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1am: By now more than a dozen English councils should have declared, and the first Welsh results should be in. Around 3am: The BBC should have enough results to be able to produce a projected national share of the vote. Things are getting testy in Bradford, where George Galloway's Respect party is challenging the political establishment in 12 out of the 30 wards up for grabs. I have just spoken to her brother, Farrukh Haroon, who has been helping the Respect campaign. Haroon says he and his cousin had been driving up and down the Drummond Road with a megaphone, shouting Respect slogans "and saying stuff about Labour's support for the war" when they attracted the attention of some Labour supporters outside the primary school.
But in their briefing for the Political Studies Association (pdf), Rallings and Thrasher say two things could stop Labour reaching the 700 target. First, the Tories could benefit from the Lib Dem collapse in the south as a result of tactical voting unwinding. This is what the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is saying about Reading in its list of 50 key councils to watch. Labour run a minority administration and will hope to strengthen their position by making the 4 gains they need for an outright majority.
Another of the few areas in the East of England where Labour is competitive, the Conservatives currently hold the council with a vulnerable 1 seat majority. Labour candidates and workers are sounding chipper as they wait for the votes to be counted at the Splott leisure centre and library.
Chris Lomax, who is standing in nearby Grangetown believes Labour can take all three seats in the ward from the Liberal Democrats, who have been running Cardiff council. Morgan Hart, an agent for Lib Dem candidate Liz Musa in Butetown, is also impressed with the work Labour has put in.
Gavin Cox, who has been a Lib Dem councillor in the Splott ward for eight years, says from what he has seen turnout has been no better than four years ago – which he hopes could be good news for him if it means Labour has not got its vote out.
Birmingham was one of the cities that was expected to actually vote yes to having an elected mayor. The fall in turnout is likely to be particularly steep in Scotland, but that's because the last local elections in Scotland coincided with elections to the Scottish parliament. Not to be outdone, the Tories are now saying Labour need to win 800 seats to be doing well. The Conservative Party are currently at a high watermark in terms of seats, defending almost half of those up for election in England. The Liberal Democrats tend to do better in local elections than their poll rating would suggest.
The Tories tell me that even if they do as well as they did in the 2010 general election, they will still lose 200 seats and five councils. In the early days of the general election and the coalition, it's easy to forget that even though we increased our vote share [in 2010], we actually lost a number of councillors that night too, and we lost MPs.
Lots of hustle and bustle in the hanger-like Liverpool tennis centre on the outskirts of the city where the count to discover who will be Liverpool's first elected mayor is well under way. Early indications show no surprises, with Joe Anderson, the Labour candidate and current leader of the council expected to win by what may be a landslide. The Bradford elections turned ugly in the final hours of campaigning, with police receiving reports of harassment, intimidation and violence from all sides.
The Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford South, David Ward, has made a formal complaint to police after allegedly being "harassed and intimidated" by campaigners for George Galloway's Respect party. Sunderland said: "It's the sort of behaviour we fought against from the British National Party. A spokesman for Respect denied the allegations and said the party would be making its own police complaint. Secondly there are the shares of the vote or, more accurately, the BBC's projected national share of the vote which is calculated on the night by Professor John Curtice, based upon numerous "key wards" across the country where all three of the main parties are standing both this time and last time the ward was contested, allowing changes in the vote shares to be calculated and built into a picture of what the shares would be if there were elections across the whole country.
One problem, though, is that different psephologists calculated the equivalent national share of the vote in different ways.
This is a straight two way fight between the ruling Conservatives (32 seats) and Labour (25 seats), who are attempting to gain a handful of seats to win control. Streeter said that he wanted David Cameron to be "tougher" with the Lib Dems and to adopt more a more Conservative stance on issues like law and order. As far as I'm aware, he is the first Tory MP to start blaming the leadership for what has happened tonight. She says initially the campaign was all about local issues – potholes, social services, libraries. Joyce was taking nothing for granted but said she and her team were ready to serve if the people of Cardiff voted for them. The Liberal Democrat leader (and council leader) Rodney Berman is to be found at the Pentwyn leisure centre a few miles away, where the Cardiff Central votes are being counted. Latest from John Curtice: Looks as though it will be UKIP's best performance other than when locals on same day as Euros.
I suspect by the end of this election, the Lib Dems will have lost a third of their councillors in just two years.
Nick Clegg was bracing himself for the Liberal Democrats' darkest hour in coalition on Thursday night as he faced the prospect of seeing the party's once mighty local government base shrink to its lowest figure for two decades.
