Political history has been made in Scotland today with the SNP sweeping to a dramatic landslide victory as the Conservatives were set to hold onto power as the largest party across the UK.

The Nationalist surge led to unprecedented swings of 35 and 39 per cent, leading to a rout of Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates with the SNP eventually taking 56 of Scotland's 59 seats.

Nicola Sturgeon said her record-breaking team of SNP MPs will "genuinely make Scotland's voice heard" at Westminster in a bid to end austerity economics.

Ms Sturgeon hailed that as "an overwhelming vote for change in Scotland", and vowed to now push for more powers to be handed to Holyrood.

The SNP leader said: "Given that we are, unfortunately, facing another Conservative government, it's all the more important that we've got a strong team of SNP MPs standing up for Scotland.

"The government at Westminster cannot ignore what has happened in Scotland, people have voted overwhelmingly for Scotland's voice to be heard and for an end to austerity."

As SNP victory followed SNP victory, Alex Salmond, the winner in Gordon, declared: "The Scottish lion has roared this morning across the country" and suggested David Cameron had "no legitimacy in Scotland" based on the early results.

In a night of high drama, senior political figures fell one by one in the wake of the unstoppable Nationalist tide with Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran, suffering humiliating defeats.

The defeat of the party's chief strategist Douglas Alexander to the SNP's Mhairi Black means, at 20, she will become the youngest MP since the 17th century.

Leading LibDems figures Danny Alexander and Charles Kennedy lost their Scottish seats in a bitter night for the party across the UK.

Such was the scale of the SNP's triumph, suggestions were being made that Mr Cameron - to avoid the prospect of becoming the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom following a second independence referendum - could consider making Holyrood an offer of full fiscal autonomy and that a federal-type structure might be the last redoubt of the Unionists to save the 300-year-old Union.

Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, whose election as Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip marked his return to Westminster after a seven-year absence, said: "There has to be some sort of federal offer," adding: "People are crying out for that kind of solution...I'm absolutely certain it can be done."

Tristram Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary, accused the Tory leader of "playing fast and loose" with the Union, putting party before country, and that the Conservatives had been peddling "ugly sentiments" towards Scotland, which could have damaging consequences.

Lord Falconer, the former Labour Lord Chancellor, suggested Labour's fall in England could have been due to the fears raised of a Lab-SNP alliance on doorsteps south of the border.

As David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, said it was a "very, very bad" night for Labour rumours began to spread that Ed Miliband would resign by this lunchtime.

Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, made clear Mr Miliband should consider his position as Labour leader after presiding over a "depressing" performance at the election.

The former Cabinet Minister said the party faced "a desperate situation in Scotland and a pretty depressing situation in England and Wales".

At his count in Doncaster, Mr Miliband gave a short speech, saying "This has clearly been a very difficult and disappointing night for the Labour Party." He later got into a limousine to head back to London.

It was also a deeply depressing night for the Liberal Democrats with the exit poll predicting the party would fall from 57 seats to just 10. Many senior figures fell.

Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, was an early victim, losing to the Tories in his London seat of Kingston and Surbiton while Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, was also defeated in Twickenham. Justice Minister Simon Hughes lost the Southwark & Old Bermondsey seat, which he held since 1983 while Jo Swinson, the Business Minister, was ousted in East Dunbartonshire. Other casualties were Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone and Whip Jenny Willott.

The scale of the party's defeat has also raised questions about the longevity of Nick Clegg's leadership. A grim-faced Deputy Prime Minister ignored a question about whether he would resign as he arrived at the Sheffield Hallam count.

Mr Clegg won his seat but admitted it had been a "cruel and punishing night" for his party and added ominously that he would be making a statement on his future later.

As the results continued to come through, party sources indicated that the figure of 10 seats could be optimistic on a "devastating" night. One source said: "The exit poll is accurate. It may be even worse than that."

While the SNP recorded monumental success after monumental success, it did not win all of Scotland's seats.

A clean sweep was prevented by victories for Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, in Orkney and Shetland, although he saw his near 10,000 majority fall to around 800, Labour's Ian Murray retained Edinburgh South and Conservative David Mundell, the Scotland Office Minister, held onto Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

The joint BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll, released as polling stations closed, predicted the Tories becoming the largest party with 316 seats and Labour gaining just 239 seats, 17 fewer than their tally at the start of the election campaign while the Liberal Democrats were predicted to suffer a collapse from 56 in 2010 to just 10.

As the results came in, the possibility was raised that Mr Cameron could see the Tories gaining a small majority.

The PM said at his count in Witney that the Tories had had a "strong night".

But if the Conservatives do fall short of an overall majority, then it throws up the possibility of another Con-Lib Coalition or, possibly, a minority Conservative government, relying on either Lib Dem votes or Democratic Unionist votes in a confidence and supply deal.