Labour bounced back in council by-elections to celebrate two gains from the Tories during their conference week.
Candidate Helen Jackson triumphed at Irwell, Rossendale Borough, Lancashire, and party colleague Colin Lloyd took a Tilgate seat at Crawley Borough, West Sussex.
Both these wins come in constituencies gained by the Conservatives in May's General Election.
Labour also easily held on at Healey and Whitworth, Rossendale, in a ward where another seat had been won by the Community First group in this year's main council polls.
However the party may have passed up the chance of a third gain by failing to field a candidate at Harbour, Lancaster.
Analysis of five comparable results suggests a projected 1.1% nationwide Labour lead over Tories.
Liberal Democrats comfortably won two seats they were defending but saw their vote tumble in wards where they were not in contention - to as low as 10 votes in a Rossendale contest.
James Cooke, of the Voice of Gwynedd group, which lost a seat in a by-election for the North Wales authority last week, won at Seiont and Cadnant.
Blaby District - Saxondale: Lib Dem 701, C 311, Lab 243, BNP 94. (May 2007 - Three seats Lib Dem 1253, 1155, 1151, C 561, 522, 458). Lib Dem hold. Swing 5.3% Lib Dem to C.
Crawley Borough - Tilgate: Lab 764, C 656, Ukip 79, Justice 6. (May 2008 - C 725, Lab 627, BNP 274, Lib Dem 137). Lab gain from C. Swing 6.3% C to Lab.
Gwynedd County - Seiont and Cadnant: Voice of Gwynedd 399, Plaid Cymru 279, Lab 184, No description 91, C 23. (May 2008 - Two seats Ind 576, 453, Lab 323, Plaid Cymru 267, Lab 181). Voice of Gwynedd gain from Ind. Swing 4.1% Lab to Plaid Cymru.
Lancaster City - Harbour: Morecambe Bay Ind 287, C 161, Ukip 86, Lib Dem 68. (May 2007 - Three seats Lab 531, Morecambe Bay Ind 505, Lab 492, 472, Morecambe Bay Ind 463, 429, C 296, 252, 230, Green 89). Morecambe Bay Ind hold.
Rossendale Borough - Healey and Whitworth: Lab 346, Community First 165, C 156, Lib Dem 10. (May 2010 - Community First 583, Lab 564, C 381, Lib Dem 192). Lab hold. Swing 8.7% C to Lab.
Rossendale Borough - Irwell: Lab 277, C 220, Lib Dem 183, Community First 64. (May 2010 - C 984, Lab 837, National Front 265, Green 195). Lab gain from C. Swing 7% C to Lab.
Tunbridge Wells Borough - St James: Lib Dem 649, C 294, Green 103. (May 2010 - Lib Dem 1666, C 901). Lib Dem hold. Swing 2% C to Lib Dem
West Sussex County - Maidenbower: C 1036, Lab 417, Lib Dem 82, Ukip 61, Justice 12. (May 2009 - C 2192, Lab 425, Lib Dem 415). C hold. Swing 9.9% C to Lab.
Wyre Borough - Tithebarn: C 847, Lab 307. (May 2007 - Two seats C 967, 903, Lab 362). C hold. Swing 1.3% Lab to C.