Political Landscapes of the United Kingdom in 2017

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How much has the United Kingdom changed following the second general election within two years, and following the referendums on independence in Scotland in 2014 and the membership of the European Union in 2016? Each poll appeared to have had a significant impact on the political debate and the next vote which never seemed far away. As such, the 2017 general election looks like the culmination of the preceding ballots where all of the previous debates got a more or less prominent mention during the electoral campaign. Ultimately this led to some significant changes in the political landscapes of the country with each corner of the United Kingdom being affected by these dynamics.
Politicians, spin doctors and commentators quickly aim to interpret the outcome according to their views. In contrast, the following series of maps showing some key statistics and data from the election results aims to provide a more neutral as well as more comprehensive look at the underlying geographies. It shows different angles on key characteristics such as winners and runners-up in each constituency, changes in votes, vote shares of the two largest parties, turnout and changes in turnout between the last two general elections.
In this feature, different cartographic techniques are used to show how the electoral landscape in the UK is shaped not only by physical space, but also by political dimensions as well as from the perspective of people. The conventional (land area) map is therefore complemented by a hexagon cartogram where each parliamentary constituency is represented by a hexagon (some changes in constituencies over the past decades are reflected in split and merged hexagons), and by a gridded population cartogram where each area is resized according to the number of people living in that area.
Each of the three maps therefore provides a unique insight into the diverse spatial patterns of politics that emerged from the 2017 general election. To fully understand the new political landscapes of the United Kingdom, only a combination of different perspectives as shown here can help to gain a more complete picture. Geography matters not only in its physical dimension, but just as much in its social and political spaces that are depicted in these maps.
Here is the ultimate cartographic wrap-up of the 2017 general election in 21 maps:

Conservative vote share
Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017: Conservative Vote Share
(click for larger and labelled version)

Labour vote share
Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017: Labour Vote Share
(click for larger and labelled version)

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Britain elects: The changes

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Nothing has changed” was the infamous quote made by Theresa May during this year’s UK election campaign over a policy u-turn. This marked the beginning of a reverse of the Conservative support in the polls which eventually led to the changes that changed the political geography of the United Kingdom significantly when compared to the just as surprising result of the 2015 election. The following map uses the same approach as the previous map series showing the winning party in each constituency, but adds further detail to the picture by also highlighting how seats have changed between the last and this election:

Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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Britain elects: The results (summer edition 2017)

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The United Kingdom went to the polls…again. Following the general election in 2015 and the referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union in 2017, the British electorate had yet another chance to have their say about the country’s future. After the then prime minister David Cameron delivered referendum which he had promised to win the 2015 election, the British electorate voted for leaving the European Union by a small majority of 51.9% which led to Cameron’s resignation. Theresa May took over leadership of the Conservative party and became Prime Minister in July 2016. After first resisting calls for a general election, she eventually decided otherwise in the expectation of strengthening her conservative majority during the Brexit process. However, the election on June, 8th led to the opposite. The Conservative party lost its majority in parliament with the Labour party making significant gains. The following map series shows the result of the election from three perspectives. The conventional map (left) provides the most common perspective, while the hexagon-map gives a clearer picture of the distribution of parliamentary seats where each seat is represented by a hexagon (middle, changes in constituencies results in some hexagons being split). The gridded population cartogram (right) provides the most accurate depiction of how many people are represented by each party, as it gives each person in the UK an equal amount of space (while constituencies vary sometimes significantly in their population size):

Gridded Population Map and cartogram series of the UK General Election 2017
(click for larger and labelled version)

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EU Migration to and from the UK

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The recent UK government defeat on its Brexit bill by the House of Lords based on the demand that ministers should guarantee EU nationals’ right to stay in the UK after Brexit was just the latest tale in the debate about EU migration and the United Kingdom’s role in it. The topic of migrants in the UK was an important element of the EU referendum campaigns in 2016 which led to the decision to leave the European Union. The government’s position sees the question of the rights of EU migrants as part of the upcoming negotiations with the EU where also the rights of UK citizens living in the European Unions need to be agreed. In terms of absolute numbers, this is a much smaller share of affected people (approximately 1.2 million UK citizens are estimated to live in other EU countries) compared to other EU citizens living in the UK (estimated at around 3.2 million). The following two maps show these numbers in comparison in their geographical dimension. Using the most recent annual estimates (published in late 2016 by the ONS and further data from the UN) the cartograms show the countries of the EU (excluding the UK) distorted by the number of UK citizens who are living in another EU country (left map) and by the number of other EU citizens who are living in the UK. The countries are shaded by their ratio between the number of UK migrants in the EU and the number of other EU migrants in the UK:

Migration maps between the UK and the EU
(click for larger version)

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The EU Referendum

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EU Referendum 2016 Cartogram
(click for larger version)

The decision has been made: 17,410,742 people of the United Kingdom’s 65 million population voted for leaving the European Union. These are about 26.8% of the UK’s resident population, or 37.4% of the electorate in this EU referendum. It also equals 51.9% of the valid votes cast, as stated in the official figures from the electoral commission. Continue reading

In Focus: May 2015 – A Climate Change in UK Politics

Political InsightFollowing the full cartographic roundup of this year’s general election earlier this week, here comes a related piece of research. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (September 2015, Volume 6, Issue 2) Danny Dorling and I plotted the geography of an unexpected Conservative General Election victory.
What happened of most importance in 2015 was the rapid acceleration of a trend that has been underway in UK voting since 1979 and can be seen as having its origins in the 1960s: the increasingly uneven spread of Tory voters. The graph shows the minimal proportion of Conservative voters who would have to move seat within Britain if the Conservatives were to have an even distribution of the vote in that part of the UK at each and every General Election held between 1915 and 2015. In 2015 that proportion peaked at 19.9 per cent. When the UK becomes more polarised social pressures rise, people begin to separate more and more in their views, incomes and locations.

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