LABOUR candidate Kali Mountford came closer than ever early today to losing her fight to remain MP for Colne Valley.
Ms Mountford, 51, won the three-way marginal seat with 17,536 votes - just 1,501 more than Conservative candidate Maggie Throup.
Acting returning officer Rob Vincent announced the results at 2.15am at Huddersfield Sports Centre, after hours of tension and speculation.
Ms Mountford, who was first elected as Colne Valley MP in 1997, polled 1,431 less votes than she did in the 2001 election - despite the turnout rising from 63.33% to 65.98%.
The extra voters appeared to have given their support to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
The Conservatives had 1,707 votes more than in 2001 and the Liberal Democrats gained 128 more votes.
The Colne Valley has long been a closely-fought constituency, having returned MPs from all three major parties in the past 30 years.
Speaking about this year's close-run election race, former civil servant Ms Mountford said: "It's been a difficult campaign and it would be stupid to deny that. We have to learn lessons.
"We have not yet analysed all the votes and the issues that influenced them.
"But some of the key issues have been asylum and immigration. We were surprised at how many people raised these issues, even though it was pushed by the Tories.
"We have to really explain what is happening with asylum and immigration, because people are labouring under some strange illusions. If that's what is concerning people, we have to make sure they are clear about what we are doing."
Crewe-born Ms Mountford, who now lives in Slaithwaite, promised to respond to the needs of Colne Valley residents during her term as MP.
She said: "We need now to make sure that we represent the people of the Colne Valley in the way that they want us to.
"I'm grateful to them for the trust and faith that they have shown in us and we have to make sure that is properly rewarded."
Ms Mountford, who is married with two children, said the election race had been fought fairly in the Colne Valley, with no parties resorting to the personal, negative campaigning used in other areas.
She said: "I thank the other candidates who I think have fought a very fair race. I hope it continues to be that way. We should be proud."
Her main opponent, 48-year-old Maggie Throup, agreed and said the Tories would be fighting back for the Colne Valley seat in the next election.
Former marketing and PR worker Mrs Throup, of Bolster Moor, said: "It was so close. There is only one position to be in and that's first. If it was only one vote it is still not close enough.
"At this stage we have to be re-selected. Obviously that's not just my decision. But I'm hoping to continue the fight.
"We made great inroads into the opposition's majority. There will be a lot of people who are very disappointed that the Conservatives aren't in but we are not far away. So watch us."
Liberal Democrat candidate, Elisabeth Wilson, 57, said she was pleased with her party's increasing popularity.
Mrs Wilson, from Golcar, said: "I'm proud to have been the Lib Dem candidate. We will carry on working in our local communities. We are here to stay."
The British National Party, running in the constituency for the first time, came fourth with 1,430 votes.
BNP candidate Barry Fowler polled more votes than candidates for the Green party, Veritas and the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
Mr Fowler, who is 60 and lives in Honley, felt support for his party is growing and said: "Thanks to everyone for their support. We have not achieved what we planned this year, but the BNP is here and is here to stay."