Conservatives win Workington with 9.7% swing from Labour

The Conservatives have taken the Workington seat from Labour in a huge swing. 

Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote, knocking Labour’s Sue Hayman into second. 

The result represented a stunning 9.7 per cent swing for the Tories, in a seat that has been Labour since 1918, apart from a brief period in the 1970s. 

The constituency voted 61 per cent in favour of Brexit during the 2016 Referendum

Workington, in Cumbria, had been a key target for Boris Johnson‘s party, with attracting the Workington man seen as crucial to Tory hopes of a majority. 

The Conservatives pulled off a massive coup by securing the symbolic seat, overturning a 3,000 majority to triumph by 4,000 votes. 

Labour’s ‘red wall’ of Brexit-backing strongholds imploded throughout the night, with the Conservatives earning huge swings in several seats. 

Redcar saw a massive 15.5 per cent swing to the Conservatives, Bishop Auckland turned blue with a 9.5 per cent swing and Burnley went Tory with a 9.6 per cent swing.

Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s former seat, saw a 12.8 per cent swing to the Conservatives. 

The Tories took a succession of other Labour seats across the north of England and in Wales, including Blythe Valley, Scunthorpe, Wolverhampton North East, West Bromwich East, Stockton South, Darlington, Peterborough, Blackpool South, Wrexham and the Vale of Clwyd.

They also narrowly held Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green with a majority of 1,062. 

Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote in Workington, a traditional Labour safe seat

Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote in Workington, a traditional Labour safe seat

Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote in Workington, a traditional Labour safe seat

Conservative candidate Ian Levey won in Blyth Valley tonight, the first time the Tories won the seat since 1935

Conservative candidate Ian Levey won in Blyth Valley tonight, the first time the Tories won the seat since 1935

Conservative candidate Ian Levey won in Blyth Valley tonight, the first time the Tories won the seat since 1935

The term Workington Man is a reference to ‘an older, white, non-graduate man from the north of England with an interest in rugby league and a tendency to vote Labour’.

This demographic, according to a Tory think-tank, was who the PM had to win over to gain a majority.  

Workington Man is the brainchild of Lord O’Shaughnessy, a former Director of Policy for David Cameron, who wrote a report for Onward, a group which was founded by Will Tanner, a former adviser to Theresa May, 

According to the group, this voter has lived in his home for more than ten years as either a council tenant or owner occupier. 

How Labour’s red wall crumbled to dust: seat by seat 

Blyth Valley, 11.30pm

Workington, 1.30am

Darlington, 1.30am

Peterborough, 1.45am

Wrexham, 1.50am

Leigh, 1.59am 

Copeland remained Conservative, 2.27am

Stockton South, 2.35am

Blackpool South. 2.35am

Wolverhampton North East, 2.39am

Redcar, 2.44am

Ynys Mon, Anglesey, 2.48am 

West Bromwich West, 2.48am 

Bishop Auckland, 2.49am 

Burnley, 2.52am

Scunthorpe, 3.09am

Bridgend, 3.09am

Hyndburn, 3.09am

Stroud, 3.14am 

Gedling, 3,16am 

High Peak, 3.17am


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

He works in a skilled manual trade or in a lower managerial role and is likely to live in a town or rural area rather than a city. He is more supportive than most people of a strong leader who does not have to bother with Parliament.

The Workington Man wants government to prioritise apprenticeships rather than cut the cost of student loans and thinks it should promote a shared sense of national identity over a diversity of identities.

He is more likely than the rest of the population to think crime is a major issue facing the country and twice as likely to think immigration is a major issue.

He is particularly sceptical about the benefits of globalisation and thinks we have a special responsibility to protect local institutions such as pubs and post offices from closure.

The use of voter stereotypes as a targeting tactic dates back to at least Margaret Thatcher’s repeated electoral wins in the 1980s where the working-class ‘Essex man’ switched allegiance from Labour to the Tories.

Voter stereotypes used during previous elections include the 1996 ‘Mondeo man’, the 1997 ‘Worcester woman’, and the 2003 ‘Bacardi Breezer Generation’ of 18 to 25-year-olds, among others.

And this time, the Tory targeting of the Workington Man was a success.

The result came after a dramatic exit poll showed the Tories are on track to rack up 368 seats in the first December election for nearly a century, with Labour collapsing to 191 – down 71 on 2017.

The bombshell numbers would give Mr Johnson a huge Commons majority of 86, the biggest since Margaret Thatcher’s third victory in 1987, and more than enough to fulfill his vow to ‘get Brexit done’.

Workington statistics: Fewer graduates, higher unemployment and more over-65s than the national average


Sex: 49.3% male, 50.7% female

Unemployment: 9.2% (average for England – 4.3%)

Have a degree-level qualification: 15% (average for England – 27.4) 

Age breakdown v average for England: 

0 – 15: 17.9% (19.1); 16 – 64: 61% (62.8); Over 65: 21.1% (18) 

Ethnicity: 85.4% white (UK average – 86), 20.2 BME 

First language: 92% English 

Place of birth: 83.5% England, 9.4%, other countries outside the UK and Ireland

Life expectancy – 

Male: 78.9 (average for England – 79.5)

Female: 82.3 (83.1)

Relationship status: 46.6% married, 34.6 single

Four most common religions: 59.4% Christian, 24.7 no religion, 5 Muslim, 1.5 Hindu.   

Sources: Cumbria Intelligence Observatory, Workington NHS, ONS.

By contrast Mr Corbyn looks to have stewarded his party to its worst performance since 1935 and plunged it into a seething civil war – despite his allies claiming earlier that high turnout might have helped him pull off a surprise.

Early results bore out the extraordinary exit poll findings, with the Tories overturning an 8,000 majority to rip the former mining area of Blythe Valley from Labour’s grip for the first time ever. The party’s candidate won by 700 votes after securing an incredible 10.2 per cent swing.

There were also jaw-dropping gains in Bishop Auckland – which had never elected a Conservative MP in 134 years – Leigh, and the Vale of Clywd.

Speaking from his count in Islington North tonight, where he was re-elected for the tenth time, Jeremy Corbyn said he would not lead the party in any future election campaign. 

‘This is obviously a very disappointing night for the party’, he said.

‘In the election campaign we put forward a manifesto of hope, a manifesto of unity, and a manifesto that would help to write the wrongs and the injustices and inequalities that live in this country. 

‘However, Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country it has overridden so much of a normal political debate. And I realise it has contributed to the result the Labour party has seen tonight across this country. 

‘I want to also make it clear that I will not lead the party in any future election campaign.’ 


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