Conservatives were picking up seats and councils around England as the first results from local elections started to come in today.
But with results available from around a dozen councils, it was too early to say whether David Cameron's party had made the kind of breakthrough he was hoping for, achieving a share of vote that would translate to 40% or more of the electorate nationwide.
Senior Labour figures admitted they were expecting a difficult night, with London campaign supremo Tessa Jowell saying "this is going to be tough", while Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan described himself as "apprehensive" about results in the principality.
In early results, Conservatives won Nuneaton and Bedworth in Warwickshire from Labour, gained Harlow in Essex from no overall control, and took West Lindsey in Lincolnshire from the Liberal Democrats.
There was cheering news for Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party regained control of Hull, which it seized for the first time last year only to see it slip out of its hands as two councillors defected.