As the dust settled on a resounding victory for Labour, the uplifting D-Ream anthem of Things Can only Get Better which accompanied the party's last annihilation of a sitting Tory government felt a world away.

The band's former keyboard player and now celebrity boffin Brian Cox would, despite his understanding of the ebs and flows of time, never have imagined so much could change between the end of one Labour tenure, and the beginning of another.

But at the DCBL Stadium overnight as its two Labour candidates were crowned winners in Widnes and Halewood, and Runcorn and Helsby, celebrations in 2024 were much more muted.

The count taking place at the DCBL Stadium in Widnes.The count taking place at the DCBL Stadium in Widnes. (Image: LDRS)

Results for both constituencies were among the first in the country to come in, being read out by acting returning officer and Halton Council Chief Executive Stephen Young just after 2am.

Labour supporters, families and colleagues were delighted at the success of both candidates, but there was a palpable sense of the enormity of what lay ahead. Gone are the days of unbridled optimism as Tony Blair and wife Cherie shook hands with the crowds outside Number 10 and Britpop and Cool Britannia reigned supreme.

This time, the incoming Government faces an intray of headaches on all fronts, ranging from gaping holes in the public finances to major wars in Europe and the Middle East, as well as the prospect of a Trump administration in the United States and a far right government across the channel.

The victory speeches of both Mike Amesbury and Derek Twigg were celebratory, but tempered with realism. Both spoke about it taking 'time' for things to be turned around. There would be no quick fixes, no silver bullets.

Even the Halton Labour councillors littered about the counting hall - for so long critical of the Conservatives' funding for local authorities - could not be sure what the picture would look like under Labour.

Notable among the other results on the night were strong finishes from Reform on both sides of the river, pushing the Conservatives into third place.

Labour figures on the night said much of Reform's  support had been drawn from traditional Labour areas, such as parts of Runcorn - where there was anger and the belief that both the major parties were 'all the same'. In some areas, they felt the pent up frustrations which manifested themselves during the Brexit vote had not gone away, but now just found a different form of expression.

The likelihood of a Labour landslide had been widely accepted for some time, in a sense the vote felt like  a foregone conclusion, or a procession.

But now the real hard work begins, at a time when the country's political picture - as well as the global one - is in a state of flux. Uncertain times lie ahead and make no mistake - everyone present last night knew it.