The attempt to identify the key swing voter in this December’s election as ‘Workington Man’ has been met with anger from town residents.

But the political analyst who coined the term said it was “not a judgment on the people of Workington”.

London-based think tank Onward, led by former Theresa May adviser Will Tanner, published a report yesterday into the political lay of the land as a prospective roadmap to victory for each of the parties fighting the December 12 election, decided by Parliament on Tuesday.

Drawing on the report, national media yesterday made liberal use of the phrase ‘Workington Man’, described by Mail Online as an “older, white, non-graduate voter living in rugby league towns in the north”.

Mail Online added that this idealised voter - which must be captured by any party hoping to win December’s election, as having “lived in his home for more than 10 years as either a council tenant or owner occupier. 

“He favours security over freedom, thinks the economy and national culture is moving away from his views, and voted Leave.”

But a number of people in Workington and the town’s Labour Party MP Sue Hayman lambasted the phrase as an insult to the town’s residents.

Mrs Hayman said: “There are many different types of people in Workington with different opinions and different concerns.

“To lump everyone together and to describe the voter in Workington as a man I just think is deeply patronising and misogynistic.”

But Will Tanner, director of Onward, said: “I think Sue Hayman has misinterpreted the analysis we have done.

“It’s not us forgetting about or ignoring female voters, rather referencing the fact that the archetypal key swing voter that’s likely to have a disproportionate effect in this election, in which the Conservatives will likely want to target and which Labour will want to hold onto, tends to be a white, older, typically non-university educated man, living in a northern rugby league town, and who probably voted leave.

“So it’s more actually a function of maths, rather than a function of any judgment we have made.”
Mark Jenkinson, deputy leader of Allerdale Council and Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Workington, said the term should not be taken out of context.

“Over the last 20 years we had a number of these profiles, we have to take it in the spirit in which it’s meant,” he said.

“What the report says is that this profile has the ability, in some places, to swing the vote. 

“What men and women in Workington are telling us is day in, day out, is that they want to get Brexit done so the Government can get back to its priorities. You have to take this profile into context and not take it too seriously.”

But other Workington residents said the term felt insulting.

Joseph Clark, 67, from High Harrington, said: “It’s very much a stereotype by southerners, who think they are more intellectual than we are.

“There is no harm in being working class and applying a level of common sense. This profile is condescending and demeaning.

“We are the backbone of this country and have provided the wealth of this country.”

Keith Matthews, 77, has lived and worked in the town all his life. He felt the term ‘Workington Man’ was insulting, implying the town’s population was uneducated.

“Workington is never mentioned on the TV. Now we’re nationwide,” he said.

“They don’t bother about the north when they’re in power. Now they want to be in power again they’re bothered about us. I’m sick of politicians. I’m not voting. I’ve had enough of them all.”