Election 2014: Five things we can learn from the results
Ukip now a national player, Lib Dems suffer rout – and other key lessons from yesterday's elections
Ukip made huge gains in local council elections yesterday, as Labour lost control of key areas in its northern heartland and the Conservatives lost at least eight "flagship councils". The Liberal Democrats suffered the biggest collapse, as Nigel Farage's party transformed itself overnight from gaffe-prone protest party to significant political force.
So what can we learn from yesterday's local council vote and the anticipated outcome of the concurrent European parliament elections?
Ukip is now a 'serious player' not a protest vote
Ukip made major gains in local council elections, seeing huge swings in parts of Essex and polling strongly in South Yorkshire, Swindon and Portsmouth.
The party is also expected to make huge gains in the European Parliament, though the full results won't be announced until Sunday.
According to The Independent, Nigel Farage’s anti-European party "shrugged off a campaign blighted by revelations over the views of some of its candidates" to make major gains in Tory and Labour heartlands. The Guardian described the results as the "first tremors of political earthquake".
The Liberal demolition
The Lib Dems are "braced for complete wipe-out in European parliamentary election", the Guardian says, with "Top party figures" advised to say that the prospect of winning no seats was "expected". However, they are hoping to hold onto between three and five European seats in the south, east, north-west, London and potentially Scotland.
In local elections the party is defending more than 700 council seats, but as losses mount they have been left hoping that "more than half survive the carnage".
If the scale of defeat is as serious as analysts predict, it "would push the party back 25 years", the Guardian's political editor Patrick Wintour says, and could result in calls for major change within the party.
Could there be a Tory-Ukip coalition?
The "Ukip surge" has cost David Cameron's party dozens of seats, and loss of control in several Essex councils including Southend-on-Sea, Basildon and Castle Point. Following the results, Tory MPs Douglas Carswell, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone "broke cover" to call for a pact with Ukip in 2015.
The call risks "shattering Mr Cameron's hopes of unity until the crucial Newark by-election in two weeks' time", says The Times chief political correspondent Michael Savage.
Ed Miliband has to work on his working-class appeal
Despite Labour making moderate gains, the election is also a "wake up call" for Ed Miliband, the Guardian says. Miliband is likely to face "intense criticism" over his personal performance – particularly his failure to appeal to working class voters. Commentators say that the campaign strategists did not fully appreciate that Ukip posed a threat to Labour as well as the Conservatives.
John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said that people he spoke to on the campaign trail told him they were voting Ukip to send a message to the major parties. "People are angry. They are saying they aren't hearing enough of what they feel in what we politicians are saying," Healey said. "For me today was compounded when I was out knocking on doors and one man, a lifelong Labour voter, said to me: 'John, I'm voting for Ukip today. You all need a kicking.'"
Electoral fraud remains an issue
Police officers were stationed at more than 100 voting stations, the Daily Mirror reports. The Electoral Commission has recorded around 140 cases of alleged electoral fraud this year, the Guardian notes, including offenses relating to campaign materials and false statements about candidates, as well as accusations of vote-rigging. Since 2000, the election of 21 councillors have been overturned – eight of those were disqualified for vote-rigging.
See the results unfold with the Daily Telegraph's live results interactive graphic. Enter your postcode to see how your area voted.