Tories and Liberal Democrats swapped seats with each other in the latest council by-elections but the vote share surge was to Labour on the eve of its conference and the declaration of a new leader.
Analysis of four comparable results suggests it has a projected 5% nationwide lead over Conservatives.
Lib Dem Alistair Dewhirst won a landslide victory against Tories at Ipplepen, Teignbridge District, Devon, on a 34.5% swing.
The by-election was caused by the death of the authority's longest-serving councillor, 87-year-old Vic Elliott, after a tractor accident on his farm.
Tory John McGrory gained at Gosforth Valley, North East Derbyshire District, in a tight three-cornered fight which saw Labour pip Lib Dems for second place.
Big swings to Labour in two of its Gateshead strongholds could spell bad news for Liberal Democrats who are defending control of Newcastle - just across the Tyne - in next May's elections.
The turnout slump at Rushmoor Borough's Wellington ward in Aldershot could be due to an absence of troops away on service.
Gateshead Borough - Lobley Hill and Bensham: Lab 1120, Lib Dem 298, BNP 101, C 97. (May 2010 - Lab 2244, Lib Dem 972, C 517, BNP 291, Green 121). Lab hold. Swing 10.1% Lib Dem to Lab.
Gateshead Borough - Saltwell: Lab 793, Lib Dem 196, C 86, BNP 77. (May 2010 - Lab 1964, Lib Dem 748, C 451, BNP 202). Lab hold. Swing 7.8% Lib Dem to Lab.
North East Derbyshire District - Gosforth Valley: C 416, Lab 354, Lib Dem 350. (May 2007 - Three seats Lib Dem 937, 829, 807, C 520, 481, Lab 327, 320, 297). C gain from Lib Dem. Swing 13.6% Lib Dem to C.
Rushmoor Borough - Wellington: C 270, Lib Dem 238, Lab 184, Ukip 50, No description 12. (May 2010 - C 1081, Lib Dem 896, Lab 562). C hold. Swing 1.5% C to Lib Dem.
Teignbridge District - Ipplepen: Lib Dem 756, C 458. (May 2007 - C 650, Lib Dem 250). Lib Dem gain from C. Swing 34.5% C to Lib Dem.
Wealden District - Heathfield Central and North: C 802, Lib Dem 357. (May 2010 - Three seats C 1423, 1337, 1303, Lib Dem 561). C hold. Swing 1.5% C to Lib Dem.