Home » We are ‘Stevenage women’ Keir Starmer is trying to woo to win election – he needs to sort huge issue to get our vote

AT the last general election it was the so-called Workington Man that PM Boris Johnson had to appeal to.

This demographic of older, white, Leave-voting men, who had mostly voted Labour before, was identified by a Tory think tank as vital to winning the keys to No 10.

Labour has identified towns like Stevenage as vital to winning the keys to No10 but what do locals think of Sir Keir Starmer?


Labour has identified towns like Stevenage as vital to winning the keys to No10 but what do locals think of Sir Keir Starmer?Credit: Getty

Workington, in Cumbria in the North West, was a Labour heartland which, barring three years of Tory control between 1976 and 1979, had been red for a century.

If the Tories win that then they’ve won the election, said the pollsters.

Conservative candidate Mark Jenkinson did just that. And the rest is history.

In 1997, it was Mondeo Man — the house and car-owning ex-Thatcherite disillusioned under John Major — that was the swing voter targeted by Tony Blair’s New Labour.

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In 2001, the key swing voter was Worcester Woman — a working-class mum in her 30s who worries about quality-of-life issues and has little interest in politics.

‘I preferred Jeremy Corbyn’

For next year’s election, step forward Stevenage Woman.

She is the swing voter Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer must apparently appeal to.

Preethi Vinoth says she always votes and she thinks Rishi Sunak is very capable


Preethi Vinoth says she always votes and she thinks Rishi Sunak is very capableCredit: John McLellan – Commissioned by The Sun
Sam says she isn't impressed by Sir Keir and thinks he's greedy


Sam says she isn’t impressed by Sir Keir and thinks he’s greedyCredit: John McLellan – Commissioned by The Sun
Brady Newman says she's right and that Labour is right to identify the cost of living crisis as a key issue for swing voters


Brady Newman says she’s right and that Labour is right to identify the cost of living crisis as a key issue for swing votersCredit: John McLellan – Commissioned by The Sun

Labour think tank Labour Together describe this new target, named after the Hertfordshire town, as mums, typically in their 40s, working full-time, who are struggling due to stagnant wages and the cost-of-living crisis.

She is said to be “disengaged from the maelstrom of daily politics” but allegedly “holds the balance of power in her hands”.

This demographic is “comfortable with immigration”, but not open borders, and does not want taxes to increase.

Its main concern is the cost of living.

The think tank’s Red Shift report highlights Stevenage Woman as a “previously unidentified voter group” that make up 22 per cent of the electorate, living in suburbs and towns predominantly in the Midlands, East and South of England.

Stevenage has been a Conservative constituency since 2010, with Stephen McPartland having won the last four elections.

He currently has a solid 8,562 majority.

So is the stereotype of Stevenage Woman correct? And what does she think of Keir Starmer and his Labour Party? We went to find out . . . 

Clar Friedrich, 43, said she hoped for a change and believes Sir Keir could be the answer to “celebrity politicians”.

She said: “I really like Keir. I think he will run the country like a business and not like a celebrity.

“I feel Rishi Sunak and other politicians act too much like celebrities, they are all ‘me, me, me’.”

But admin worker Simone Medina, 48, said: “I don’t know much about Keir, I don’t think he’s come up with any clear policies and I don’t know if I’d vote for him.

“I’m very anti-rich and feel like I can’t trust him.”

Theatre worker Emma Moore, 42, said she “always voted for Labour” but wasn’t keen on their leader, adding: “I preferred Jeremy Corbyn.”

Full-time mum-of-seven Marina Filby, who has just turned 50, was also dismissive of the Labour leader.

She said: “I would prefer anybody but Keir Starmer. I think he’s weak.

“I don’t like him, he doesn’t have original ideas and isn’t in touch with normal people.”

IT worker Preethi Vinoth, 38, said: “I don’t know much about Keir but I think Rishi is very capable and I will probably vote for him. I always vote.

“I always make a point of reading the politicians’ plans before voting. Rishi is a much stronger character than Keir.”

The think tank was spot on when it comes to Stevenage Woman’s No1 concern — worries about soaring costs united everyone we spoke to.

Mum Brady Newman, 41, who has three kids aged 22, 15 and 13, said: “I’m concerned about the cost-of-living crisis, I have to work two jobs.

“And I’m concerned about the cost of energy bills.”

Full-time mum-of-one Laila Manning, 39, added: “I’m not a huge fan of Keir or politicians in general.

“The pandemic and Partygate scandal has left a bad taste.

“There needs to be a radical change and more help for families. My electricity bill is disastrous, my gas bill is ridiculous too.”

Foster carer and part-time bus driver Sam, 48, said: “I wouldn’t say who I could vote for at the moment but I’m not impressed with Keir Starmer.

Marina Filby says Starmer isn't in touch with normal people


Marina Filby says Starmer isn’t in touch with normal peopleCredit: John McLellan – Commissioned by The Sun
Diana Bolea says she thinks there won't be any change even if she votes


Diana Bolea says she thinks there won’t be any change even if she votesCredit: John McLellan – Commissioned by The Sun

“I think he’s greedy and it’s the typical ‘the rich get richer while the poor get poorer’. I don’t think he’ll benefit us at all.

“I have friends who have to go to local food banks to feed their children while all politicians sit there all cushty.”

Used as local insult

Contrary to claims that Stevenage Woman is politically “disillusioned”, the majority we spoke to were very clued up.

But for the few who did not care, it may be a hard sell to get them on board.

Mum-of-one Diana Bolea, 34, who works in retail, summed up the feeling, saying: “I don’t trust anything they say so I prefer to stay away.

“I feel even if I vote there won’t be a change, so why waste my time?”

None of the women we spoke to had heard of the Stevenage Woman description, but some said it has been used as a local insult.

Art teacher Jennifer Haverson, 35, who has two kids, said: “It’s a way of splitting up the classes — a Stevenage woman is posher than someone from Luton but may not be as posh as someone from another area in Hertfordshire.”

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From our time in Stevenage, it is clear Sir Keir — and indeed all politicians — have a lot to do to win over the town’s hard-working women.

But one thing that is apparent — there is not one Stevenage Woman but many, and should Labour believe she’s an individual, it will be at their peril.

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