Nicola Sturgeon hails 'emphatic' SNP election results

Launching his campaign to be re-elected, Salmond said: "I stand for re-election on my record, on the need to provide real opposition to the Tory government and to protect our own Scottish Parliament as the place to decide Scotland's future".

THE conservatives and SNP were the overall local election winners in Scotland yesterday.

She said she was "delighted" with the result in Glasgow, adding: "Becoming the largest party is an achievement".

Humza Yousaf, Glasgow Pollok SNP MSP and Scottish Government Transport Minister, said of course they wanted a majority but he was still pleased with the outcome.

"It is pretty clear that Theresa May, on the strength of support in England, is going to win the General Election, so for people in Scotland, if they want strong voices standing up for Scotland's interests and holding the Tories to account in Westminster, that can only come from the SNP".

The Scottish Labour leader will user her party's campaign launch in Rutherglen to claim that voters are rejecting the SNP's plans and call on voters to "stop the Nationalists".

Thursday's council elections delivered the Conservatives' best results in Scotland for generations, with the party putting on 164 seats to achieve a tally of 276.

The SNP had been hoping to topple Labour from the Glasgow stronghold where it has held power for more than three decades.

But in truth the two figures, the 32% the party won last week and the 50% it secured two years ago, are not directly comparable with each other.

Deals with the SNP would lead to accusations by the Tories that Labour was soft on the party.

However, Ms Sturgeon, who joined the SNP's new council group in Glasgow, said: "I've heard lots of ludicrous arguments in my time in politics but this takes the prize for the most ludicrous argument".

The Green Party
GETTYThe Green Party have confirmed they would not stand in Moray

Ms Sturgeon said: "I'm over the moon that we are the largest party in Glasgow and are about to form an administration in the city".

Labour has fallen to third place with 147 councillors, down by 59.

The results for each council were still coming in on Friday as, unlike the rest of the country, Scotland does not count overnight but instead started at 9am this morning.

Meanwhile, Labour, who once dominated local government in Scotland were even further behind.

"We have gained seats in councils all over Scotland today".

"As is the case right across Scotland, the choice in Gordon is clear. We can use this election to bring an end to the division over independence by backing the Liberal Democrats".

The comment fits with a national Conservative decision to carefully downplay their success, although it appears many inside the party are expectant of a significant win north of the border.

And it was a successful day for both the Conservatives and Lib Dems, who both returned six councillors.

We aren't going to roll over and let the SNP tear it up.

In a range of local authorities - including North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire - Labour could, in theory, turn to the SNP or the Conservatives.

Vanessa Coleman