

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

Updated

The results in Wales show that the opinions polls got it broadly right. The BBC is forecasting that Labour is set to win 29 seats, with Plaid Cymru on 12, the Tories on 10 and Ukip on 7.

So far after 39 declared constituencies, Labour has won 26.

BBC forecasting team Wales seats prediction:
Lab 29 (2 short of a majority)
PC 12
Con 11
UKIP 7
LD 1

— Steve Fisher (@StephenDFisher) May 6, 2016

A poll last week said Labour was on course to win 28 of the 60 seats – down from 30 – with Plaid Cymru on 13 seats. The Tories were predicted to come third with 10 followed by Ukip with seven, and the Lib Dems were projected to win only two seats.

Updated

Tom Watson
Tom Watson Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has conceded that the results are “certainly a mixed picture for Labour” but he urged critics of Jeremy Corbyn to give the leader more time.

He was asked by the Today programme what he would say to MPs who were frustrated by Corbyn’s leadership. Watson said: “MPs are very important leaders within the Labour party, but our members lead the Labour party now. The one thing Jeremy and I agree on very strongly is that we want a member-led party. He was elected with a very strong mandate only eight months ago.

“Even our opponents would say that after eight months it would be very unfair and improper to hang this set of election results on Jeremy Corbyn’s peg alone. After only eight months people would say he needs more time to show the direction Labour needs to take to win that 2020 general election.”

Watson admitted Labour faced “a long journey back to win back hearts and minds in Scotland”.

He told Today: “We certainly have to make progress in Scotland before the next general election.

“Scottish voters want to see that the UK Labour party has learned the lesson of the Scottish referendum. So what we do on English devolution is important. We need to make sure we are committed to driving power out of Westminster.

“The remedy is very complex and we don’t have all the answers now. But I understand the seriousness of the task ahead.”

Watson insisted it was not possible to “draw simple conclusions” from the results.

But he added: “There is definitely cause for comfort with those local government results in England. If you look at the Crawleys or the Redditch, or Harlow, or Southampton. Yes, these are local conditions but these are still going to be the electoral battlegrounds for the 2020 general election.”

Updated

Ukip are now up to four seats in Wales including the Tory defector Mark Reckless.

Four seats for @UKIPWales in the Welsh Assembly so far - congratulations to @NathanGillMEP @DeceangliWoman@MarkReckless & @DavidRowlandsUK

— UKIP (@UKIP) May 6, 2016

two more Ukip successes in Wales - this time in South East Wales - and one of them the former Tory MP Mark Reckless

— steven morris (@stevenmorris20) May 6, 2016

Updated

The Scottish Tories now look fairly certain to beat Labour to second place in Scotland.

With 14 seats still to declare the SNP is on 60 seats, the Conservatives are on 25 and Labour is on just 20.

Ruth Davidson, Tory party leader in Scotland, said the result showed the strength of opposition to a second independence vote.

“I hope the message that was resonating was of being a strong opposition, of holding the SNP to account, to saying no to a second independence referendum,” she said.

Scottish Parliament, composition:
SNP: 60 (-4)
CON: 25 (+12)
LAB: 20 (-12)
GRN: 6 (+4)
LDEM: 4 (+1)
(14 yet to declare)

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

David Torrance, a columnist for the Herald and a biographer of Nicola Sturgeon, reckons this is the worst election result for Labour in Scotland since 1935.

By my reckoning last time Tories/Unionists (without allies) got more votes than Labour in Scotland in a non-EU election was 1935 #SP16

— David Torrance (@davidtorrance) May 6, 2016

Updated

Here’s confirmation that Ukip has won its first assembly seats in Wales.

North Wales list, number elected:
UKIP: 2
PC: 1
CON: 1

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

Ukip has won its first two seats at the Welsh assembly - one of them the party's leader in Wales, Nathan Gill.

— steven morris (@stevenmorris20) May 6, 2016

The party expects to secure at least five assembly seats in Wales.

Congratulations to @UKIPWales on winning two Assembly seats in North Wales.

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 6, 2016

Voters in a St Ives referendum have given 83% backing to a proposal to give planning permission to new housing projects only if they are reserved for full-time residents. The result will put a halt to new-build developments for outsiders.

Here’s the result courtesy of the town councillor Andrew Marshall:

42.7% turnout

3,075 yes

616 no

4 spoilt

Here’s some background on the proposal.

Updated

Leanne Wood
Leanne Wood Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Steven Morris brings some oratory from the valleys courtesy of the triumphant Plaid leader, Leanne Wood, who he says has pulled off the result of the night in Wales by beating the Labour stalwart Leighton Andrews. Wood said:

“A new dawn has already broken over the famous Rhondda valleys.

“There is no greater honour in political life than to be elected to represent your home constituency.

“I am so grateful to the people of the Rhondda for their mandate to serve them as their assembly member.

“I make a commitment to serve all here – without fear or favour – regardless of whether or not they voted for me.

“A new dawn has broken over these Rhondda valleys.

“It is too early to tell whether a new political dawn will break over the entire nation.”

Worth, too, revisiting the final day of the last assembly.

Plaid had been preparing to support Labour over a wide-ranging and important health bill (which included a ban on e-cigarettes in many places).

But then none other than the Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews jokingly branded Plaid a “cheap date” – suggesting its backing was easily won.

In a huff, Plaid withdrew its support for the bill and five years of work were lost in an instant.

Updated

The Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, is claiming a “breakthrough” in Wales as the party looks set to gain at least five assembly members, including possibly the disgraced former Tory minister Neil Hamilton.

It's looking like a breakthrough for UKIP in Wales as well as right across the country.https://t.co/ZcH8IlnLEO

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 6, 2016

Updated

Labour MP Emma Reynolds
Labour MP Emma Reynolds Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, who stood down as a shadow minister when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader, said Labour’s results were “not good enough” to suggest the party would be returning to government.

“We have done well in some areas, but l don’t think we should be content with either standing still or going backwards in other areas,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Reynolds also described the results in Scotland as “troubling and disappointing” for Labour.

She added: “Now with the Tories in disarray and six years of Tory government, we should be making significant gains at local elections at this stage in the parliament cycle.”

Asked about Corbyn’s future as leader, she said: “Jeremy needs to set out more clearly his vision for the country, but also how he is going to reach out to those voters who we have lost to the Tories and Ukip and SNP. I simply don’t think the results we have seen have been good enough to suggest that we are rooting to get back into power and get rid of this wretched Tory government.

“As a party, and him as a leader, we need to make sure that we are not just speaking to the converted, the core Labour vote, but that we are reaching beyond that.

“Nobody has been speaking of a challenge. We have got a European referendum in less than two months’ time. We have to focus on the job in hand which is to make sure we stay in the European Union.

“I respect the fact that he is our leader. But he now has a responsibility to make sure that we are not just content with keeping our core vote. We really do have a lot of work to do if we want to get back on the route to power.”

Updated

Steven Morris picks out another really good result in the Welsh capital for Labour – Julie Morgan (wife of the former first minister and Welsh Labour leader Rhodri) has clung on to Cardiff North. Decent majority too – 3,667.

Richard Wyn Jones, professor of Welsh politics at Cardiff University, calls this a “stunning result”. The Tories had hoped to win this one – their candidate, Jayne Cowan, is a popular local councillor and her party took this seat at the Westminster election last year.

Cardiff North:
LAB: 44.8% (-2.8)
CON: 35.0% (-7.4)
UKIP: 6.7% (+6.7)
PC: 6.1% (+0.7)
LDEM: 3.0% (-1.6)

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

Updated

Nicola Sturgeon speaks after being re-elected to serve Glasgow Southside.
Nicola Sturgeon speaks after being re-elected to serve Glasgow Southside. Photograph: Robert Perry/EPA

Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the SNP’s third-term win in Scotland as historic.

Sturgeon, who was comfortably returned as the MSP for the Glasgow Southside constituency, said: “I want to thank the people of this great city of Glasgow.

“If you had told me when I was a teenager, starting out in politics, that one day the SNP would win every constituency in the city of Glasgow, not just in one election but in two elections, I would scarcely have been able to believe it.”

She went on to thank “with great humility the people of Scotland for placing their trust in me and in the SNP”.

Sturgeon continued: “What is now beyond doubt is that the SNP has won a third consecutive Scottish parliament election. That has never been done before in the history of the Scottish parliament. We have tonight made history.”

Updated

Kezia Dugdale
Kezia Dugdale Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Kezia Dugdale has insisted she won’t be standing down as Scottish Labour leader, despite conceding that Labour looks set to be beaten into third place in Scotland.

Speaking to Sky News she was repeatedly asked about whether she would resign.

She said: “I’m 100% committed to continuing as the leader of the Scottish Labour party. I have a mandate to lead the Scottish Labour party. Politics in Scotland has fundamentally changed since the Scottish referendum. The Labour party has to appeal to people who voted both yes and no in that referendum.

“The reality of the SNP winning tonight and the Tories becoming the official opposition, if that is indeed what happens, is that there is now a majority in Scotland for austerity, and that means £3bn of cuts yet to come in Scotland. I will continue to stand firmly against that.”

