Since its creation in 1918, East Surrey has elected a Conservative MP on an absolute majority (over 50% of the vote) at every general election, and is therefore regarded as a Conservative safe seat. Its greatest share of the vote for any opposition candidate was 33.75% in February 1974.[n 2]
Latter version of this area in its earlier existence (1867-1885) in darkest green, the stark dark/light split shows the preceding simpler East/West division of the county, dark shades being the former (1832-1867) version of that two-member area.
1832–1868: The Hundreds of Brixton, Kingston, Reigate, Tandridge and Wallington.
1868–1885: The Hundred of Tandridge, and so much of the Hundred of Wallington as included and lay to the east of the parishes of Croydon and Sanderstead, and so much of the Hundred of Brixton as included and lay to the east of the parishes of Streatham, Clapham and Lambeth.
For period to 1918 see completely new single-member Wimbledon and Reigate seats, also termed N.E. and S.E. Divisions of Surrey.
1918–1950: The Urban Districts of Caterham, and Coulsdon and Purley, and the Rural District of Godstone.
1950–1974: The Urban Districts of Caterham and Warlingham, and Coulsdon and Purley.
1974–1983: The Urban District of Caterham and Warlingham, and the Rural District of Godstone.
1983–1997: The District of Tandridge. (Equivalent to the above)
1997–2010: The District of Tandridge, and the Borough of Reigate and Banstead wards of Horley East and Horley West.
East Surrey is a well-connected inner Home Counties seat, combining the town of Horley with Surrey's residual District Tandridge (as opposed to Boroughs which the other 10 parts have been created) which is made up of Caterham and modest commuter settlements, farming and retirement homes. Horley is one of two towns adjoining London Gatwick Airport and part of Reigate and Banstead borough. The area borders the London Borough of Croydon to the north, the county of Kent to the east, and the county of West Sussex to the south.
Most local wards are won by the Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats often picking up seats somewhere in the dual-council system, particularly in Whyteleafe or Caterham Valley. As is typical in seats of this kind, the Labour vote is typically very modest. The party finished in third place at the elections between 1959 and 2015. In 2017 the party's candidate polled second, in a poorer showing for the Liberal Democrats and the party's "Corbyn Surge". In the 2019 election the Liberal Democrats took second place and Labour fell to third. The area saw a majority vote in favour of Brexit in the 2016 EU Referendum; whereas the then-MP Sam Gyimah opposed Brexit and later joined the Liberal Democrats.
The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 went much further than the 1832 Act towards equal representation around the country. It here reflected growth in the county's population. Thus for elections from 1885 dual-member West, Mid Surrey and East Surrey dissipated to allow the creation of 16 rather than just 2 metropolitan Surrey seats (Lambeth and Southwark which saw subdivision) and these "county" seats:
In 1918 the constituency was re-established in dwarf form, taking rural and nascent very suburban parts of South East Surrey ("Reigate") and North East Surrey ("Wimbledon"), and for the first time electing only one MP. It covered from the south of Croydon to the Kent and West Sussex borders. It was to remain centred on Lingfield, Oxted, Limpsfield, Godstone, Caterham and Woldingham.
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place from 1939 and by the end of this year, the following candidates had been selected;
^HALL, Her Honour Jean Graham’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, April 2014 accessed 22 Sept 2017[permanent dead link]