Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 12:21 UK

Education secretary Ed Balls avoids 'Portillo moment'

Ed Balls
Mr Balls had been defending a majority of more than 8,000

One of the most eagerly anticipated and closely-fought constituency battles involved Schools Secretary Ed Balls in the newly-formed Morley and Outwood seat.

It had been predicted there could be an upset reminiscent of the 1997 "Portillo moment" when the then Tory defence secretary Michael Portillo suffered a shock loss in his Enfield Southgate seat.

The defeat 13 years ago symbolised the extent of the Conservatives' loss to Tony Blair's New Labour.

But it was not to be in West Yorkshire as Mr Balls clung on with 18,365 votes, securing him the seat, but with a massively reduced majority of just 1,101 over Conservative opponent Anthony Calvert.

Liberal Democrat James Monaghan came third, polling 8,186 votes.

After the declaration a self-deprecating Mr Balls told the BBC: "All I know is I won my seat and you've not had the moment you were expecting."

When asked if he had spoken to Gordon Brown, he said: "I spoke to him earlier on to congratulate him on his majority, which is rather larger than mine."

He said he believed the close contest was due to a large amount of funding ploughed into the constituency campaign by the Conservatives.

Mr Balls, who had been defending a majority of more than 8,000, said Labour had "everything thrown at us but we are the party that has not buckled. We are fighters."

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