Dugdale added: “I took over the leadership of the party just after our most devastating general election result going from 41 MPs to just one. I said at that time that the problems of the Scottish Labour party hadn’t happened overnight, and they wouldn’t be fixed overnight. But I had a plan to renew the fortunes of our party.”

Updated

After retaining his Bridgend seat, the Welsh Labour leader, Carwyn Jones, said London politicians had not helped his party, writes Steven Morris.

The first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones
The first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Asked about the divisions within Labour on the UK level, Jones said: “It’s not helped. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. The lesson is that it’s really important for politicians in London not to say things that are not helpful to colleagues in the UK.”

Regarding the shape of a new government, he said: “Let’s see what the arithmetic is like when all the results are declared. We’re going to be by far the largest party. I’m sure there will be a lot of thought given to what the future looks like over the weekend. What’s important is to get a government in place that’s stable, especially with the steel crisis we face. We’ll have to see what happens in the next 24 hours and beyond.”

He added: “We’re doing better than people thought. We haven’t had a Tory surge.” He described the Rhondda result as a “huge disappointment” and admitted he did not know what went wrong. “It’s not something we saw coming. At this stage it’s not clear.”

A very good result for Labour – Jenny Rathbone hangs on to Cardiff Central. The Lib Dems had high hopes of pinching this one but fell 917 votes short.

Updated

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale
Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

The Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, who failed to secure the Edinburgh Eastern seat where she was standing, has been elected via the regional list.

Dugdale admitted the election was “always going to be tough” for the party “just a year after a painful general election defeat”.

.@kezdugdale offers congrats to @NicolaSturgeon and @theSNP on #SP16 victory pic.twitter.com/c6KUFzca6g

— Paul Ward (@paulward21) May 6, 2016

Dugdale was one of two Labour MSPs elected for the Lothian region along with Neil Findlay. Sarah Boyack, who had won a seat via the list in 2011, failed to be re-elected.

PA has more:

Three Tories were elected as list MSPs from Lothian, with Miles Briggs, Gordon Lindhurst and Jeremy Balfour all now heading for Holyrood.

The Greens also now have two MSPs for the area, with Alison Johnstone returned to the Scottish parliament along with the land reform campaigner Andy Wightman.

Glasgow was the first area to declare its list MSPs for the region, with Labour taking four of the seven places.

Anas Sarwar, a former Labour MP and ex-Scottish deputy leader, was elected to Holyrood on the list, along with the former leader Johann Lamont, and party colleagues James Kelly and Pauline McNeill.

The Tories gained two more MSPs, with Adam Tomkins and Annie Wells both elected, while the Green co-convener Patrick Harvie was again returned as an MSP for the city.

Updated

Early morning summary

  • Labour has suffered a terrible election result in Scotland, where Sky News is now projecting it to come third, but taken some comfort from its performance in English council elections, where it has lost fewer seats than expected. The Scottish Conservatives have been celebrating; according to one projection, they are on course to gain 10 seats in the Scottish parliament, and it seems likely that Ruth Davidson will achieve her goal of seeing her party replace Labour as the main opposition party in the Scottish parliament. The SNP have achieved the unprecedented feat of winning their third Holyrood election, although it looks as if they will fail to increase the size of their majority, as polls suggested they might. In Wales Labour has been pushed back, and Carwyn Jones, its leader, is resigned to forming a minority administration. And for the first time the Welsh assembly will contain Ukip AMs, because Nigel Farage’s party has seen its vote surge in Wales, as well as in parts of England.
  • Some Labour figures have been openly criticising Jeremy Corbyn, saying he needs to take responsibility for the party’s poor performance. Peter Hain, the former cabinet minister, said that Labour should be “gaining seats at this stage in the cycle, not losing them” and that Corbyn had to show he could win over the centre ground. The Labour MP Jo Cox said that the results were “incredibly disappointing” and that Corbyn needed to take responsibility. Another backbencher, Neil Coyle, said that under Corbyn the party was “moving away from government”. Leadership loyalists like John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Tom Watson, the deputy leader, said it was too soon to expect Corbyn to restore the party’s fortunes and that what mattered was that the party was moving in the right direction. The latest BBC projections suggest that Labour will lose far fewer than the 150 English council seats experts predicted, and that it may even beat the Conservatives in terms of national vote share. Corbyn’s critics say that, to have any chance of winning in 2020, the party needs to be doing much, much better than this. But John Mann, who is critical of Corbyn’s performance, said he was not aware of any MPs who wanted a leadership challenge and no senior figure has called for Corbyn to quit.
  • The SNP has gained a series of constituency seats from Labour, including Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn, Renfrewshire South, Coatbridge & Chryston, Glasgow Pollok, Motherwell & Wishaw, Edinburgh Northern & Leith, Rutherglen, Greenock & Inverclyde and Uddingston & Bellshill. But the gains in Scotland have not all been one way. The Conservatives have gained seats from the SNP in Aberdeenshire West and in Edinburgh Central (where Ruth Davidson was elected), and they have taken seats from Labour in Eastwood and in Dumfriesshire. Labour gained a seat from the SNP in Edinburgh Southern, and Willie Rennie, the Lib Dem leader in Scotland, took a seat from the SNP in Fife North.
  • Plaid Cymru’s leader in Wales, Leanne Wood, has won Rhondda, a heartlands seat, from Labour. She beat Leighton Andrews, the Welsh public services minister. Labour admitted this was a significant loss, and put this down to the “huge national profile” Wood built up when she took part in the general election debates last year.
  • The Conservatives have so far made a net gain of 15 seats in the English council elections. Labour has made a net loss of 10 seats. The results are still coming through, but Labour seems to be doing less badly than some in the party feared. It has lost control of Dudley, but held on to cities including Birmingham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sunderland, as well as key southern outposts like Exeter, Southampton, Crawley and Slough. The Conservatives have gained control of Worcester and Peterborough.
  • Ukip has gained seats in Thurrock, Tamworth and Bolton and looks set to secure its first representation on the Welsh assembly.
  • Labour has retained two seats in parliamentary byelections, Ogmore and Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.
  • Labour’s Joe Anderson has been re-elected mayor of Liverpool.

That’s all from me for now. My colleague Matthew Weaver is taking over, and I will be back blogging again later.

The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, reacts as results come in at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, reacts as results come in at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Updated

Sky News projection says Tories are on course to come second in Scotland

Sky News has broadcast its projection for the results in Scotland. It expects the SNP to get 69 seats (the same number as they got in 2011), the Conservatives 25 (up 10), Labour 20 (down 17) and the Lib Dems six (up one).

Updated

John Curtice also revealed on the BBC that it looks as though Labour may be “very slightly ahead” of the Conservatives on national share of the vote in the English council elections. He said the Tory vote seemed to be down about four points, and the Labour vote seemed to be up four points.

In a blog early this week Curtice said that when calculating a “proportional national share” figure for the local elections this year he would be benchmarking them against new figures he had produced for the PNS for the 2015 local elections. In 2015 the Tories were on 35% and Labour 29% on this measure, suggesting this year’s figures could put the Conservatives on 31%, and Labour on 33% – although the figures will doubtless change as new results come in.

Curtice also said he thought Labour would not lose as many as 150 council seats, as some of the experts were predicting (see 10.25pm), and that as a result Jeremy Corbyn would be able to say he performed better than expected.

Updated

John Curtice says it is looking as if the Tories may come second in Scotland. But it is not certain, he says.

And he says he expects the SNP to gain fewer seats than the 69 they got in 2011.

Updated

On the basis of the 25 constituency results in from Wales, turnout is 43.4%, up 3.8 percentage points on 2011.

According to the BBC, Labour’s share of the vote in Scotland seems to have fallen by 10%. And the Conservatives’ share of the vote has risen by 8%.

Plaid Cymru’s leader, Leanne Wood, has beaten Labour in the Rhondda, overturning a majority of almost 7,000.

In Rhondda @LeanneWood overturns Labour's 6,739 majority to win with a majority for Plaid Cymru of over 3,000 votes pic.twitter.com/UNrsfNXCsK

— Plaid Cymru (@Plaid_Cymru) May 6, 2016

She beat Leighton Andrews, public services minister in the Welsh government.

Updated

We’ve had a police and crime commissioner result in. Angus Macpherson, a Conservative, has been elected on the second count in Wiltshire.

Liverpool mayoral results in full

And here are the full results of the Liverpool mayoral election.

Joe Anderson (Lab) 51,332 (52.61%, -6.73%)

Richard Kemp (LD) 20,598 (21.11%, +14.78%)

Tom Crone (Green) 10,609 (10.87%, +5.62%)

Roger Bannister (TUSC) 4,950 (5.07%, +0.21%)

Alan Hutchinson (Ind) 3,964 (4.06%)

Tony Caldeira (C) 3,533 (3.62%, -0.87%)

Paul Rimmer (Eng Dem) 2,590 (2.65%, +1.23%)

Labour’s Joe Anderson has been re-elected as mayor of Liverpool.

.@joeforliverpool wins second term as elected mayor but may only be in post for a year if he stands for mayor of #merseyside #LocalElections

— Dan Peters (@DanatTheMJ) May 6, 2016

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, has just won her seat in Glasgow Southside, with 61.4% of the vote.

She thanks the people of Scotland for placing their trust in her.

