The Conservative Party say they are on course to win the next general election as the results from last night’s council elections in England and Scotland and elections for the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament continue to come in.

Eric Pickles, the party’s vice-chairman, said: “We’ve got 41% of the vote. We are now back in business.

“In the north of England we run more councils now than the Lib Dems do in the North West or Yorkshire. A new dawn is breaking.”

Although Labour lost hundreds of councillors, their vote was up 1% and it was not the wipeout many had predicted.

The Lib Dems had mixed fortunes, losing some seats and councils but gaining others.

Labour chairman Hazel Blears told BBC Radio 4: “It’s not been the best of nights, but it’s not half as bad as some of the pundits predicted.”

In Scotland, a new electronic counting system has caused chaos and up to 100,000 ballot papers are thought to have been spoilt.

Only 50% of the votes cast have been counted so far.

The Scottish results have been delayed, but the SNP have made considerable gains, taking 15 seats.

The first Asian person to sit in the Scottish Parliament was elected to represent Glasgow.

In Wales, with 56 of the 60 seats counted, Labour will probably retain control but may have to go into coalition.

They lost three seats and the nationalist party Plaid Cymru gained three.

In Clwyd West Culture Minister Alun Pugh lost his seat to Tory Darren Millar. Mr Millar was at the centre of a gay row.

He allegedly told a meeting that he thinks homosexuality is a sin and that schools should be allowed to teach faith-based theories of evolution.

A Tory party spokesman said Mr Millar was merely pointing out that religious texts say homosexuality is a sin.