Insights from the UK and beyond
Can someone make my simple wish come true? Do you live in North London? Is it you?
Reading Wendy Cope’s poem “Lonely Hearts” last night made me think of the people who, apparently, hold the key to this election.
I’ve lost count of the number of such groups that have been identified over the past few weeks but, depending on what report you read, you can take your pick from Motorway Man, or Middle England Ms, Mr & Mrs Grey Vote… to name just a few.
“Meet Motorway Man, the decisive voter in Election 2010,” encouraged The Independent newspaper back in February. Motorway Man — who has also featured on Newsnight — apparently lives in marginal constituencies along and bounded by the M1 and M6, running up to Ed Balls’ seat. He’s a useful target, we are told, because his (or her) political allegiances are loose.
But politicians dashing off to service stations to court this elusive beast should pause. According to researchers at De Montford University, it is in fact the ‘grey vote’ that could hold the balance of power in the election. These people are also thinking twice about traditional party loyalties.
So, off the motorway and on to the retirement home? Wait – not so fast. According to Red magazine, it’s the female “middle youth” vote that’ll dictate the outcome. This group of intelligent, thirty-somethings are — like their motorway and greyer counterparts — also wavering in their allegiances. Red’s survey earlier this year showed half had not yet decided who to vote for.
So, Gordon Brown and David Cameron need to look for a woman in their mid-30s, but who feels like a 55-year-old (or vice versa), preferably based, not in North London as Wendy Cope’s lonely heart hopes, but somewhere near Donington Park services (that way they can do Newsnight at the same time) and the election’s in the bag.
If they can’t find this mythical beast, perhaps they should have a read of this interesting article in Prospect magazine, which offers some useful tips.