But she says it is already “beyond doubt” that the SNP have won a third consecutive victory in the Scottish parliament. That has never been done before, she says.

We in the SNP will always stand up for Scotland. And tonight Scotland has stood up for us.

She says she is making a pledge to govern on behalf of everyone, those who voted SNP and those who did not vote SNP.

Updated

Peter Hain says Corbyn has not yet shown he can win the centre ground

Peter Hain, the Labour former cabinet minister, has told the BBC that his party should be winning seats, not losing them, and that Jeremy Corbyn has not shown “anything like an ability to … win the centre ground”.

Frankly, for us to be on course and confident of winning the next general election, we should be gaining seats at this stage in the cycle, not losing them.

He said the party was “not showing the kind of momentum you would have expected” after a “disastrous” budget and with the Conservatives split over Europe.

The leadership has to show that it can win the centre ground, as well as doing what Jeremy has done very effectively in bringing the left back into the party.

What he hasn’t shown anything like an ability to do is win the centre ground votes that we need to win a general election.

Updated

These tweets are from the academic Rob Ford. They suggest the Conservatives and Lib Dems have done particularly well in Scotland in constituencies where they are the main opposition to the SNP.

Scottish Cons up 8 points overall, but by 13.5 points in seats where they started as the local opposition to the SNP

— Rob Ford (@robfordmancs) May 6, 2016

Scottish Lib Dems up 2 points overall, but 11 points in the 4 seats where they started as the local opposition to the SNP

— Rob Ford (@robfordmancs) May 6, 2016

Updated

In Scotland David Mundell, the Conservative Scottish secretary, has said he expects the Tories to come second.

I think it will be a seismic change in Scottish politics that the Scottish Conservatives are the second party in the Scottish parliament.

I was a candidate back in those first elections in 1999. It would have been incredible to think the Scottish Conservatives could have finished ahead of Labour and be the official opposition.

It demonstrates that Ruth [Davidson] has transformed our party in Scotland, taken it forward and given us, I hope, a very significant role in the next Scottish parliament.

Updated

And here is the latest state of play from Wales, from the Press Association.

After 10 first-past-the-post results out of 40 in the Welsh assembly election the state of the parties is:

Labour: nine seats.

Plaid Cymru: one seat.

Based on the results so far, the forecast is for Labour to have 26 seats, Plaid Cymru six, Conservatives six and Lib Dems two.

Updated

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, has just been elected in the Edinburgh Central constituency.

This is from the BBC’s Nick Eardley.

Kezia Dugdale likely to be the only leader among big four parties that fails to win constituency

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) May 6, 2016

Here is the latest state of play from Scotland, from the Press Association.

After 40 results out of 73 in the Scottish parliament election the state of parties is:

SNP: 33 seats, including four gains and two losses.

Labour: one seat and five losses.

Conservatives: two seats, including one gain.

Lib Dems: four seats, including two gains.

The latest forecast suggests the SNP will end up with 60 constituency seats, the Tories six, Labour three and Lib Dems four.

Updated

The Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has failed in her bid to win the Edinburgh Eastern constituency from the SNP.

Updated

My colleague John Harris has sent me this from the Plymouth count.

All Labour holds so far. The Tories looking downcast, Labour upbeat. It’s more about consolidation than advance, but the Conservatives said Corbyn’s stance on Trident and anthemgate would harm Labour here, and it doesn’t seem to have happened. There’s no Ukip surge so far either. Lesson: as with Oldham East, these excited media predictions of Labour meltdown aren’t materialising in England.

The BBC have just broadcast the latest figures they have for what they think is happening to the share of the vote in Wales. Here they are.

Labour: -8

Conservatives: -3

Plaid Cymru: +2

Ukip: +15

Lib Dems: -3

Greens: +2

John Curtice has just told the BBC that the first results have come in from the Scottish regional lists. He said it was still not clear whether or not the Conservatives would come second in Scotland, but he said that if he were a Tory spokesman, he would not be too confident about predicting reaching second place. It was “by no means a done deal”, he said.

He also said that he expected the SNP to have an overall majority, but that it could be smaller than it was in 2011.

Jack McConnell, the Labour former first minister of Scotland, is on the BBC’s election programme. Asked to explain what is happening in Scotland, he tries to explain it with an anecdote. There is a man in his local garage who for years has had a go at him about Labour, he says. But he says recently he has started making critical comments about the SNP. McConnell says he thinks that, after nine years, the SNP are now being held to account for their record.

John Mann says Labour MPs do not want a leadership challenge

This is what the Labour MP John Mann, who was been an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn, told the BBC earlier about not wanting to see a leadership challenge.

Let me say that this speculation about a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, it was my view a month ago and a day ago that shouldn’t be one. It’s my view today that there shouldn’t be one. What we need is him to get on top of the big issues and start broadening our appeal.

We should have been winning by a landslide across the country with the way this Tory government’s been acting and the way they’ve dealt with the country, the collapse in economic confidence. We’re doing okay, not bad results, we’re holding our own, but we should be doing dramatically better than this.

But now is not the time for any challenge and that’s the view as well of virtually all of my colleagues who I speak to who the media might call somewhat critical of some of Jeremy’s policies. So that isn’t going to happen.

According to the Press Association, the latest forecast is that suggests the SNP will end up with 61 constituency seats in Scotland, the Tories six, Labour three and Lib Dems three.

After 30 first-past-the-post results out of 73 in the Scottish Parliament election the state of parties is:

SNP 24 seats, including three gains and one loss.

Labour one seat and four losses.

Conservatives two seats, including one gain.

Lib Dems three seats, including one gain.

But these figures do not take into account the regional seats, which are allocated on a proportional system designed to compensate those parties that lose out under first-past-the-post.

Edge-of-the-seat news from Witney East where Duncan Enright – sitting Labour councillor and unsuccessful challenger to David Cameron in last year’s general election – first lost then regained his council seat after, as he tweeted, a “bundle of my votes” were found “under a Tory pile”:

Lost by 70 votes or so. Thanks for the opportunity to serve. The fight goes on

— Duncan Enright (@duncanenright) May 6, 2016

Miscount in #Witney East, result now in, I win by 70! THANK YOU!

— Duncan Enright (@duncanenright) May 6, 2016

Actually I won! Bundle of my votes under a Tory pile! Delighted! Thanks Witney! https://t.co/zyxsXceOhL

— Duncan Enright (@duncanenright) May 6, 2016

Three Labour councillors out of three re-elected in #Witney and #Chippy Wahay! pic.twitter.com/7gn9s5kfad

— Duncan Enright (@duncanenright) May 6, 2016

Labour have increased their majority in the bellwether council of Crawley in West Sussex, a rare southern English council which is highly symbolic.

Mike Pickett snatched Southgate ward from his Conservative rival shortly before 3am, with Labour also holding the marginal seats of Tilgate and Ifield. The most marginal council in the country, Labour now have a two seat majority over the Tories. No other parties won seats.

“I think it goes to show that many of the so-called commentators got it wrong again,” Pickett said. “I’m not a Corbynista. I’m an ordinary citizen who thinks he can do something for his fellow residents in this small part of England. We’ve increased our majority here and I think this will be reflected across the country too.

“The Labour Party has been vilified, a lot of stuff that has appeared in the Tory press has been saved up for these elections to try and make us lose. And we haven’t.”

Chants of 9-4! 9-4! (The number of councillors won in Crawley tonight) pic.twitter.com/ivAjO6vDZO

— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) May 6, 2016

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has arrived at the Glasgow count to huge cheers.

She promised to govern the country ‘in the interests of everybody’, saying that her priority would be education.

Asked about whether she would use her victory to push for independence, she said:

The decision on that will always lie where it rightly belongs, in the hands of the Scottish people.

I will govern for every single person in this country and seek to win the trust of those who didn’t vote SNP yesterday,” adding that, on the results so far, that didn’t appear to be many people.

Willie Rennie, the Lib Dem leader in Scotland, has gained North East Fife from the SNP.

The Labour MP John Mann is on the BBC now. He rejects the suggestion that his on-air row with Ken Livingstone last week damaged the party’s chances. He says no one has brought this up with him on the doorstep.

But he says tonight’s results show Labour has a problem with Jewish voters. Jeremy Corbyn has to address this, he says.

He says that if Labour were to come third in Scotland, that would be “cataclysmic” and “so beyond comprehension”. He says it would prompt some “severe soul searching”.

But Mann says that he does not support calls for a challenge to Corbyn’s leadership. It is for Corbyn to address these problems, he says.

McDonnell: antisemitism row 'will strengthen Labour'

On Radio 4, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has admitted that the antisemitism row has “had its effect” on Labour’s results in Scotland. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing, he added:

In some ways I’m pleased it’s happens because it’s exposed an issue in our party we’ve got to address, and we’re addressing it.

In some ways it’ll strengthen us. It’s a tough time at the moment, we’re learning lessons and we’ve got to come through it that much stronger.

Labour’s loss to the Tories in Glasgow’s Eastwood seat is being attributed by some to the row over antisemitism in Labour’s ranks.

Here’s the Guardian story about the Ogmore byelection.

Labour have held Southampton, the party says.

