From the Worcester Woman to the Mondeo Man, past General Election campaigns haven’t been short of terms coined to describe a median voter demographic that parties must win over to get a majority. And it would appear 2019 already has its frontrunner – the Workington Man.
A creation of the right-leaning think tank Onward, the Workington Man is over 45, white, without a degree, and voted Leave in 2016. The Conservatives must apparently win over the Workington Man, who resides in post-industrial, rugby league towns, if it is to win a majority.
Whatever you think of these sort of stereotyped ‘median voter’ concepts, the actual seat of Workington is a genuinely tight one. Workington has elected a Labour MP for the past 100 years and the incumbent Labour MP, Sue Hayman, is defending a majority of 3,925. However, Hayman voted Remain in 2016 and supports a second referendum, whilst almost 60% of her constituents voted Leave. This situation offers a unique opportunity for other parties, and the Conservatives will be encouraged by one poll for the Daily Mail last week, which found that they were on course to turn Workington around, with a 10-point swing from Labour. The Conservative candidate, Cllr Mark Jenkinson, will fancy his chances.
What could easily spoil the party for the Conservatives however, is a resurgent Brexit Party. For many so called ‘Workington Men’, voting Conservative would be seen as sacrilege after a life time voting Labour and hating the Tories. But the Brexit Party could offer them a less tarnished political home, and whilst it is unlikely to gain a majority, it may be enough to split the Leave vote and, ironically, deliver the reselection of a Remain supporting MP.