Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Voter profiles of the past

Representations of Pebbledash People, Holby City Woman, the Wristband generation and Selsdon Man Image copyright Getty Images/BBC
Image caption Not all political marketing personas were as well known as Worcester Woman or Mondeo Man

Political parties, media commentators and marketing gurus have long been keen to identify tribes of voters - from Essex Man to Worcester Woman. Who else has made the electoral hit list over the years?

Pebbledash People

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Image caption Pebbledash People were not known for their flamboyance

Pebbledash People were identified by market researchers Experian and the UK Data Service as part of the analysis of 52 postcode categories.

They were careful with money, had good sense and "kept their wilder emotions under control".

A typical Pebbledash Person would buy convenience food from a petrol station to eat in front of the television, or on special occasions might visit a "cheaper restaurant". They watched soap operas and disliked programmes about antiques.

They were described as unfashionable, and enjoyed "the glamour found in the cinema, the TV or a weekly magazine".

Named after the textured roughcast cloaking their houses, which architecture writer Hugh Pearman described as "ineffably suburban and ineffably untrendy," the Pebbledash People were thought to be the Tories' target voter in 2001.

They should not be confused with Experian's other profiles, which included Smokestack Shiftworkers, whose "small houses are typically brightly painted and well maintained" or Suburban Mock Tudors, who "eat non-traditional breads" and were not interested in money-off coupons.

Holby City Woman

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Image caption Holby City Woman was interested in health and education

Writing in the British Politics Review in 2010, Mariette Christophersen described Holby City Woman as a married mother of young children, in her 30s or early 40s, earning an average wage working in the public sector.

Her political priorities were health, education and care for the elderly.

She was similar to the much-feted Worcester Woman who was the swing-voter targeted by New Labour in 1997. A mother of modest means in her 30s, she helped Tony Blair romp to a landslide victory.

Ms Christophersen said Holby City Woman was a floating voter whose support was "pivotal" in winning the election.

Unusually for voter profiles, Holby City Woman had a definite appearance - she looked like Patsy Kensit who played nurse Faye Morton in the long-running BBC medical drama.

Conservative strategists who came up with Holby City Woman seemed to have ignored others of the original's traits - the fictional Faye Morton had four ex-husbands (including two who died in mysterious circumstances), tumultuous workplace love affairs, and was shot in the back by a colleague wielding a crossbow.

The Wristband Generation

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Image caption The Wristband Genration were students, identified by Conservative David Davis

The Wristband Generation were students with a moral conscience.

When bidding for leadership of the Conservatives in 2005, David Davis defined a new demographic. "I want to win the wristband generation for the Conservative Party", he said.

Mr Davis believed the wearers of bracelets to show their support for a chosen cause wanted a government to help them with tuition fees and affordable housing, but also a government that shared their ethics.

"They display their intolerance of racism with their white and black bands," said Davis.

"The blue bands have raised money to highlight awareness of bullying. This generation wants a government that helps their neighbour."

In a similar vein, but with different priorities, was ex-cabinet minister Stephen Byers' Bacardi Breezer Generation. Byers urged Labour to get in touch with 18 to 25 year olds "in danger of being lost to the democratic process".

Selsdon Man

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Image caption Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson coined the term "Selsdon Man"

Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson coined the term "Selsdon Man" following a 1970 Conservative policy conference at Selsdon Park Hotel. The Tories had outlined monetarist and free-market policies as solutions to the country's unemployment and inflation problems.

"Selsdon Man is designing a system of society for the ruthlessness and the pushing, the uncaring. His message to the rest is 'you're out on your own'", Wilson said.

He thought the name would become a byword for greed and scupper Tory election dreams, but the tactic backfired and appealed to the emerging wealthy classes. Edward Heath steered the Conservatives to a shock win.

Selsdon Man arguably spawned the Essex Man - a brash, self-made young businessman who benefited from the entrepreneurial wealth created by Thatcherite policies.

Selsdon Man should not be confused with Piltdown Man, after whom he was named. Piltdown Man was a skeleton touted as Darwin's missing link, but turned out to be a hoax involving the skull of an orang-utan.

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