THERE might have been no single "Portillo Moment", but the electorate claimed big political scalps aplenty on Thursday night.
Lembit Opik, Charles Clarke, scandal-hit DUP leader Peter Robinson and George Galloway will all have more time to spend with their families.
They are joined by Jacqui Smith – Britain's first female home secretary – armed forces minister Bill Rammell, communities minister Shahid Malik, former employment minister Tony McNulty and Sir Reg Empey, Ulster Unionist leader.
TV presenter Esther Rantzen's tilt at power also saw her roundly rejected by the voters of Luton – with only 1,872 buying her reform message in a seat that Labour won comfortably.
Ms Smith, who was forced to apologise last year for an expenses claim which included adult films watched by her husband Richard Timney, said she was "pleased" to have taken part in the contest.
The former "Blair Babe" received 13,317 votes, which meant losing her Redditch constituency to Tory Karen Lumley, who won 19,138 votes.
Communities minister Mr Malik lost Dewsbury to the Conservative Simon Reevell, by 18,898 votes to 17,372.
Mr Malik had been linked to the expenses scandal but was cleared of abusing the system.
Other well-known names voted out included former home secretary Charles Clarke and employment minister Jim Knight.
Mr Clarke, who has repeatedly criticised Gordon Brown, lost Norwich South to Liberal Democrat Simon Wright, on a majority of 310 votes.
Armed forces minister Mr Rammell lost Harlow in a 5.9 per cent swing to the Conservatives. Tory Robert Halfon won with 19,691 votes, compared with Mr Rammell's 14,766.
Sir Reg Empey was understood to be "considering his future" after defeat to the Democratic Unionist preacher the Rev William McCrea by 1,200 votes.
Northern Ireland first minister Mr Robinson lost east Belfast. The MP, whose wife Iris quit in disgrace as member for Strangford after admitting an affair, was beaten by the Alliance Party's Naomi Long
And Mr Galloway, famed for his self-regard as an "outsider", was finally placed outside Westminster.
His attempt to take Poplar and Limehouse in London was beaten off by Labour's Jim Fitzpatrick.
A jubilant Mr Fitzpatrick made no effort to hide his feelings as he addressed his own supporters to loud cheers, following a long and drawn-out count. In a jibe at the Respect candidate, he said: "Thankfully, we don't have to hear that dreadful open-topped bus driving around Tower Hamlets noisily anymore."
There was, of course, the one who got away. Ed Balls, tough-talking protg of Mr Brown and Labour Schools Secretary, managed to escape the chop by 1,101 votes in Morley and Outwood.
Acknowledging his narrow win, he said: "I'm sorry the cameras didn't quite get the moment they were looking for, but I have to say, it was quite close."
• Tory star Michael Portillo was voted out of his Enfield Southgate seat in the 1997 Labour landslide.
So farewell, then
• JACQUI Smith lost her seat by a hefty 5,821 margin. She was reported to have left the count in Redditch "close to tears" – a hard fall from power for the country's first female home secretary. In truth, she never managed to live down her expenses claim scandal, which included adult films watched by her husband, Richard Timney.
GEORGE Galloway failed in his bid to take the London seat of Poplar and Limehouse. The flamboyant Glaswegian, elected MP for the Respect Party in the neighbouring constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005 on an anti-war protest vote, failed to pull off a similar coup this time around.
• NORTHERN Ireland's first minister, Peter Robinson, faces a fight for his politcal life. The DUP leader was defeated by the Alliance Party's Naomi Long in East Belfast. It comes in the wake of a series of damaging revelations, which saw his wife Iris quit politics over allegations abouther financial involvement with her teenage lover.
• ARMED Forces minister Bill Rammell lost his vulnerable Harlow seat in a 5.9 per cent swing to the Conservatives. Tory Robert Halfon won with 19,691 votes. Mr Rammel had enjoyed a fairly prominent role of late, defending Gordon Brown over military spending and providing reassurances over the treatment of veterans.
• THE expenses scandal claimed another victim in former employment minister Tony McNulty. He quit the post last summer after it emerged that he had been claiming expenses for a house where his parents lived, just eight miles away from his main home. He lost Harrow East to the Conservatives by more than 3,000 votes.
• CHARLES Clarke, who moved from centre stage as a tough home secretary to a critic of Gordon Brown on the margins of the Labour party, lost his Norwich South seat to the Liberal Democrats' Simon Wright, who secured a narrow majority of 310 votes. Clarke came to be regarded as chief spokesman for the "Blair rump" against the PM.
• LEMBIT Opik was cast from his Montgomeryshire seat by Conservative Glyn Davies in a surprise defeat for the Lib Dems. Mr Opik, 45, is a somewhat flamboyant figure known for his love life. He was previously engaged to Cheeky Girl pop star Gabriela Irimia and had a long-term relationship with television weather presenter Sian Lloyd.
• SHAHID Malik, communities minister in the Labour government, lost his Dewsbury seat to the Conservatives' Simon Reevell by a tight margin. Mr Malik, who did much for race relations following the 7/7 bombing, which had links to Dewsbury, had been linked to the expenses scandal, but was cleared last month of having abused the system.
• ESTHER Ranzten wanted to do a Martin Bell, running in Luton South on a "clean up politics" message after Labour MP Margaret Moran claimed 22,500 on expenses to treat dry rot in a house 100 miles from her constituency. The voters of Luton were less than convinced, and returned Labour's 28-year-old Gavin Shuker.
• THE political future of Sir Reg Empey, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, is now in some doubt after he failed to topple the sitting DUP MP in South Antrim, the Reverend William McCrea. The Ulster Unionists are now left without an MP for the first time in the party's history, despite its much-hyped alliance with the Conservatives.
• Scottish results by constituency
General Election 2010: More news and analysis
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• Gerry Hassan: Scotland is a different political beast with the Holyrood elections looming
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