Chris Grayling, the Conservative leader of the Commons, has just told Radio 5 Live that it is looking as if the Conservatives will end up with more constituency seats in Scotland than Labour. That would be remarkable, he said.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is having a good night:

Fascinating: the Conservatives have raised their share of the vote in every Scot Parl seat declared thus far, save for Orkney

— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) May 6, 2016

But it’s all about second place, really, as the Scottish Daily Mail calls it early, and uncontroversially, for Sturgeon:

Scottish Daily Mail: #sp16 election special pic.twitter.com/xeN3kiJfeF

— Alan Roden (@AlanRoden) May 6, 2016

Updated

On the BBC election programme John Curtice has just said that it is beginning to look as if tomorrow morning will look “not as bad for Jeremy Corbyn as it could have done”. This is because Labour is managing to hold on to councils like Crawley, he said. And partly that is because the Conservative vote seems to be falling away in the southern half of England, he said.

Byelection results in full

We’ve had the second byelection result. Labour’s Chris Elmore had hold Ogmore in Wales, where the former MP Huw Irranca-Davies resigned so he could stand for the Welsh assembly.

Here are the Ogmore results in full.

Chris Elmore (Lab) 12,383 (52.62%, -0.32%)

Glenda Davies (Ukip) 3,808 (16.18%, +0.81%)

Abi Thomas (PC) 3,683 (15.65%, +5.56%)

Alex Williams (C) 2,956 (12.56%, -3.38%)

Janet Ellard (LD) 702 (2.98%, -0.06%)

Lab maj 8,575 (36.44%)

0.56% swing Lab to Ukip

Electorate 55,027; Turnout 23,532 (42.76%, -20.96%)

And here are the results from the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.

Gill Furniss (Lab) 14,087 (62.38%, +5.80%)

Steven Winstone (UKIP) 4,497 (19.91%, -2.20%)

Shaffaq Mohammed (LD) 1,385 (6.13%, +1.63%)

Spencer Pitfield (C) 1,267 (5.61%, -5.39%)

Christine Gilligan Kubo (Green) 938 (4.15%, -0.12%)

Stevie Manion (Yorks) 349 (1.55%)

Bobby Smith (GMBE) 58 (0.26%)

Lab maj 9,590 (42.47%)

4.00% swing UKIP to Lab

Electorate 68,439; Turnout 22,581 (32.99%, -21.81%)

Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who resigned over cash-for-questions and who is now a Ukip candidate in Wales, has just told BBC Radio 5 Live that he expects Ukip to win eight seats in the Welsh assembly. It will be the first time they have been represented there.

Labour has held Crawley, with an increased majority. It is a Labour council, but Labour had a majority of just one and it was a council where the Tories seemed to have a chance of making gains.

Now here’s something we haven’t seen in a while: the Liberal Democrats are trending on Twitter:

Rumours of their death etc #LibDems pic.twitter.com/MesEgOwPg3

— Claire Phipps (@Claire_Phipps) May 6, 2016

In Wales Labour Labour expects to hold Caerphilly but with a significantly reduced majority, according to Labour sources.

The SNP looks set to take Dumbarton from Labour, according to SNP sources.

In Wales Carwyn Jones, the Labour first minister, has acknowledged that his party may need to do a deal with Plaid Cymru or the Lib Dems to form an administration.

We are confident we will be by far the largest party so it will be up to us to look to form a government.

We have worked with Plaid and the Lib Dems before, so that’s something we know has happened in the past, but let’s wait and see what the final figures show.

He also suggested that Ken Livingstone’s comments last week may have damaged Labour’s prospects in Wales.

Whenever a politician in London says something unhelpful we don’t welcome that, of course we don’t. I certainly didn’t welcome Ken Livingstone’s comments.

As Severin Carrell pointed out, the shift in Glasgow’s Eastwood constituency – which has fallen to the Tories having been a Labour stronghold in all previous Holyrood elections – could be a casualty of the antisemitism row that has bedevilled Labour.

Former Labour MP for West Dunbartonshire Gemma Doyle seems to think so:

Tories win Eastwood,very tight three way. Did Labour's anti-semitism row make the difference.

— Torcuil Crichton (@Torcuil) May 6, 2016

Almost certainly https://t.co/oaxPknLC6M

— Gemma Doyle (@gemmacdoyle) May 6, 2016

Labour’s Ken Macintosh, who has held the Eastwood seat since 1999, in fact ended the night in third place, behind the Conservatives and the SNP.

The Lib Dems say they have gained two seats in Hull, and held every seat in Southport.

This is from Jamie Ross, BuzzFeed’s Scotland correspondent.

Unless something extraordinary happens in the next few hours, I understand Labour now expect to come third tonight.

— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) May 6, 2016

There were jubilant scenes as co-conveyor of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie and candidate Zara Kitson, both believed to have a very strong chance of winning two Glasgow list seats, arrived at the Emirates. It is also believed that Harvie had come second in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency, where he was standing for the first time, beating Labour into third place.

The Greens, who enjoyed a five-fold increase in membership after the independence referendum, during which they campaigned for a yes vote alongside the SNP, hoped to consolidate this rise in profile and the early signs are good.

Harvie said that the influx of new activists had allowed the party to reach voters in a way that was previously impossible.

“It’s given us the ability to run a campaign on a scale we’ve been lacking previously. There have always been people willing to vote Green but we weren’t getting our message to them. This time we did and if the indications are correct we’ve had our strongest ever showing.”

There is a significant Jewish community in Eastwood, and my colleague Severin Carrell says it is possible that the Ken Livingstone/antisemitism row may have contributed to Labour’s defeat there.

Is Ken Macintosh defeat the most tangible damage from Ken Livingstone antisemitism row? Quite likely #Holyrood2016 https://t.co/7UPUiiNHFL

— Severin Carrell (@severincarrell) May 6, 2016

Updated

In Scotland the Conservatives have just won Eastwood, the Holyrood seat that overlaps with the Westminster seat that used to be represented by Jim Murphy, the Labour leader in Scotland, until 2015. There was a swing from Labour to the Conservatives of 5.7%.

Labour has easily held on to Rochdale, despite Lib Dem boasts of a comeback and talk that Simon Danczuk’s name was mud on the doorstep. “Some comeback that was,” said Danczuk, who is now sitting as the town’s Independent MP after being suspended by the Labour party. Labour lost one seat to the Lib Dems and gained one from the Tories, retaining 48 of the council’s 60 seats. It looks as though the drama in Greater Manchester tonight is in Stockport, where the Liberal Democrat leader, Sue Derbyshire, has been ousted by a Labour candidate. That means all ten leaders of the Greater Manchester councils are almost certainly going to be men from tomorrow.

Updated

This is from Philip Cowley, an academic.

45 councils declared thus far in England. Not a single one changed control yet. The action is all at the councillor level.

— Philip Cowley (@philipjcowley) May 6, 2016

We’ve had the first byelection result of the night. Labour’s Gill Furniss has been elected in Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, where her late husband Harry Harpham was MP. Ukip came second.

Labour’s share of the vote went up 5.8%. Ukip came second, but their share of the vote was down 2.2%. And the Conservatives, who came fourth behind the Lib Dems, saw their share of the vote fall by 5.4%.

Here is an article by my colleague Frances Perraudin about the contest:

Furniss is delivering her acceptance speech now. She says Harpham would have wanted her to stand. And she recalls his last words in the Commons to David Cameron: enough of these crocodile tears, it is time for action.

Updated

This is from the Mark Reckless, the former Ukip MP who is standing as a candidate for the party in Wales.

I think we have got a quarter of the vote in Newport East

— Mark Reckless (@MarkReckless) May 6, 2016

In the tradition of H’Angus the Monkey – aka former Hartlepool mayor Stuart Drummond – the voters of Cannock Chase have rewarded the man behind a local team’s mascot.

Paul Woodhead, beloved of fans of Hednesford as ‘Pitman Pete’, has made a breakthrough for the Green party in elections for Cannock Chase district council, beating a former Ukip general election candidate in the process.

Woodhead is also in with a shout tomorrow as a candidate in the counting for the local Police and Crime and Commissioner.

His result in Hednesford South was based on a concerted Green push in an area where the party organisation is just over a year old, anc comes after leader Natalie Bennett spent time on the doorsteps with him.

A focus on “community” was also key, says Woodhead, who said that he believed that he took voters from Labour, Tories and other parties.

Paul Woodhead (Hednesford Town's "Pitman Pete") wins a Cannock seat for the Greens (beating UKIP's 2015 Westmin cand pic.twitter.com/iTUAbZ9iUQ

— Ben Quinn (@BenQuinn75) May 6, 2016

New ground / new model for Green Party local election campaigns? Paul Woodhead on his successful Cannock campaignhttps://t.co/XKfV2eVLRu

— Ben Quinn (@BenQuinn75) May 6, 2016

This is from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Labour has lost a ward in Bury with a high Jewish population, swing away from the party more than 20 percent it sounds like

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 6, 2016

This is from the BBC’s Tim Hammond.

John Curtice on Hamilton - 9% swing from LAB to CON which if replicated elsewhere would put parties neck and neck in Scotland #SP16

— Tim Hammond (@timhammo) May 6, 2016

Watson says it is too early to say election results are all Corbyn's responsibility

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has been at the byelection count for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough. Asked by the Guardian whether he thought it would be fair to use tonight’s results to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of Corbyn’s leadership, he said that you couldn’t draw “deep conclusions” about a person’s leadership from election results.

