The posters have been taken down, the schools are open again and the votes have been counted. The 2014 Local and European Elections are over and much of the Westminster Village has spent the Bank Holiday weekend deciding how big the UKIP 'earthquake' measured on the political Richter Scale, writes Kevin Whitmore.
- Labour erases Lib Dem opposition in Manchester
- Greens second after Labour in Liverpool
- Conservatives hold Trafford
- Liberal Democrats have 60% fewer NW councillors now than when Coalition took power
Here in the North West my answer would be 5.0 – the total number of new UKIP councillors in the region or what Richter would describe as a "moderate earthquake". You see for all of the headlines over the weekend the fact remains that UKIP's share of the vote was down 4% compared to last year.
Yes, UKIP showed that it can get its people elected in Bolton and Oldham, but not in the major cities.
Yes, the party showed that it can take votes off Labour and the Conservatives.
And yes UKIP topped the European Poll.
But the truth is, that for all of the hype, here in the North West UKIP failed to have the impact that many predicted and as a result many of the region's town halls look very similar today as they did on Thursday.
Nationally both Labour and the Conservatives will have reasons to be disappointed with the results. Labour should be polling higher one year away from the General Election, whilst the Tories were privately wanting to keep total losses to under 150 (they lost 231 across the country). But both parties can look to our region for signs of success.
Labour increased its majorities in many of the town and cities across Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
We now have a one party state in Manchester (plus one independent) and, in Liverpool, Labour added seven new councillors to their number. The party also made gains across Lancashire in Preston, Blackburn and Burnley. Labour gained eight seats in Chorley, increasing its majority from one to 17. Labour might also try and form an administration in West Lancashire where it is neck-and-neck with the Conservatives, both parties having 27 councillors.
The Conservatives celebrated keeping control of their flagship Trafford Council. A single loss means that the Conservatives managed to retain control and Trafford Tories will be confident of making gains next year. Cllr Sean Anstee's stock will have risen rapidly in CCHQ as leader of the region's only Conservative controlled council.
It was bleak for the Liberal Democrats both nationally and regionally. The party was wiped out in Manchester, Liverpool and Wigan. And there is now only a single Lib Dem councillor in Rochdale and Bury. The fact the party managed to keep losses to a minimum in Stockport, where it remains the largest group, will be of small comfort.
The Green Party is now the official opposition in Liverpool with four councillors, after the party doubled its representation on the city council.
Taken together, the picture across the North West is one of consolidation for Labour in its urban heartlands; failure by the Tories to make inroads in the key marginals the party needs to win next year's General Election; and collapse by the Liberal Democrats, who have now lost 60% of their North West councillors since the start of the Coalition.
We may have entered a period of four party politics. But here in the North West, it started with more of a tremor than an earthquake.
Kevin Whitmore is associate director at political consultancy Lexington Communications