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All The Voting Tribes You'll Encounter This General Election

Everyone's talking about Workington Man, but what about the Fiat 500 Lib Dem?

by Simon Childs and Ruby Lott-Lavigna
05 November 2019, 12:57pm

From Logic Bro to Libby Dem, some of the voting tribes that will be ancountered this election time (Illustration by Esme Blegvad)

The gang's all here! There's "Essex Man" – my guy! Long time no see, "Worcester Woman"! And if it isn't "Mondeo Man" and "Aldi Woman" – how the heck are ya?

Every election comes with its archetypal voter, a key demographic that could swing the whole show. This year, according to analysis by London-based think-tank Onward, it's "Workington Man", a guy from the Cumbrian coastal town. This Rugby League-loving old fart has lived in his house for ten years, was educated at the university of life and voted Leave. He's been a Labour man since he started wearing long trousers, but doesn't like that Mr Corbyn. Pollsters believe his vote will be decisive if he can be convinced to break the habit of a lifetime and vote Tory, while a vote for the Brexit party might still deprive Labour of its heartland support.

According to the town's local paper, the people of Workington have taken unkindly to being typecast by some wipe-clean southern wonks, but who actually cares when they think anyway? They're merely a vessel for a bunch of stultifying assumptions made by a complacent political class.

The analysis does seem a bit reductive. After all, Workington Man is not the only kind of crucial voter up for grabs! Here, we profile the other electoral tribes whose vote could swing this knife-edge election.

WOKE-INGTON MAN

Often overheard in south London's smart modern-British restaurants playing out some Oedipal urge, attempting to annoy his visiting Tory parents by daringly saying, "I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is particularly radical at all, actually," when his mum was just trying to talk about the allotment. Kids these days!

Among friends, he is keen emphasise that he completely gets the concerns of the Jewish community about Labour's anti-Semitism scandal, but not so much that he'll stop laughing at sort-of-jokes on his favourite podcast that it's all a plot by the Israeli state to undermine the left.

CLUELESS LOGIC BRO

Arrives at the pub in a cloud of vape smoke from an industrial sized rig. Loudly discounts the opinions of anyone who hasn’t read the manifesto of each party in full. Carefully scrutinising the policy menu to deal with the empirical science of climate change, he ultimately becomes one of 300 Green voters in a key marginal, landing us with a Conservative government whose manifesto was written by a fracking lobbyist.

FAKE NEWS BOOMER

Was a classic swing voter until the referendum, but has been radicalised by a far-right Facebook group and has branched into trolling women MPs on Twitter. Tries to get into Facebook arguments with his kids when they share Jeremy Corbyn memes, but can't work the website so accidentally posts his reply as his status. Every argument eventually descends into repeated posts that read simply: "17.4 million voters". Has been in a long-term relationship with a woman from Portugal and plans to retire in Majorca, but wants to make sure Brexit happens first.

RELUCTANT LABOUR-VOTING ANARCHIST

Will spend the first half of the campaign being disappointed at the Labour party for not being pro-migrant and anti-police, before coming round to the idea that five more years of Tory rule will make things materially worse. Eventually, they will allow themselves to post one ironic pro-Corbyn meme the day before the party pledges to equip every police officer and border guard with a taser.

Quietly votes Labour in the end with the same 'oh well, fuck it' attitude as impulse-buying an expensive coat. After all, a four-day week and eased property legislation might mean more squat parties. Will end up hating the Labour party all the more in the long run, whatever the outcome.

FIAT 500 LIBBY DEM

Woke-ington Man's younger sister. Aspiring girl-boss but too self-aware to vote Tory. Graduated from Bristol and works in recruitment. A self-described empath, she sobbed along when Theresa May burst into tears as she announced her resignation. Cares about freedom of movement insofar as Brexit will affect her next interrailing trip. Thinks Boris Johnson is a "prat", but gets far more angry when discussing Jeremy Corbyn, who she describes as a "horrible little man" because of how his tax plans might impact her personal ten-year-plan of becoming a billionaire.

EXTREMELY PIOUS SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICT

The Facebook posts will start early – probably on the second day of the election. They will be formatted into paragraphs to manage the totally unnecessary volume of text, and the tone will be so sincere that it makes you want to punch the screen. They just cannot understand why anyone could possibly consider voting for a party other than the one they support. They will implore you "this election, to really *dig deep* and think about the future you want to see" after a 200-word anecdote about chatting to "a homeless man I often pass on the way to the bus, called Brian". Get ready to feel personally attacked for not canvassing!

THE HARD CENTRE

The affluent distant relative who probably used to do coke in the 80s when it was aspirational. He'll corner you at family Christmas events to talk politics – something he's only taken an interest in since Brexit threatened his mortgage. Vague amiable chat about politics being "pretty bonkers" at the moment is the thin end of the wedge. Before long he’s testing the waters with some light "Corbyn is a bit of a wally", before launching head-first into conspiracy theory about the Labour leader being a Russian plant to destabilise the country. Insists that the Lib Dems could win.

SHY MA

Your dad thinks she votes Tory like him, but she's been secretly voting Labour and attending local Momentum meetings since 2016 while pretending she has "book club".

NAYSAYER

Probably left-leaning but ready to drag absolutely everyone. That Boris Guy? Wanker. Corbyn? A joke. Doesn’t know who the leader of the Lib Dems is but thinks they’re irrelevant, obviously. Greens? Don’t make me laugh. Unwilling to offer any solution, but quite liked David Miliband for some mysterious reason. Wouldn’t have voted for him though. Total nihilist. Might vote for a candidate who offers to legalise weed.

@SimonChilds13 / @RubyJLL

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