I mean, yes, it’s a snap shot of public opinion and, yes, you have to hear what people are telling you on the doorstep, but I don’t think that eight months in you can reasonably think that these set of results are solely down to Jeremy Corbyn.

Watson said that although Labour would learn lessons from the results, they would need to take time to do so. “If we do lose council seats then I genuinely what to hear from the councillors who lost their seats about what voters were telling them,” he said, adding that he would be surprised if Jeremy Corbyn was a factor in any losses.

The MP for West Bromwich East said of Labour MPs preparing to use the results to criticise the party’s leader:

I think people see that for what it is.

What I’m trying to do as deputy leader is bring people with very different views of the world, who represent many different traditions within the Labour party – be it the social democratic tradition or the classically socialist tradition – bring them together in a culture of mutual respect where their ideas can be shared, where people’s differing views are respected and that difference understood. And I just say to people, if you display intolerance and disrespect for each other, then that just has the worst effect.

We’re at the Life Centre in Plymouth for the city council count. In this rare Labour redoubt in the south-west, it’s unbelievably close: Labour run the council with 28 seats to the Tories’ 26 (with Ukip on 3), so if a single seat changes hands, they’re in trouble.

The council leader is Tudor Evans, who was recently voted council leader of the year (as well as being awarded the OBE). He’s a highly-rated and very creative politician in charge of a “co-operative council” who have parried austerity by growing social enterprises and overseeing ambitious regeneration – and he’s much admired by national Labour figures. But though he won’t be drawn on whether Labour’s recent national travails recently are going to be a problem, he’s very open about how nervous he is tonight.

There may also be a rogue element at work which could send everything haywire. People are whispering here about the EU referendum pushing up the Ukip vote, with unpredictable consequences – which may or may not include Tory losses.

You can see the full story – including tonight’s Plymouth result – in an Anywhere But Westminster Guardian video that will appear at around midday on Friday.

Tudor Evans

Updated

Plenty of whispers and possible-verging-on-confident predictions for Scottish seats on Twitter right now; of course, for many parties expectations were not particularly high. The Lib Dems are already celebrating the first Holyrood win of the night, in Orkney – could they see more?

Liberal Democrats confident of winning Shetland.

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

Liberal Democrats are saying they have... GAINED North East Fife constituency from the SNP.

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016

Lib Dems think Willie Rennie may have the beating of the SNP in North East Fife. Would be extraordinary if true.

— David Clegg (@davieclegg) May 6, 2016

Looks like it's going to be a night of recovery for the LibDems. #sp16

— Alan Roden (@AlanRoden) May 6, 2016

Labour meanwhile has high hopes in Edinburgh Southern (home to its sole Westminster MP, Ian Murray):

Labour source says they are 95 per cent confident they will win Edinburgh Southern #jpvote

— Ian Swanson (@ianswansonen) May 6, 2016

And my colleague Libby Brooks says Glasgow may be experiencing a greenish tinge:

1/2 We're hearing things are looking good for Greens list-wise in Glasgow...

— Libby Brooks (@libby_brooks) May 6, 2016

David Mundell, the Conservative Scottish secretary, has just told the BBC that he is “very confident” of his party coming second in the Scottish elections.

My colleague Steven Morris has more on the contests in Cardiff.

It’s too close to the call in Cardiff North and Cardiff Central. Both were held by Labour going into this election, North by Julie Morgan, wife of former first minister Rhodri Morgan, and South by Jenny Rathbone. The Tories have their sights set on Cardiff North following a good victory in the constituency at last year’s general election.

Cardiff Central is the most marginal seat in Wales won by a majority of just 38 last time. The Lib Dems hope this could be one ray of sunshine in what is likely to be a miserable night in Wales for them.

Both counts are taking place in the Sport Wales National Centre beside Sophia Gardens. One catch – the counts are taking place in separate rooms, two floors apart. There are lots of activists – and journalists – huffing and puffing up and down stairs.

Not expecting result here for several hours yet.

In Cardiff Julie Morgan, the former MP and wife of Rhodri, the former Welsh first minister, says she is not confident of holding her Cardiff North assembly seat. She said:

I’m not confident. I’m prepared for whatever the result will be. The Cardiff North constituency has changed hands a few times between Labour and the Conservatives in both assembly and parliamentary elections.

The Lib Dems say they have held Shetland in Scotland.

Former MP says Labour's Scottish manifesto was 'self-immolation'

With Labour now facing the loss of its 15 Holyrood constituency seats, Thomas Docherty, the Blairite former MP for Dunfermline and West Fife and is expected to win a Holyrood seat on the Mid Scotland and Fife regional list, attacked Dugdale’s campaign, accusing her of taking the party too far to the left.

He told BBC Scotland there was “a direct correlation” between Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and Scottish Labour’s performance, which he predicted could leave the party at under 20%.

“Someone once said that the 1983 Labour manifesto was the longest suicide note in history; well if you bring that up to date, the manifesto we stood on is self-immolation,” Docherty said.

That was rebutted by the former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, who is facing a tough battle defending his seat of East Lothian against the SNP. “I completely disagree with him,” Gray said. “I think Kezia Dugdale has run a courageous campaign.”

Sports halls the length and breadth of the UK are echoing to the sound of ballot papers being flicked and index fingers being licked (or perhaps they have those miniature sponges):

In Glasgow

Election workers count votes at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
Election workers count votes at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. Photograph: Robert Perry/EPA

In Cardiff

The national assembly election count at the Sport Wales national centre in Cardiff.
The national assembly election count at the Sport Wales national centre in Cardiff. Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

In Basildon

Count staff tackle ballot papers at the Sports Village in Basildon, Essex.
Count staff tackle ballot papers at the Sports Village in Basildon, Essex. Photograph: Hannah McKay/PA

Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt (name sounds familiar) reveals on the BBC’s election blog that he has seen a copy of Labour’s speaking note for party spokespeople tonight.

Leaked: How Labour will explain election results https://t.co/NSs4o8vErY via @BBCNews

— AndrewSparrow (@AndrewSparrow) May 6, 2016

Here is the “line to take” when asked what the party had to say about claims it should be gaining 400 seats or more.

It’s never been a realistic target to talk about hundreds of gains given that the last time these elections were fought, in 2012, Labour’s performance was a high water mark. The results then were Labour’s best in the local elections since those that took place in 2001 on the same day as Blair’s second landslide election. At the end of the day, we should be looking for Labour to advance on the 2015 election results, where we finished almost seven per cent behind the Conservatives.

On the BBC’s election programme John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, was asked about the note. He said there was nothing very secret about it; he probably wrote it, he said.

I’m told that Ukip has taken at least two seats from Labour in Hartlepool – one of them by just two votes. The results are yet to be announced but the two Ukip wins would double overnight their presence on the Labour-dominated council. Labour will say that only two swings to Ukip is not a great return, given the party’s very public pledge to throw everything at the north-east coastal town and take it completely from Labour by 2020. However, I’m told that Ukip has run Labour very close – within 20 votes – in one of its top target seats. “It’s not a win, but it’s a moral victory,” said a Ukip source.

The Local Government Information Unit is providing very detail results coverage on its blog. Jonathan Carr-West, the LGiU chief executive, has put out this statement about the picture so far:

The main focus so far tonight continues to be the Labour vote and what it tells us about Corbyn’s leadership. Many Labour councils who have very different political outlooks from the national leadership may feel aggrieved by this relentless focus on the national: especially if, as is likely, it is costing them votes. This will exacerbate the rift that already exists between a radical leadership and a pragmatic local government base.

So far, Labour are holding safe councils (Newcastle, Liverpool, Sunderland and Halton) – but we expect to see them losing significant numbers of seats as the night progresses. To put this in context, the last time these councils were contested Labour gained 823 seats.

We’re also looking at a Labour wipe out in Scotland and losses in the Welsh assembly. While a Khan victory will be spun as the story of the night, the reality is that no opposition has lost councils seats in this way for 30 years.

Updated

John Curtice is doing the number crunching for the BBC. He told the election programme a few minutes ago that, on the basis of the voting pattern that has emerged so far in Scotland, Labour will lose all its constituency seats. Labour MSPs will only get elected to the Scottish parliament through the regional list system.

The Liberal Democrats were the first party to win a Holyrood seat, when sitting MSP Liam McArthur held one of its only two constituencies in Orkney with a substantial 4,500 vote majority over the SNP.

Liam McArthur
Liam McArthur Photograph: pic taken from scottish lib dems website

McArthur’s victory – increasing his majority by 32%, will boost the Lib Dems, which had been braced for serious damage after the scandal after the islands’ MP, Alistair Carmichael, authorised the leak of government memo wrongly alleging Nicola Sturgeon had wanted a Tory victory in the general election.

That was quickly followed by the first defeat for Labour, after James Kelly failed to hold his seat with the Scottish National party winning with a 3,770 vote majority.

Updated

John Ferrett, the Labour leader on Portsmouth council, has said that Jeremy Corbyn has been a “disaster” for the party, according to the BBC’s Peter Henley.