Amid fears that the Lib Dems would be left with fewer than 3,000 councillors, the deputy prime minister was planning to use the next five days for a succession of media appearances in which he will seek to restate the reasons the party is in coalition. Low turn out confirmed here in Liverpool, with just 31.2% of the electorate turning out to vote. The party currently holds 63 of 90 seats, with the Lib Dems on 19, Liberal on three, Green two, independent two and one standing vacant. These are slightly different from the figures they had earlier, when fewer results were in.
Galloway himself is nowhere to be seen: he claims he is boycotting the count because the council would not allow his two longtime aides, Rob Hoveman and Ron McKay to attend.
Respect seem confident of winning at least four seats - in the Manningham and Heaton wards as well as City and Bradford Moor. Welsh shadow secretary Peter Hain says Labour is taking seats from the Lib Dems, Tories and in Plaid Cymru heartlands. No surprise from Liverpool as the Labour candidate, and current leader of the council Joe Anderson, sails to an easy victory taking 57.7% of the vote, with 58,448.
Tony Mulhearn, who was the only candidate fighting on an explicit anti-cuts platform, got less than 5% of the vote. There were ugly scenes right at the death of the Liverpool mayoral count as it was announced that Labour candidate Joe Anderson had taken a comfortable 57.7% of the vote.
Despite cheers for Anderson they continued to shout, but supporters from all mainstream parties gathered around Liverpool first elected mayor and he raised his voice above the commotion.
Against the back drop of continued jeers, and the clapping and shouts of support from his own party members, he added: "The future of this city is a bright one, it is not represented by fascists, these people do not represent this city.


George Galloway's winning streak continued in Bradford on Thursday when five rookie politicians from his Respect party won seats in the city council – including one swiped from the Labour leader of the administration.
Ian Greenwood, who has run the council since 2010 and has been a councillor in Bradford for 17 years, loses his ?50,000 a year job.
In a bruising campaign which resulted in the police being called to address complaints of attacks on all sides, Respect won three other seats from Labour in the city and another from the Conservatives.
The only woman to win a seat for Respect was Ruqayyah Collector, already a veteran campaigner at 28 having led the successful campaign to have the controversial Leeds University lecturer, Professor Frank Ellis, suspended as the University investigated whether he was in breach of the Race RelationsAct.
Before Thursday's election, Bradford city council was run by a minority Labour-led administration. Despite making a few gains from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Labour was denied an overall majority when Greenwood lost Little Horton to Respect.
He's probably got a point, and already there are stories predicting an unusually low turnout. This involves taking results from representative wards and using those figures to work out what the results would have been if there had been local elections in every ward in the country. But, if you want to read up on the elections in the meantime, here is some heavyweight briefing. Salma Yaqoob, leader of Respect, has just tweeted that her brother's car was attacked by "Labour supporters" in the city this afternoon.
The 36-year-old says he was outside the Iqra school polling station in the Manningham area of the city – a ward Respect is confident of winning from Labour – when the alleged attack happened. He claims that they "attacked" the car, yanking off a wing mirror and pulling the keys from the ignition, snapping them into three pieces. From all that we've heard about the turnout, it sounds as if we won't be having a repeat of 2010, when, as the clock struck 10, people in Sheffield and elsewhere were still queuing to get in at some polling stations. It comes from Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, the Plymouth University local elections experts who have virtually cornered the market in local election psephology.
Under this scenario, the Lib Dems could lose 350 seats, and the Tories just 250, they suggest. Under this scenario, the the Tories could lose 350 seats, and the Lib Dems just 250, the experts suggest. They are confident of progress in key areas in the Midlands and the south of England, and particularly in places like Harlow and Reading where they need to win if they want to beat the Tories in 2015, they say. Splott and the surrounding neighbourhoods is a traditional working-class kind of area – tight terrace houses not far from the docks. But in 2007 the use of different voting systems in the two Scottish elections - the locals and the Scottish parliament ones - caused confusion and so the local elections were postponed until 2012 (they should have been last year) to avoid the same problem recurring.
Independent experts say that Labour should gain around 800 seats in these mid-term local elections. Early indications are that there will be no Lib Dem councillors left in Salford after tonight. Their version of expectation management involves telling journalists that they are going to get thrashed.
