As Tony Blair prepares to govern the country with a reduced majority, what of the three main candidates who fought for the city of Chester? What are their plans for the future? DAVID HOLMES and ROISIN GAD EL RAB contacted them to find out.
CHESTER'S newly elected Labour MP Christine Russell is raring to go despite her massively reduced majority.
Ms Russell says she has enough stamina and energy for the long haul and has not ruled out standing for a fourth term.
But she is politically wounded having seen her majority go down from 6,894 to just 915 with the Conservatives snapping at her heels.
Giving her considered view on what happened, she said: 'I think there were two issues. I think the Conservatives put a lot of resources into trying to recapture the seat. They certainly ran a much higher profile campaign than they did in the two previous elections.
'There is no doubt Iraq was a divisive issue and for every vote we lost to Tories we probably lost three to the Liberals.'
In her early hours victory speech Ms Russell referred to the Tories locally running a 'shabby' campaign.
Clarifying her statement, she said: 'I just think if you look at the newspaper advertisements they were either downright lies or very distorted statistics.'
She said figures quoted on the number of MRSA cases at the Countess spread unwarranted fear given there had not been a single incidence in 2005.
But Ms Russell appears to accept that Chester is returning to a more normal political state.
'You have to be realistic. You have to say that Chester always was a safe Conservative seat. Until the 1990s there had never been a Labour MP. Over the next four years we will have to prove the policies we put forward are the policies that are in the best interests of the people and the city of Chester.'
She said the electorate had to be constantly reminded that Labour had delivered a prosperous economy and better public services.
The Labour member said policies unveiled as part of the Government's legislative programme which appealed to her personally included the extension of childcare provision as well as maternity and paternity leave.
'I think that's so important, the first few months of life, when the bonding takes place. That's really important,' she commented. Maternity leave will be increased from six to nine months and some of the leave will be able to be transferred across to the father as paternity leave.
Controversial legislation in the coming session will include a Bill to introduce identity cards for UK citizens in the wake of terrorist atrocities in the US and Spain. Human rights campaigners say the move will be an infringement of civil liberties but the fiercely loyal Ms Russell will be voting with her Government.
'People say ID cards would not have prevented the Madrid bombings,' she said. 'But if you read what the Spanish police have said, they said it did help them to trace the perpetrators.'
Ms Russell said ID cards would also assist in tackling the problem of ID fraud which cost the economy £1.3bn a year and affected at least 100,000 people who had their identity stolen by crooks.
And she said in five years time bio-metric identification - the ability to match a fingerprint or iris on the card to its owner - would be needed for entering many countries.
On an issue which will affect her personally, Ms Russell, a smoker, said she would support a Bill to ban smoking from public places.
She said: 'I think the public will appreciate the fact smokers are in a minority. I think there is going to be an exemption for pubs that don't sell food.'
She said smoking had been banned from the Palace of Westminster except the Members Smoking Room which was a 'horrible' and 'unhealthy' place.
TORY hopeful Paul Offer may have come close to winning the seat but that hasn't stopped critics from accusing him of deserting Chester in his defeat - a fact he vehemently denies.
In fact, he claims it will be re-elected Labour MP Christine Russell who will be visibly absent next time.
Losing out to Labour by 915 votes has encouraged him that the Conservatives can win Chester next time.
'There's no question about winning the seat back,' he said. 'Look at the figures - we reduced the majority from 6,894 to 915. We were 132nd on the list of marginal seats - we're now 19th.
'That will be very worrying to Labour and I will put any wager in the fact Christine will not stand next time. She will retire rather than being beaten.'
And to those who think Mr Offer plans to return to Warwick, he says he still has strong links with Chester.
'I am still a governor of two schools, I'm involved in local churches and community groups and I will continue those involvements.
'The fact that my opponents are saying they don't expect me to be around for long is them playing petty little games.
'I hope to be able to build on our great success, and have let it be known to Central Office and Chester Conservatives that I want to continue my campaigning in Chester.'
'My initial priority over the next six months is to provide for my family.
'I need to re-establish my business and get to work and I am already bidding for a couple of pieces of work. I'm a freelance management consultant and that could mean my work could be anywhere in the world, but I hope to continue to be able to live in Chester.'
REFLECTING on the gains made this year, Liberal Democrat candidate Mia Jones feels confident the next general election will see a direct three-way split between the main parties.
Mrs Jones, who hopes to stand for the Chester seat again, said: 'This has been a fantastic result for the Liberal Democrats. I want to stand in the next election and believe Chester would gain tremendously from a Liberal Democrat MP. It will be down to our members to select whether I continue to represent them.
'If we continue to have the same gains in the next election as we had this time we will certainly be causing a three-way split and will be into three party politics.'
And to reinforce her ambitions she is stepping up her activity in the constituency.
'I will be ensuring that in the years coming up to the next general election people will see more of me on their doorsteps, in their communities and working for them,' said Mrs Jones.
'This wasn't a one campaign election. I set my stall out to gain the confidence of the people here. We had milestones and a huge mountain to climb and in the next few years I want to continue so people gain in confidence so when they get to the ballot box they don't have to hesitate.'
She criticised the Tories for what she described as a negative election campaign designed to run the city down.
She said: 'The way they were talking Chester down painted a negative picture of the city.'