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Essex man

From Academic Kids

Essex man is a stereotype popular in the United Kingdom — a person of a working class background, with aspirations to own property and shares. Usually used as a pejorative, the term implied a stereotypical white lower middle-class Tory supporter who drove a Ford, lived in a council house (subsidized housing), resented foreigners, and avoided tax wherever possible.

The term "Essex man" refers to a group of people who live in the southeast of England (not always in the county of Essex), but the true Essex man lived at the London end of Essex — his parents were genuine eastenders who had moved out of London after the Second World War destroyed much of London's East End.

"Essex man" describes a group which, prior to the 1980s, would have been expected to vote on class lines for the Labour Party. However, Essex men and women were viewed as the bedrock of support for Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party in her three election victories in 1979, 1983 and 1987, and their unofficial spokesman was Norman Tebbit, a local Member of Parliament and a loyal supporter of Mrs Thatcher.

The OED lists the earliest reference to the Essex man as one from 1990 in The Sunday Telegraph although it is believed to have been in use from the mid-1980s. Harold Wilson coined the phrase Selsdon man in the 1970s to describe a person with comparable characteristics and this helped influence the creation of the term. Owing to the similarities in the politics of Thatcher's Britain and Reagan's America the contemporary term Reagan Democrat is roughly analogous to Essex man.

Portraits of Essex man include Harry Enfield's Loadsamoney and Ian Dury's Billericay Dickie.

See also Essex girl.

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