This constituency does not cover the whole of the eastern edge of Hampshire, but rather its central section between North East Hampshire and, to the south, Meon Valley. Not least because it is such an attractive and comfortable place to live, the population of this part of southern England has been steadily rising, which has given rose to regular major boundary changes and the allocation of extra seats to the county of Hampshire in successive boundary reviews. For example in 2010 the centre of gravity of the seat named East Hampshire moved distinctly northwards as Meon Valley was created, which removed the Horndean area and the wards of Havant borough previously included. In return, terrain was added from NE Hampshire including the Whitehill-Bordon area, Selborne, and stretching as far as the Surrey border near the Devil’s Punchbowl at Grayshott. Nevertheless this has had no electoral effect: East Hampshire is a very safe Conservative seat regardless of the details of its boundaries. The two best known communities remain as they were since the 1997 boundary changes. They are Alton (population around 19,000 in 2011) and Petersfield (16,000), which gave its name to the predecessor constituency to East Hampshire before its creation in 1983, and which had existed since at least the 16th century as a parliamentary borough, and which had been Conservative without a break since 1892. The Liberals here were done in by Gladstone’s Irish Home Bill in the mid 1880s, though they failed to regain Petersfield by just 96 votes in their landslide year of 1906. Petersfield itself is still generally very solid for the Tories at local level, but Alton - which had actually been placed in the Winchester constituency until 1997, and shares some of that seat's Liberal Democrat tendencies - is a different matter. Of its seven East Hampshire district wards, the Liberal Democrats won four in May 2019, and Labour picked up two more (their only representation on the council). This was an improvement for the opposition parties compared with May 2017, when the Conservatives won all seven county council divisions within East Hampshire district including both Alton Town and Alton Rural; but the Liberal Democrats have advanced somewhat over that period, as they regained second place in the 2019 general election having been third behind Labour in 2017 – and third behind UKIP in 2015. They were still a massive 19,696 behind the former Education Secretary Damian Hinds, though. As well as Alton and Petersfield, the seat includes Liss and Liphook along the main railway between London and Portsmouth and just off the A3, small towns that claim to be large villages, surrounded by hills and plentiful woods – indeed there is a Liss Forest. However the third largest centre of population is actually the slightly unexpected sprawl of the Whitehill-Bordon-Lindord built up area, which already had well over 10,000 people even before extensive new housing and ‘technology park’ developments on the site of the former Bordon army (or rather REME and SEME) camp, which closed in 2015. There are still many red-bordered military road signs in this part of the constituency, but while it is far less picturesque than average, it is just as Conservative, as is often the case in places with a military background. Finally there are the villages, very much of the heart-of-England nature, though off the tourist track with two exceptions, one major and one minor: here are Jane Austen’s Chawton and the naturalist Gilbert White’s Selborne, the latter deserving to be better known, delightfully set among the East Hampshire hangers (deeply wooded hills). All this territory is indeed profoundly Conservative, for good or understandable reasons, and although the Liberal Democrats increased their share by 9% in 2019, perhaps because East Hampshire is estimated narrowly to have favoured Remain in 2016, and have a local government springboard, at least in Alton, it is hard to imagine (even with the seat’s literary connections) this constituency delivering even a close result.
Owner-occupied 71.8% 167/650 Private rented 12.5% 427/650 Social rented 13.0% 438/650 White 96.3% 280/650 Black 0.5% 362/650 Asian 1.7% 384/650 Managerial & professional 40.0% Routine & Semi-routine 20.1% Degree level 34.1% 100/650 No qualifications 17.0% 566/650 Students 6.4% 401/650 Age 65+ 19.0% 180/650
General election 2019: East Hampshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Damian Hinds 33,446 58.8 -4.9 Liberal Democrats David Buxton 13,750 24.2 +9.0 Labour Gaynor Austin 6,287 11.1 -5.9 Green Zoe Parker 2,600 4.6 +1.4 UKIP Jim Makin 616 1.1 +1.1 Justice & Anti-Corruption Eddie Trotter 196 0.3 -0.7
The two best known communities remain as they were since an East Hampshire division was first created in 1983. They are Alton (population around 19,000 in 2011) and Petersfield (16,000),
A minor quibble, but Alton was in the Winchester constituency between 1983 and 1997 when the seat called East Hampshire extended far to the North to include Fleet, this arrangement being reversed in 1997 with the creation of North East Hampshire