There are areas we have suffered successive losses, and with that, you lose activists and your lose infrastructure. Again, we are fielding 25% fewer candidates than we did in 2007 (246 this year, 331 in 2007). In the Pitsea ward, Labour won 932 votes, the Tories 564, Ukip 323 - and the Lib Dems just 97.
It is too early yet to make any firm predictions because so few results are in, but the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are both doing their best to downplay expectations.
This would be a serious blow to the government, because Birmingham was one of the 10 cities voting for elected mayors where ministers were reasonably confident of securing a yes.
Jeanette Sunderland, the leader of Bradford Lib Dems, has also given a statement to police claiming to have been assaulted by Respect supporters while out canvassing on Wednesday night. Labour only need to win six seats to win a majority, the Tories say, and they claim that Labour should expect to win in the city because it's a "Labour heartland" - although that's not the way most of us think of Hampshire.
But I've got the BBC's equivalent national share of the vote figures for 2011 in front of me, and here are the figures for tonight, based on what the BBC are saying.
The projection is for the whole country, but it is based only on local elections in England, not the Scottish and Welsh locals and not the mayoral or London Assembly elections.
Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher produce their own figure, which tends to be different from the Curtice one used by the BBC.
If Birmingham had voted yes, he would have left the frontbench to seek selection as Labour's mayoral candidate. This contest is important for both parties to see how they are faring head to head, with the added spice that Plymouth is home to two parliamentary marginals.
He said that voters could understand the Conservative party taking difficult decision, but people expected them to be "competent". The leader of the Labour group on the council, Heather Joyce, is enjoying strong black coffees with her family, friends and supporters at Splott's Star leisure centre and library.
According to reports on Twitter, Martin Vickers, the MP for Cleethorpes, said the party was "not appealing to aspirational Conservatives". As well as almost certainly seeing their candidate become the first elected-mayor of Liverpool, Labour also look set to dominate the city council after today's local elections and could hold 80% of the council seats after tomorrow. They have already won more than 200 seats, and seized control of an extra 10 councils, and early BBC figures suggest they could be on course for winning the equivalent of 39% of the national share of the vote. Gary Streeter, the MP for Devon South West, said Cameron should take a tougher stance with the Lib Dems and pursue more Conservative policies. They say this is significant, because in 2006 David Cameron claimed that victory in the town showed the Conservatives were on the path to power. He says that the Daily Mail has been briefed that Cameron has intervened to ensure that a consultation on internet pornography considers a proposal that would force people to opt in if they want to have the ability to view pornography.
George Galloway may have already claimed victory for two of his 12 candidates (in the City and Bradford Moor wards), but the actual count has barely begun.
His detractors think he is staying away because he has realised Respect will not repeat his byelection success, reasoning that he would not shun an opportunity to hog the limelight.
And they think Bradfordians will follow their advice and vote "yes" in the referendum for an elected mayor.
Labour last had overall control of Birmingham in 2003 and acted as a minority administration until the Tory-Lib Dem partnership was formed in 2004.
But he said Nick Clegg ought to keep working with the Tories and at the time of the next general election the party would have a record to campaign on. Last month he went to Bristol and gave a whole speech on the subject of why directed elected mayors were such a good idea. The Institute for Government did a poll recently, and it showed 38% of the public in favour, and 25% preferring the council leader model. Using the votes that have already been counted to work out what the result would have been if people had been voting all over the country, the BBC have said that Labour's equivalent national share of the vote is 39%.


Gerald Howarth, a defence minister, said Cameron should adopt a more conservative stance on gay marriage. Damian Green, the immigration minister, said Labour's performance was "good, but not spectacularly good". Richard Kemp was first elected to Liverpool council in 1975 and, when I met him two weeks ago when I went to Liverpool to write a live blog about the mayoral contest, he was very confident that he would come second. That shows quite how marginalised the hard left have become in the city since the 1980s, when Mulhearn and his colleague Derek Hatton were leading the city's resistance to Margaret Thatcher.
As the result was given, a small, but vocal, group of National Front supporters - who had caused trouble at the count throughout the night - began chanting and abusing the new mayor. Further south, Labour is winning seats from the Tories, because the Tories are losing votes to UKIP. That's the scenario I warned against last month: a Canada-style divided Right, which allows the Left to win with a minority of the vote. He was defeated by Alyas Karmani, onetime head of race relations for the Welsh Assembly, who these days is a youth worker and an expert on sexual violence.