Portsmouth Labour Leader John Ferret "Jeremy Corbyn is a disaster for us, he is incompetent, incapable of giving the leadership we need"

— Peter Henley (@BBCPeterH) May 5, 2016

On the BBC election programme Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has been asked about this. He said that he followed Ferret on Twitter and that Ferret had been saying things like this for ages.

Watson may be right. Here is a Ferrett tweet from two days ago.

Surely in the history of the Labour Party it has never looked so weak and broken as it does right now #PMQs

— Cllr John Ferrett (@John_Ferrett) May 4, 2016

And here are two of his tweets from tonight.

What is clear here in Portsmouth is that the #UKIP threat to Labour has not gone away #corbyneffect

— Cllr John Ferrett (@John_Ferrett) May 5, 2016

Labour vote is collapsing to UKIP in Portsmouth #corbyneffect

— Cllr John Ferrett (@John_Ferrett) May 5, 2016

Hearing that UKIP has taken a Labour seat by just *two* votes in Hartlepool (cc @AndrewSparrow)

— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) May 6, 2016

On Sky News Michael Thrasher, the election specialist who is in charge of their number crunching tonight, said it looked as if Labour could become the first opposition to lose council seats in an election like this for 30 years. He said:

Their vote share is not doing at all well. If you look in the detail, their vote has fallen quite markedly in some strong Labour areas. And although they have taken seats from the Liberal Democrats in Newcastle the performance of Ukip in Labour wards was pretty impressive. So this is not really the performance of an opposition party which has recovered from its defeat in 2015. It doesn’t show very much sense in which it is able to recover that ground. And we may well be looking at the end of the day at a party that has lost ground in terms of local council seats, which would be the first time that has happened to an opposition party in 30 years.

The Ukip leader Nigel Farage says his party is eating into the Labour vote tonight.

Strong performances for UKIP in the North East, hearing we could breakthrough in Hartlepool.

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 5, 2016

It's clear tonight that we in UKIP are eating into the Old Labour vote in a big way.https://t.co/pM6fPdd9A6

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 5, 2016

The Lib Dems have held the Orkney Island constituency in Scotland, with a 16% swing from the SNP to the Lib Dems, the BBC reports.

Simon Danczuk is in a bullish mood at the Rochdale count. Though no longer officially representing the Labour party, he is in team colours, wearing a red tie and accompanied by a new aide in a slinky red dress (not his ex wife Karen, who he re-employed, to some controversy, a few weeks back).

The currently Independent MP has been the subject of many a Liberal Democrat leaflet in the Greater Manchester town in recent weeks, with Lib Dems talking up their chances of winning back seats in the local election. They ran the town hall until 2010 but now have just one councillor. That’s Andy Kelly, who says he will be lonely no more after one of his comrades looks to have won the Milnrow and Newhey ward from Labour.

Simon Danczuk
Simon Danczuk Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Kelly insists that the unifying factor on Rochdale’s doorsteps is a distain for Danczuk’s behaviour, including but not limited to the sexing scandal which led to his suspension from the Labour party in December. The suggestion receives short shrift from Danczuk, who scoffs: “If they think that then why aren’t they voting for the Lib Dems in droves, rather than in just one more ward? Some comeback that is. For all their negative campaigning, what have they got to show for it? One extra seat. That’s all they can do. The people of Rochdale have seen through them.”

Before polling began on Thursday the constitution of Rochdale council was 48 Labour 11 Conservative 1 Liberal Democrat. With just 20 seats up for grabs, it is highly unlikely Labour will lose control.

Updated

Labour MP Mike Gapes says it would be 'very bad' for party to be losing council seats

On Twitter the Labour MP Mike Gapes says that for Labour to be losing seats tonight in the council elections would be “very bad”.

Labour losing seats in first year of opposition after Tory fiasco of recent weeks is very bad where is Straight talking, honest politics ?

— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) May 5, 2016

Gapes may be ahead of the facts. Our tracker has Labour currently with a net gain of three seats.

McDonnell says Labour expected to fall back from 2012 'high point'

On the BBC’s election programme Huw Edwards asked John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, how he would respond to the claim that Labour should be gaining council seats in these elections, not losing them. McDonnell claimed it was not as simple as that. He said:

I think it’s more complex. Scotland is really complex. We’re at the early stages of Labour rebuilding. We got wiped out in the general election. We’ve only got one parliamentary seat left. So Scotland is extremely complex. I think the SNP is still in the honeymoon post-referendum where they took a clear position and the other parties were divided.

Wales, 17 years, it is inevitable we will fall back a bit, as long as we retain control.

In terms of the mayoral elections, if we take a majority of those, I think that will be a success, but again it is complex as well.

I think the local government elections themselves, high point in 2012, you would expect it to fall back. But the test for me really will be, in the last general election we were about seven points behind the Conservatives. In September we were 14 points behind. So we are making up ground.

Some of Corbyn’s Labour critics were saying before tonight that Labour should be gaining around 300 or 400 seats. They cited figures showing that since 1980 Labour has on average gained 300 seats in local council elections in years when it has been in opposition and that it has only lost seats twice in these elections in years when it has been in opposition, in 1982 and 1985.

Jeremy Corbyn arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in Islington.
Jeremy Corbyn arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in Islington. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

A Labour source who wouldn’t be described as a Corbynite has been in touch tonight to object to the notion that 2012 was as high point for Labour. He said Labour’s high point was in 1996, when it had 10,929 councillors. Today it has 6,875. “We are nowhere near our peak,” he told me.

Updated

It was headline news last year when Shane Moore, then deputy leader of the local Conservative group in Hartlepool, defected to Ukip. Tonight he’s trying to unseat a Labour councillor in an all-Labour ward, in what would be a huge win for the Eurosceptic party and usher one of its key local lieutenants on to Hartlepool council.

Moore said he quit the Tories because “the leadership locally weren’t Conservatives as far as I was concerned and they weren’t acting in the best interests of the Conservatives”. He also said he’s fighting to change a mindset in the north-east of “I’m voting Labour because my dad did”. Listen to the full interview here.

Audio: Ukip's Shane Moore in Hartlepool https://t.co/PaadLQmuGW via @audioBoom

— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) May 5, 2016

Updated

I’ve just had my first election night brush-off from a Ukip candidate.

If the predictions are correct, Gareth Bennett will be among the first intake of Ukip members in the Welsh assembly. He attracted headlines during the campaign for criticising the multiracial character of Cardiff and blamed “unhygienic” eastern Europeans for rubbish problems in the capital.

As he walked into the count in Cardiff, the BBC asked him for an interview, which he declined. Asked if he would speak to the Guardian, he replied: “Definitely not”, and headed for the canteen.

The Welsh assembly prides itself on its friendly, civilised debates – though some argue this makes the process too sterile. Ukip may shake that up.

Updated

Labour are saying the Tories have left the count in Delyn, a Labour/Tory marginal which Labour say the Tories had been hoping to win.

You can read the results as they come in here, on our results tracker.

On Newsnight Andrew Boff, the Conservative leader on the Greater London assembly, also said that the Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign had “done real damage” and had “blown up” bridges the Conservative party had built with London’s Muslim communities.

I mentioned that I thought this was a mistake for future integration in London. If you are a London politician this is just a bizarre thing to do.

The electoral fate of two Scottish party leaders, Kez Dugdale for Labour and Ruth Davidson for the Tories, will be decided in Edinburgh, where the first ballot papers for the city’s six constituency seats are now being counted at the Royal Highland Showground. Edinburgh is where several of the most interesting Scottish contests take place.

Dugdale is bidding to regain Edinburgh Eastern for Labour and Ruth Davidson to win Edinburgh Central; these contests have extra resonance as the polls suggest Davidson could make history by pushing Labour into third place for the first time in a Scottish election for 100 years.

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale and her partner Louise Riddell arrive at St Ninian & Triduana RC Church to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections.
Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale and her partner Louise Riddell arrive at St Ninian & Triduana RC Church to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Both leaders are assured of Lothian regional lists seats if they fail to win constituencies. The polls imply the SNP will hold both, but the SNP is facing battles to hold Edinburgh Southern against Labour and Edinburgh Western against the Lib Dems.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Green party could take two of the region’s seven list seats – if they succeed in persuading large enough numbers of SNP voters to back them on their second, list vote.

Updated

Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, has been seeking to dampen down expectations a little, saying that the Labour party is proceeding from a “high watermark”.

Asked if Labour was in for a bad night, he told BBC West Midlands:

I hope not. We have very good candidates. We are proceeding from a high watermark. Four years ago we did very well in these elections.

Now, having said that. At this stage in a parliament we would hope to make further gains and to have what we hold.

Updated

Tory leader on London assembly says Zac Goldsmith's campaign was 'outrageous'

One of the things that makes election night interesting is that fact that, once the polls close, politicians often feel free to say all the things they have been bottling up during the campaign. As I reported earlier, we have already seen evidence of a Labour inquest into Jeremy Corbyn’s performance getting underway in public. (See 11.48pm.) But the Tories are at it too. This is what Andrew Boff, leader of the Conservative group on the Greater London assembly, told Newsnight about the way Zac Goldsmith’s campaign has been conducted.

Well, I don’t think it was a dog whistle because you can’t hear a dog whistle. Everybody could hear this. It was effectively saying that people of conservative, religious views are not to be trusted and you should not share a platform with them. That’s outrageous.

