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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
West Midlands: Remember Worcester Woman?
Nick Watson
Nick Watson
The Politics Show
West Midlands

Worcester Cathedral
The idyllic setting of Worcester belies the battle to come...

If you need a reminder who Worcester Woman is - she is that near-mythical creature said to hold in her hands, the keys to Downing Street.

For the political party which can woo her with its charms, she is the secret to electoral success.

The internet encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, sums her up as "a white collar professional who worries about quality of life issues" and someone who would "previously have voted Conservative, but who swung to vote for Tony Blair's Labour Party".

It is a neat definition as it's also geographically centred on the type of small provincial city in the English Midlands that Labour had found next to impossible to win before Tony Blair came along and gave the party of the horny-handed sons of toil a makeover to make it more voter-friendly.

Love at first sight..?

David Cameron
Will Cameron cut-a-dash with Worcester Woman..?

The big question now is, without Tony at the helm who will Worcester Woman fall for next?

Will she find Gordon as gorgeous as Tony or will she offer her charms to dashing David Cameron instead?

A lot depends on whether Cameron can convince Worcester Woman and the rest of the swing voters that his party has changed and is offering new ideas.

Part of that strategy has seen the creation of the so-called "A-list" which aims to give preference to female and ethnic minority candidates in seats where the Conservatives have a chance.

Of the region's 16 Conservative MPs, only two are women and none of them come from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In the balance

Staffordshire Moorlands
Karen Bradley will stand in Staffordshire Moorlands... not out in the cold we hope!

Already the party has gone some way to addressing that imbalance.

Harriet Baldwin has been chosen to stand in West Worcestershire as a successor to Sir Michael Spicer.

Karen Lumley will do battle with Labour Chief Whip Jacqui Smith in Redditch and Karen Bradley will stand in Staffordshire Moorlands.

Back in Worcester, the Conservatives have gone down quite a different route and chosen a white male who is the son of a peer.

Robin Walker, is the son of Lord Walker, who, as Peter Walker, was a stalwart member of both the Heath and Thatcher governments and was Worcester's MP from 1961 to 1992.

The battle of Worcester

Worcester Cathedral
Worcester stands between the political pillars of left and right

He is looking forward to the challenge of beginning a political dynasty: "To have this chance to fight and win for a city I love has already realised one of my lifetime ambitions.

Worcester is going to be one of the key battlegrounds for the next election and I want to make sure that the Conservatives carry the day.

"The Conservative party is setting the agenda nationally and in Worcester and there is a real sense of optimism in the people I have met since my selection.

"I want to hear from a broad range of people in Worcester over the next few months so that we can keep the lead we have on local issues."

At the moment, Mike Foster is the city's Labour MP and the recipient of Worcester Woman's largesse at the polls but there is evidence the affair is on the wane.

In 1997 Mr Foster, now an Assistant Whip in the Blair government, won with a thumping majority of 7,425.

That edged downwards in 2001 to a still healthy 5,766 but after 2005 it stands at a more vulnerable looking 3,144.

Our Political Editor Patrick Burns will be finding out if Worcester Woman could be about to change her allegiance.

If she does will it herald a change of Government?

Also in the programme...

Road works
Road works complete, but the problems persist

Our reporter Julie Peacock is on the road to misery in Stoke-on-Trent.

For thousands of motorists the completion of roadworks on the A500 has been greeted with great glee.

After years of delays and jams the road is finally open and the traffic is flowing freely - but it is not good news for everybody.

For the people of MacLagan Street it is the beginning of a hard road to battle for compensation after their homes were wrecked by vibrations, dust and noise caused during the roadworks.

Residents are now preparing their claims for compensation against the Highways Agency but they have been told they have to wait at least a year for the process to begin.

With only a handful of claims submitted so far, there are accusations that not enough is being done to alert people to the fact they may be entitled to a pay-out worth thousands of pounds per household.

The Politics Show

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SEE ALSO
The female vote
03 Apr 05 |  The Westminster Hour
If the label fits
08 Nov 05 |  Magazine
West Midlands
11 Sep 05 |  Politics Show

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