The resurgent party contested 12 out of the 30 seats up for grabs in the Yorkshire town, hoping to capitalise on Galloway's tumultuous victory in the Bradford West byelection in March. Three votes short of a majority, Labour required help from the trio of Greens on the council to pass key motions. But regular readers will know that we hold it as an article of faith here that there's no such thing as a boring election. In London a YouGov poll shows Boris Johnson ahead of Ken Livingstone by 53% to 47% and in Glasgow some SNP figures are predicting that they will snatch Glasgow from Labour.
I'll be writing blogging here until 6am, and I'll be covering the results in England and Wales. Two children in the back of Haroon's car were "terrified", he says, and one was so frightened he jumped out of the car and tried to run away. They say that Labour would need to win about 700 seats to show that the lead that they enjoy over the Conservatives in the national opinion polls (9 points, according to the very latest YouGov figures) is real. He worked as a baker for 40 years, then re-trained and became a procurement officer in the NHS.
But it means that these will be the first Scottish local elections for 17 years that do not coincide with parliamentary elections of one kind or another. It was when Gordon Brown was at his most unpopular and the Conservatives were riding high in the polls.
Tom Watson's attempt to spin that Labour would only gain 350 seats was always fanciful and has been thoroughly discredited.
Labour have been saying publicly they will take back Cardiff, Wrexham, Swansea and Newport. We are competing in 27 out of 32 council areas (28 in 2007) - This time round we have no candidates in Falkirk, Shetland, Orkney, West Dunbartonshire and Western Isles.
We have three videos of the incident which we are happy to share with police to prove it," said Ron McKay, adding: "This is a complete waste of police time. It probably wasn't very difficult - the Tories only had a majority of one - but Ed Miliband desperately needs to show that he can win seats in the south. According to the Tories, only 8.4% of people voted in the Arboretum ward in Nottingham in this poll. In 2011 the BBC figures were CON 35%, LAB 36%, LDEM 16% (these have been revised slightly since the figures released on the night), in 2010 on general election day they would have been CON 35%, LAB 27%, LDEM 26% – note how the Lib Dems do a bit better and Labour a bit worse than the general election vote on the same day.
He also said George Osborne should have used the budget to cut fuel duty, not the 50p top rate of tax. The early figures also suggest the Tories are heading for just 31% of the national share of the vote. He was basing his claim on rough tallies produced during the verification process, when the number of ballot papers are counted to ascertain the turnout. Instead he was beaten by Liam Fogarty, a well-respected independent who led the campaign for the city to have a mayor. He really has to listen to how it's affecting very vulnerable people, especially those here in the south west. According to John Curtice, where UKIP gets above ten per cent, the Conservative vote falls by five per cent. People have been voting all over Britain, in council elections in England, Scotland and Wales, in elections for the mayor and the assembly in London, in mayoral elections in Liverpool and Salford and in other 11 referendums where people will either be voting on whether their city should have a mayor or, in Doncaster, where they will be voting to abolish the mayoral post. Even the Labour supporting Mirror suggests that in the current political climate the party should expect to make around 1,000 gains for it to be considered a good result. Berman could be an early high-profile victim of the night – he is defending a narrow majority in his Plasnewydd ward. Labour are claiming victory in Birimingham, and they have also won Wirral, Wigan, Chorley, Thurrock and Carlisle.
There were "three or four things in the budget which have clobbered some of our own supporters," he said. All Labour have managed to do in Plymouth is reverse the six gains made by the Conservatives in 2008 - a night when Labour had their lowest result since records began. There were 42 referendums in towns and cities yesterday, and 27 of them resulted in a no vote. These figures may changed as further results come in, allowing the psephologists to refine their numbers. Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative chairman of the public administration committee, delivered a similar message.
The coalition is going to look completely out of touch if we follow through with Lords reform. This briefing note on the subject from the Political Studies Association (pdf) suggests that "differential turnout" explains why the actual results don't match the polling. They seem to have won very well, and they've even defeated Ron Davies, the former Labour Welsh secretary who defected to Plaid and was serving as a councillor for Bedwas, Trethomas & Machen. When so level-headed a veteran from the party Left as Gary Streeter says so, it's surely just a matter of time. Another Tory MP, Martin Vickers, said George Osborne should have cut fuel duty instead of the 50p top rate of tax.• Nottingham has voted against having an elected mayor. They are particularly pleased that they are winning in areas in the Midlands and the south which they need to take if they want to win in 2015. It's a blow to Cameron, who recently devoted a whole speech to making the case for elected mayors.



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