Jacqui Smith, the first woman to be home secretary, was one of the best -known sitting MPs to be voted out of Parliament but Glenda Jackson held on with a tiny majority.
Ms Smith was crushed by a heavy swing to the Conservatives which saw her vote fall by more than 13 per cent as Karen Lumley took the seat with a majority of almost 6,000 over Labour.
Ms Smith had been caught up in the expenses scandal and her loss had been widely forecast.
She was first caught out by the expenses issue when it was revealed her husband, Richard Timney, put two pornographic movies on her parliamentary claims, and was later criticised for designating her sister's house in London as her main home instead of her family home in Redditch. She was found to have broken the rules on expenses, claiming more than £116,000 over six years from her living arrangement.
Ms Smith said, shortly before leaving the counting hall close to tears: "It is an immense honour to have served the people of the old Redditch constituency for the past 13 years and I'm obviously sad that that has come to an end tonight."
Charles Clarke, another former Labour home secretary, was toppled from his Norwich South seat as a surge for the Liberal Democrats ended his hopes of remaining in the Commons. He said he was disappointed and sad to lose but accepted "the decision of the people".
Mr Clarke, an MP since 1997, said he was "sad" but accepted the "decision of the people" after losing to former maths teacher Simon Wright by 310 votes.
Glenda Jackson, an Academy Award-winning actress before she entered Westminster, held on to her Hampstead and Kilburn seat by just 42 votes.
She polled 17,332 votes against second-placed Chris Philp of the Conservatives with 17,290, giving Ms Jackson possibly the smallest majority of the new Parliament.
Vera Baird, the solicitor general since 2007, was one of the most senior Labour members to lose her seat. She was beaten into second place in Redcar by Ian Swales, of the Liberal Democrats.
She had been caught up in the controversy surrrounding the mothballing of the Corus steel plant in her Redcar constituency following the decision of an international consortium to pull out. She responded by trying to save jobs but her efforts were regarded as too little by the voters.
Moreover, Redcar was targeted by the Liberal democrats with Nick Clegg saying it epitomised his ambition to challenge Labour in the North East.
He told voters in Redcar shortly before polling day that Labour had "taken you for granted for too long". He added: "Labour doesn't own Redcar. Labour doesn't own the North East, Labour doesn't have some birthright to represent you in Parliament."
At least ten ministers were voted out of the Commons. Among them was Shahid Malik, the communities minister, who lost his Dewsbury seat to Simon Reevell of the Conservatives with a 5.84 per cent swing.
In Corby, Phil Hope lost to the Conservative Louise Bagshawe. The Care Services minister and minister for the East Midlands was beaten into second place by almost 2,000 votes. Voters in Harlow unseated Bill Rammell, the armed forces minister - Robert Halfon, of the Conservatives, won with 19,691 votes over Mr Rammell's 14,766.
Among the biggest surprises was the defeat of the flamboyant Lembit Opik of the Liberal Democrats in Montgomeryshire. A 13.16 per cent swing handed the seat to Glyn Davies of the Conservatives.
Mr Opik, who was once engaged to Cheeky Girl popstar Gabriela Irimia and had a long-term relationship with weather presenter Sian Lloyd, was hugely disappointed by the unexpected result.
"I didn't expect the result and neither did my team," he said. "It's a sad time for me. On the other side if you stand for politics you have to be willing to contemplate the possibility of defeat."
However, despite the fright of seeing his majority reduced to little more than 1,000, Ed Balls, the secretary of state for education, avoided a "Portillo moment" in the Morley and Outwood constituency. He faced a strong challenge by Antony Calvert, of the Conservatives, but held on, albeit with a much reduced majority.
Esther Rantzen failed to win the Luton South seat from Labour. She came fourth with 1,872 votes and Labour's Gavin Shuker won the seat, which will make him one of the youngest MPs in the new parliament. Ms Rantzen said: "He's a very nice young man."