Another of Labourís surprising Kent victories, before 1997 Labour had only held this seat once (1945-50) since it was created in 1918.
Gillingham is the home of one-half of the former Chatham Royal Navy dockyard, which closed in 1984, and the more significant half of the redevelopment that has taken place here.
While the tourist trade is based at the historic base in Chatham and Aylesford, Gillingham boasts the Chatham marina development, with the creation of leisure, business and residential facilities. The South-East Development Agency considers this area to be so important a part of its redevelopment strategy that it is headquartered here.
This constituency has been no slouch in terms of attracting inward investment. Industrial expansion on brownfield sites has also been encouraged, although as a result protecting the small remaining amount of green space has become something of a priority.
This regeneration, with the Gillingham Business Park created in 1978, has been an important counter-balance to the dockyardís closure. Unemployment has now dropped below the national average, and regional strategies for financial services, engineering and design sectors look set to continue the renaissance.