TODAY Scotland hears the results of yesterday's local elections. There were local elections in Scotland, England and Wales, and elections to Stormont in Northern Ireland.

Although as far as the BBC was concerned, it seemed at times to be: "There were local elections in England, oh, and in Scotland as well." Perhaps you could forgive them up to a point as counting in Scotland didn't really get properly underway until today.

In Scotland, the SNP have easily maintained their position as the largest party both in terms of first-preference votes and in terms of the number of councillors elected.

Since the SNP were defending a good result at the previous election and have been in power continuously at Holyrood where their record has naturally been subject to ferocious attacks from the opposition parties and Scotland's overwhelmingly anti-independence media, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the SNP to make substantial gains in yesterday's ballot.

Nevertheless, the SNP have come out of the other side of this election with more councillors than they went into it with. The SNP gained control of Dundee and overtook Labour as the largest party in Midlothian, but Labour took control of West Dunbartonshire.

In North Lanarkshire, the SNP gained three seats, taking it to 36, Labour remained where they were on 32, and the Tories saw their representation halve from 10 to five. Overall across Scotland, it was a story of modest gains for the SNP, and the party can be quietly pleased with that performance.

However, the big story was the drubbing received by the Conservatives. The Tories have lost their second-place position to a Labour party which performed well.

Although despite Labour's supporters in Scotland revelling in the novelty of actually winning some seats for a change, having got used to suffering catastrophic losses in previous elections over the past few years, this recovery must not be overstated.

Labour have not gained as many councillors as the SNP. Given that the Conservatives have performed so poorly and are mired in sleaze and scandal at Westminster, Labour really have not done anything like as well as needed in order to ensure that they really are on the road to recovery as the largest anti-independence party in Scotland after the devastation endured since 2014.

Labour regained second place in Scotland, but this owes more to the poor performance of the Tories rather than any great revival in Labour support.

The big losers are clearly the Conservatives. Despite their diehard opposition to independence being a factor in shoring up their vote among British nationalists in Scotland, in a way that it is not in England, the Scottish Tories could not escape the widespread public anger about Boris Johnson's lies and law-breaking which appears to have so badly damaged the Conservatives elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish Tories have lost dozens of councillors, being punished by voters for Brexit, Boris Johnson and the corruption and cronyism of the Conservative Government at Westminster. In Glasgow, the Conservatives lost all but two of their eight council seats.

In England, the Conservatives suffered the humiliation of losing Wandsworth in London – a London Borough previously considered a Tory flagship. If that wasn't bad enough, they also lost Westminster, a London borough which has been controlled by the Conservatives since its creation.

The results once again put Boris Johnson's leadership at risk from jittery Conservative MPs and calls into question the poor decisions of Douglas Ross, who first called for Johnson's resignation, only to perform a humiliating U-turn after it became clear that not enough Tory MPs were prepared to unseat him, and insisted that Johnson enjoyed his full confidence after all.

Should Conservative MPs make a fresh attempt to unseat Johnson in the coming weeks, Ross is likely to show us all just how much of a lightweight he really is, and go back to demanding Johnson's resignation. Not so much a U-turn as a Woe turn.

For the other parties, the elections were good for the Scottish Greens, who saw a significant increase in their vote share and an increase in their council representation.

There are now 10 Green councillors in Glasgow, giving the city a solid Yes majority even though it is neck and neck between Labour and the SNP for the position of largest party – the SNP have just one more councillor than Labour. Much of the increase in Green support seems to have come at the expense of the SNP, but this election has cemented the Scottish Greens as the second-largest pro-independence party.

The LibDems have also made gains, mostly at the expense of the Tories.

Alba seem to have failed to get any of their 111 candidates elected, including some high-profile candidates who were sitting councillors, having defected to Alba from the SNP, such as Chris McEleny, the party's general secretary.

This election shows that politically Scotland remains in a very different place from the rest of the UK, and that Scotland's appetite for pro-independence parties remains undiminished. The anti-independence parties will be hard-pressed to use these elections as a campaigning tool to resist another independence referendum. In that vital respect, they didn't get the result that they were hoping for.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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