Recriminations between the coalition Government's Conservative and Liberal Democrat partners broke out even before the first results were in from the votes which have taken place all over the UK .
Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister David Cameron for his conduct during the campaign for the referendum on electoral reform.
Lord Ashdown - a close ally of Nick Clegg - accused Mr Cameron of "panicking" in the face of pressure from the Tory right and allowing a largely Conservative-funded No campaign which targeted the Deputy Prime Minister personally.
Mr Cameron's failure to dissociate himself from the No campaign's "regiment of lies" was a breach of faith which would have knock-on effects for the way the coalition operates, he said.
"You cannot fund a deeply vicious campaign to destroy the personality of your partner, who has been unmoved in his brave support of the coalition, without there being consequences," Lord Ashdown told The Times. "When it comes to the bonhomie of the Downing Street rose garden, it's never again glad confident morn."
Meanwhile, the first result was declared by Sunderland. The Tories lost four councillors, and Labour gained four to increase its majority to 37. There was a boost for Tories at Tamworth Borough in a key West Midlands marginal constituency they gained at last year's general election. Their huge council majority was only dented by one loss, suggesting a swing of just 1% since last May's local polls on the same day as the general election.
Lib Dem officials said they are expecting to lose 12 seats in Sheffield - where Mr Clegg has his parliamentary seat. They are also predicting the party "could lose everything" in Liverpool, which has traditionally been a stronghold.
A senior Lib Dem source said the party is set to lose all its seats on Manchester council. Its leaders on Sheffield and Liverpool councils have also been kicked out.
It has been a "fairly disastrous" night which has seen a "blood bath" in many areas, the source said. "We have been wiped out in the fights with Labour in the North," the source added. "They have given us an absolute kicking."
The source insisted the party's vote is holding up better in southern areas where it is competing against the Tories.