Leader of Tory GLA #BackZac "I don’t think it’s dog whistle coz you can’t hear a dog whistle. Everyone cd hear this" https://t.co/daKmYDudlF

— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) May 5, 2016

Labour MP Neil Coyle says party is moving 'further away from government'

The first council results are starting to trickle in – the Local Government information Unit has very thorough ward-by-ward results coverage here – but already a Labour party inquest is getting underway. On Newsnight Neil Coyle, the Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said his party was moving “further away from government” and that it “shouldn’t be losing seats, it’s as simple as that”. He told the programme:

The problem we seem to be seeing is we are moving further away from government, and we are moving further away from government, I think, because we seem to be fixated on some issues that are peripheral and we seem to have a team which isn’t projecting either unity within the party or a vision and policies that the voters want.

He said that he was not part of an anti-Corbyn “coup”, but that he regretted nominating Corbyn for the leadership. Corbyn needed to expand his inner circle, Coyle said.

There is a core team that seem unable to get out of a mindset that ‘They are out to get us’. This isn’t about a coup. I’m here because I want a Labour prime minister and a Labour government and these results look like they are setting us back from that.

There need to be more people in that team who don’t share exactly one vision on unilateralism or whatever. We need more people there who are able to say what the platform needs to be on housing, for example, and who are able to say we can’t just have an anti-Tory agenda which says we are not for the rich, we are only for a certain group in society.

I am hearing from colleagues, MPs and councillors across the country saying how bad it is in certain areas. I think there will be a frustration.

Labour MP @coyleneil tells #Newsnight Lab top team needs more diversity so they don't all share one vision. https://t.co/apssi8Lzii

— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) May 5, 2016

Updated

Crawley council is a red speck in a sea of blue in the south-east, and Labour are fighting to keep control of the council tonight, where they have a majority of just one seat.

The balance has swung between the two main parties over the past 10 years, with the Tories taking the council for the first time in more than three decades in 2006, and strengthening their lead until the Tory win at national level.

Support fell, with steady losses of seats until Labour clinched a majority in 2014. But that majority fell to just one last year, and Tories here have high hopes of seizing back the council, against the trend that has previously spelt better fortunes for the party not in No 10.

The current MP is Conservative, Henry Smith, but in recent years it has been the opposite, a Labour MP and a Conservative council, showing how delicate the balance of power here is.

The council elects a third of its seats at a time. Today, 13 seats are up for contention, with Labour defending eight and the Tories five.

We’re expecting counting to get under way about midnight, after the verification process for the police and crime commissioner elections.

Officials say they are hoping for a result around 3am, but if some wards are close, there may well be recounts.

#Crawley count is at the K2 leisure centre, though won't get underway for a couple of hours. Result expected at 3ish pic.twitter.com/EhwlhMAjKC

— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) May 5, 2016

Updated

Watson says Corbyn should be given more time to stage Labour's recovery

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, told Sky News a few minutes ago that Jeremy Corbyn should be given more time to allow the party to recover:

I think this game of trying to predict whether it is a success or a failure on whether you win 100 seats or lose 100 seats is slightly unnecessary tonight. Jeremy has only been the leader of the Labour party for eight months. He has taken his party back from a very low base, one of our worst every election defeats a year ago this month. He was 14 points behind the Tories when he took over as leader. So we’ve got a long way to go. And I think most people would recognise you can’t consolidate your position in only eight months.

Updated

This is from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

interesting nugget, in one key ward in Sunderland, UKIP vote was 29%

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 5, 2016

A Lib Dem councillor on Stockport council has defected to Labour, Labour HQ is saying.

If the ITV poll proves accurate it won’t be a terrible night for Labour in Wales – but would be an excellent one for Ukip.

Labour, which has governed since the first assembly in 1999, went into the election holding 30 of the assembly’s 60 seats. If it does end up with 27 this time it may well form a minority government, probably making deals with Plaid Cymru, which is projected to win 12 seats, to get its budget and programme through.

That won’t be straightforward – Labour has worked with the Welsh nationalists in coalition in the past but relations are frosty at the moment.

Stephen Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon, said it was a “very strong result” that showed the Welsh Labour leader, Carwyn Jones, was the only serious candidate for first minister.

The Panama Papers and the steel crisis centred on Port Talbot have made this a tough campaign for the Conservatives. They are projected to fall from 14 to 11 seats in the poll. The Lib Dems may only get two seats if the poll is accurate – from five last time.

Ukip used to call for the abolition of the assembly but it appears to have become the party of protest in Wales and will almost certainly win seats tonight. Former Tory MPs Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless are standing. If it does win eight, as projected, it will fundamentally change the shape and feel of the assembly.

Updated

A Labour source in Wales points out that the party has been running a minority administration in the assembly and says that, if the ITV poll turns out to be accurate, that would constitute “a decent result for us and certainly one that any or all of the other parties would give their hind teeth for”.

Could low turnout spell bad news for Labour in the ‘bellwether’ district council elections of Cannock Chase?

The ballot boxes have arrived and verification is underway here at the count centre, where 13 of the District Council’s 41 seats are up for grabs.

Labour currently holds power with 22 seats, and while its local activists are quietly confident, Ukip is looking to build on the five seats it holds after emerging in recent years locally. A good performance for the Tories, who have 11 seats, in addition to a challenge from the Greens could potentially result in Labour losing control if it’s a bad night for the party.

I’m told that the turnout has been quite low. Some here suggest that the party that’s most likely to suffer as a result is Jeremy Corbyn’s party, although activists earlier in the day said that the good weather should help gets its vote out.

Labour is not expecting to win any constituency seats in Glasgow, it has emerged. This is from the BBC’s Nick Eardley.

Reports Labour do not expect to hold on to any constituencies in Glasgow tonight

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) May 5, 2016

Glasgow used to be solidly Labour, and even in 2011, when the SNP won a majority in the Scottish parliament, Labour retained four of the nine Glasgow Scottish parliament constituencies. But in 2014 Glasgow voted for independence and, if the early news from the count is right, Labour is making little or no progress in getting those voters back from the SNP. I’m told Labour figures at the count are describing it as a “car crash”.

As my colleague Heather Stewart writes in her election results preview story, different factions in the Labour party have different views as to what would constitute a good result for the party. Here’s an extract:

Corbyn’s team insist that the vote share in the 2015 general election is the right baseline from which to judge whether they are making progress, arguing that the last time these council seats were contested, under Ed Miliband’s leadership in 2012, was a “high-water mark”. But the leader’s critics say he should be getting hundreds of gains.

Alison McGovern, chair of the Blairite Progress group of MPs, said: “We shouldn’t be losing any councils. Labour is providing real leadership in the face of grim Tory incompetence and austerity. We can’t afford to start losing that.”

Updated

In Hartlepool, the Labour-dominated council is said to be feeling the heat from a resurgent campaign by Ukip. The Eurosceptic party has had the north-east coastal town in its crosshairs for years, and in last year’s general election was just 3,000 votes away from unseating the incumbent Labour MP, Iain Wright.

Tonight Ukip is looking to add to its two councillors on the ward, currently dominated by 22 Labour seats. It has fielded candidates in each of tonight’s 11 wards up for contention – a first in Hartlepool, possibly in the north-east – but one seat in particular is said to be firmly in its sights: that of Christopher Akers-Belcher, the council leader (whose partner, Stephen, could also lose his seat tonight).

I’ve just interviewed Akers-Belcher, who insists he is “quietly confident” of retaining his seat tonight but admits that Ukip could win two seats in other wards. He described Ukip’s campaign in Hartlepool as “scattergun” and said they “don’t have the confidence of the people of Hartlepool”. Listen to the full interview here:

Audio: Hartlepool council leader in UKIP's crosshairs https://t.co/ZPusJm6xsN via @audioBoom

— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) May 5, 2016

To recap: seven of the 11 seats up for grabs in Hartlepool are Labour, two are from the Putting Hartlepool First party, one is a Tory seat and the other is independent.

Updated

Labour set to lose three seats in Welsh assembly, poll suggests

The ITV Wales poll is out. Here are the figures.

Wales Poll
Wales Poll Photograph: ITV

Journalists have been describing this as an exit poll - I used the term earlier - but as some readers have pointed out, technically that’s wrong. An exit poll involves asking people outside polling stations how they voted. ITV are describing this as an “on-the-day” poll.

As I predicted earlier, these figures for overall seats numbers are the same as those produced by the poll published earlier this week. (See 10.09pm.)

John McDonnell says narrowing the gap between Labour and Tories would signify progress

And this is what John McDonnell on Sky News said about Labour’s challenge in today’s elections. He is saying that, as long as Labour narrow the gap that existed between them and the Tories at the general election (seven points), they will be making progress.

We were virtually seven points behind the Tories literally only 10 months ago in the general election. And if we can narrow that gap, which I think we will, we will demonstrate steady progress. We’ve got four years before the next general election. I think what we will do is move steadily towards a victory in 2020, and this could be narrowing that gap.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, told Sky News a few minutes ago that he hoped Andy Burnham would stay on in the shadow cabinet and become home secretary in a Labour government rather than stand for mayor in Greater Manchester. But he said he could see why Burnham was tempted by the job.

