IT was the Hampshire constituency at the centre of one of the most infamous parliamentary expenses scandals.

And there can be little doubt that the words “duck” and “house” will resurface time and again in the next few weeks as voters prepare to hit the polling booths in Gosport.

It was the claim made by Sir Peter Viggers for the pond feature that added to the outrage over MP expenses last year.

The veteran Tory MP of 25 years announced that he would retire at this year’s election in the wake of the row.

But it remains to be seen whether the saga will be enough to dislodge the Conservatives from what has been a safe seat for them.

The party regards Gosport as something of a stronghold and hopes are being pinned this time on new candidate Caroline Dinenage.

The daughter of Meridian TV presenter Fred Dinenage sees transport issues and employment as crucial to the area and has vowed to be “open and transparent”

with expenses.

In 2005 the seat was won with a majority of some 5,700 votes.

The constituency includes some stark social divisions, notably the large council estate of Rowner, reputedly one of the most deprived areas in the United Kingdom.

But the presence of the Royal Naval base is helpful to the Tories.

Labour, the nearest challengers last time with 13,538 votes, have enlisted Dr Graham Giles MBE to take on the Tories.

He says he has delivered residents’ surveys to every family in the constituency and has stressed the importance to the peninsular of issues surrounding transport, medical services, housing and the defence industry.

Green Party candidate Claire Smith wants to harness the skilled labour in the area to build energy efficient new infrastructure.

She also wants a reward scheme to encourage people to shop locally.

Lib Dem hopes in the area lie with computer expert Rob Hylands.

He took up the reins at the Foresters Arms in Ann’s Hill Road with his wife recently and claims “politicians have lost touch with the people.”

Now he is on a mission to engage with the community and “get them more involved in the decision making process.”

UKIP candidate Andrew Rice believes Gosport needs a “down to earth” MP with a “common sense”


Barry Bennett is standing for the BNP and Bob Shaw is the candidate for The English Democrats.

Charlie Read, Dave Smith and Brian Hart are also contesting the election as independents.