With David Cameron now having been photographed smirking on the steps of Downing Street, that finally brings to an end the post-election horsetrading. Before the moment completely passes by, time just to reflect on the election results here in the North East.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a huge fan of Dari Taylor, the defeated MP for Stockton South. She was and is a genuine grassroots campaigner, who was an inspiration to ordinary members of the party like me. Ashcroft money, the national swing and some backwash from Corus did for her on Thuirsday, however - the people of Stockton have lost someone special. She can be proud of her record as an MP, however.
The shock of the evening was in Redcar, where Vera Baird lost her seat to a LibDem. They had been swarming all over the constituency for a while, notching up several local by-election wins, but in the end it was Corus that cost her the seat - desperately unfairly, given that together with Dari and the late Ashok Kumar, Vera worked tirelessly to try and save the works and the thousands of jobs that went with them. We were in office, however, and the easiest thing for residents to do was give Labour a kicking.
Senior LibDems in the region must have breathed a sigh of relief at the Redcar result, because it distracted attention away from a miserable night for them elsewhere. Roberta Blackman-Woods' victory in Durham defied many of the pundits, and owed everything to good old-fashioned street campaigning. The LibDems were incredibly confident about taking Durham City - hence Clegg's photocall there before polling. Given the very negative, personal campaign the LibDems in Durham ran against Roberta, I doubt whether victory tasted sweeter anywhere else in the country.
It was a similar story on Tyneside, where Labour more than held on. Those of you who saw the second Northern Decision Makers will recall that my fellow "legend", LibDem Durham County councillor David Stoker "called" Newcastle North for his party a whole 2 weeks before votes were actually cast, such was his confidence that the LibDems had it in the bag. In Tynemouth, Alan Campbell comfortably saw off the Tories in a seat that was Cameron's number one North East target. Revenge for the untimely defeat of our excellent Mayoral candidate John Harrison in North Tyneside last year.
A word too about the local council results - polling for these was held on the same day in Tyne and Wear and Hartlepool. Labour made impressive gains against the LibDems in Newcastle and against the Tories in North Tyneside. Coupled with the parliamentary results in Newcastle, Blaydon and Durham City, there is a real sense that Labour has begun to learn how to match and turn around LibDem campaigning tactics, at least in those areas.
For a while, the momentum seemed to be with the LibDems in places like Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead. Labour was licking its wounds. Coming to terms with local election losses is never easy - I always liken it to the bereavement process. Denial, anger, depression all can set in. Without getting all social work-y on you, there's no guarantee that you move seamlessly from one stage to another before finally reaching acceptance. The process can take months or years.
I mention this because I get the sense now that Labour across Tyneside and in Durham has now dealt with its setbacks, and is ready and willing to take the fight back to the LibDems. Results like those of Roberta were just the inspiration Labour needed. It might be an uncomfortable few years for North East LibDems now they've shacked up with Cameron's Tories.