And while we’re on the subject of managing expectations, here is an extract from the note the Lib Dems have just sent out to journalists setting out their take on today’s elections:

The task of turning things around after last year is gargantuan, but it’s under way and we are hoping to see some progress. We are realistic though, the loss last year was so catastrophic it will be incredibly difficult.

This is a test for Corbyn regardless of what they brief. Labour have been crowing about the thousands of people flocking to their new movement and this is their first test. If they go backwards, the voters will have seen them for the ineffectual opposition they are

Regardless of the Conservative’s result tonight, it is a simple prelude to the referendum which is about to tear the Tory Government apart.

Updated

Political parties spend a lot of time before elections like tonight’s trying to manage expectations. In this candid and amusing blog, Theo Bertram, who was a Labour adviser under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, explains how it’s done.

Updated

My colleague Severin Carrell is at the Royal Highland showground at Ingliston, where the Edinburgh constituencies and the Lothian regional seats are being counted. Here’s the scene.

For live #Holyrood2016 count updates tonight from #Glasgow and #Edinburgh, follow @libby_brooks and @severincarrell pic.twitter.com/p1UnNEik5T

— Guardian Scotland (@GdnScotland) May 5, 2016

Labour is nervous about how it will do in the local elections because the seats being contested today were last up for election in 2012, when the party under Ed Miliband was polling particularly well. The 2012 local elections took place shortly after George Osborne’s disastrous “omnishambles” budget and at the time Labour was ahead of the Tories in national opinion polls by almost 10 points.

Current polls give a mixed picture but generally they have been showing the Tories ahead, and on that basis there are predictions that Labour will lose seats tonight. I’m aware of two academic forecasts that are worth flagging up.

Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher are politics professors who specialise in local elections and they have produced a forecast for what will happen tonight based on how the parties have been performing in recent council byelections. The figures were set out in this briefing for the Political Studies Association (pdf). Here they are:

Conservatives: +50

Labour: -150

Lib Dems: +40

Ukip: +40

Another academic, Stephen Fisher, has also tried forecasting what tonight’s results will be, using a model based on how opinion polls have shifted since the seats were last contested. He explains his approach in this blog, and his figures are here, alongside the Rallings and Thrasher ones for comparison.

Steve Fisher’s local election forecast
Steve Fisher’s local election forecast Photograph: Steve Fisher

Updated

Many people have written “what to expect” preview guides ahead of tonight’s elections. One of the best ones is this one by John Curtice, the psephologist who was in charge of the team that produced the BBC’s highly successful general election exit poll, for the IPPR magazine Juncture. Here’s an extract:

There are then two crucial features to the political backdrop to this year’s elections. First, most of the contests were previously held when Labour was doing reasonably well in the polls – and indeed, with the exception of the London mayoral and Scottish parliament elections, this was broadly reflected in the party’s performance at the ballot box. This was especially true of the local elections in 2012. The BBC’s projection of these results into a Britain-wide election vote suggested that Labour’s performance was worth 38% of the vote, enough to put the party 7 points ahead of the Conservatives. It was easily the party’s best performance in any of the annual rounds of local elections held during the last parliament.

Consequently, Jeremy Corbyn faces a relatively demanding electoral test at a time when many are looking to see if he ‘fails’. Even if Labour were to enjoy some recovery from its position a year ago, the party would still suffer net losses. Indeed, simply repeating its performance locally in last year’s local elections would see the party lose control of Dudley, Cannock Chase, Crawley, Redditch, Rossendale and Southampton. This set of losses would undoubtedly be regarded by Corbyn’s critics as evidence that he had lost the plot in middle England – but in fact they may simply be an indication that the party was previously just treading water.

Updated

Andy Burnham considering standing for mayor of Greater Manchester next year

Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary and at one time the favourite to win the Labour leadership contest last summer, has announced that he is considering standing for mayor of Greater Manchester next year. The Press Association has filed this:

The shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, is considering standing to be the mayor of Greater Manchester.

The former Labour leadership contender has yet to decide whether to seek the role when it comes up for election in 2017, his spokesman said.

Burnham, who was comprehensively defeated by Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for the Labour leadership in 2015, intends to remain a member of the shadow cabinet even if he does seek the role.

A spokesman for Burnham said: “Approaches have been made to Andy Burnham to give consideration to this role.

“It is early days and no decision has been taken. Whatever the decision, he will continue to serve the leader of the party and stay in the shadow cabinet.”

Obviously, if he were to stand for this post, he would have to stand down from the shadow cabinet. But, as Boris Johnson has shown, being a mayor would not necessarily prevent a return to national politics at some point in the future.

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Updated

Polls have closed. Unusually for “local” election night we’ve got an exit poll - in Wales.

POLLS ARE CLOSED. There is a Welsh on-the-day poll by YouGov for ITV and the University of Cardiff expected at around 10:30

— NumbrCrunchrPolitics (@NCPoliticsUK) May 5, 2016

It would be surprising if the figures turn out to be much different from this Welsh poll published earlier this week. It suggested Labour would lose three seats, going down to 27 in the Welsh assembly. As the academic Roger Scully explained, it suggested the assembly would end up looking like this.

Labour: 27 seats (25 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 12 seats (6 constituency seats + 6 list seats)

Conservatives: 11 seats (7 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 8 seats (8 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 2 seats (2 constituency seats)

The #SuperThursday hashtag never did quite take off, but nevertheless polls are closing in a quite remarkable cluster of elections. We’ve had devolved parliament/assembly elections four times before, and London mayor elections four times before, but we’ve never had them taking place in the same year. Given that London is on a four-year cycle and the devolved bodies have moved to a five-year cycle, we may not get another overlap until 2036.

On top of that we’ve also got English council elections, police and crime commissioner election, and assorted other electoral contests. For reference, here is a full list of the elections taking place:

  • London mayor - Labour’s Sadiq Khan and Conservative Zac Goldsmith are fighting to succeed Boris Johnson.
  • London assembly - All 25 seats in the assembly are up for grabs.
  • Scottish parliament - All 129 seats are being contested in an election that will decide whether the SNP remains in government, Nicola Sturgeon remains first minister, and Labour retains its status as the biggest opposition party.
  • Welsh assembly - All 60 seats are being contested. Labour has half the seats in the assembly now, but the polls suggest it could lose ground, and Ukip could get elected to the assembly for the first time.
  • English councils - Around 2,750 seats are being contested in 124 councils (58 Labour, 39 Conservative, 4 Lib Dem and 23 no overall control)
  • Northern Ireland assembly - All 108 seats in the assembly are being contested, allocated by the single transferable vote PR system. The DUP and Sinn Féin are expected to remain as the largest two parties.
  • Police and crime commissioners - 41 police force areas in England and Wales are electing a PCC, for only the second time. The first elections, in November 2012, attracted a derisory 15% turnout.
  • Three other mayoral elections - As well as London, there are mayoral elections in Liverpool, Bristol and Salford.
  • Two parliamentary byelections - In Ogmore, where Labour’s Huw Irranca-Davies has stood down so he can stand for the Welsh assembly, and in Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, where the former MP, Labour’s Harry Harpham, died in February.

With help from colleagues, I will be blogging throughout the night as the results come in and all day tomorrow. The last big British result to come in on Friday will be the London mayoral one, which with luck we will get by early evening. Counting in Northern Ireland (where the electoral system is particularly complicated) is expected to continue into the weekend.

My colleague Rowena Mason has a table setting out what time the main results are expected to come in.

As well as the results, we will be focusing here on reaction and analysis. As usual with local and devolved elections, people will be trying to interpret them through the prism of Westminster and asking what they mean for David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn. In particular, in the light of Labour’s recent difficulties, there will be intense debate about whether the results are good/bad/disastrous for the party etc. There will probably be a lot of comment about that here.

But that is why it is worth stressing right at the start that, although these contests will tell us something about the Westminster battle, there is a limit to how much. As a recent Guardian editorial argued, politics in Scotland and Wales is now quite divorced from London. It explained:

In spite of the fact that Labour has always had a more nationalist stance in Wales than in Scotland, the party is in historic decline in Wales too. It may lose seats, though not on a Scottish scale. A Labour-led coalition or Labour minority government seems a likely outcome.

Yet this would not be a solid guide to politics in other parts of the UK either. Scottish politics, like those in Northern Ireland, now bear no relation to politics elsewhere. Welsh politics is neither a west British version of what is happening in England nor a minor key variation of the nationalist mood in Scotland. Even English politics is fractured, most obviously between London and elsewhere, but also in other ways. Post-industrial Britain is a disunited kingdom. And it increasingly has politics to match.

English council elections are a slightly more reliable guide as to what might happen at the next general election, but only up to a point. Governing parties can do very badly in local elections and still go on to win (according to one count, Labour was nine points behind the Tories in national vote share in 2000), but it is hard to find evidence of opposition parties going on to form a government if they do badly in the locals.

To catch up on what’s been happening earlier, including the fiasco in Barnet where hundreds of voters were turned away from polling stations this morning because the wrong paperwork had been issued, do take a look at our live blog covering today’s events.

If you want to follow me or get in touch on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Updated

Contributors

Andrew Sparrow and Matthew Weaver

The GuardianTramp

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