Changing Political Landscapes of Britain

Three days after the UK general election, the formation of a new (old) Conservative government is in full preparation with few new faces on the one side, and soul searching and the search for new faces on the other side of the political spectrum. There has also been plenty of joy for map lovers (even if they may not be equally happy with the outcome), including my own map series of the winning parties in each constituency. The following map series uses the same approach but shows further details on how things have changed in the political landscape of the country compared to the 2010 general election:

Map views of the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom
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Views of the 2015 UK election

The 2015 general election in the United Kingdom has ended with a very unexpected outcome resulting in a much clearer outcome as predicted in the polls. The Conservative Party with the old and new Prime Minister David Cameron has secured a majority in the new parliament, winning 331 of the 650 seats. As the BBC concludes: “The Conservatives win a 12-seat majority in parliament as Labour are almost wiped out by the SNP in Scotland and the Liberal Democrats suffer major losses.”
Looking at the election results in a conventional map, this very clear outcome becomes even stronger, with much of the map being dominated by blue (for the Conservatives) and yellow (for the Scottish National Party). Very little consolation for the main losers, but a more honest picture emerges, when changing the perspective, as shown in the following map series. The hexagon map shows the real political representation as it emerges in the Westminster Parliament, with every constituency being coloured according to the winning political party there. The third map in the series is an equal-population projection which gives every person living in the UK the same amount of space, so that the true picture of how people are being represented is painted. The latter differs slightly from the constituency view, as the constituencies in the UK are not only differing in (land area) size, but also in population size (which is part of a critical debate about electoral reform). So here is the complete picture of the 2015 general election:

Map views of the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom
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Visualising your UK constituency

The UK general election is fast approaching. Following the first almost-debate of the would-like-to-be Prime Ministers the battle for the ‘correct’ interpretation of the state of the nation has come into its final stage. Statistics are easy to twist, and there is never an absolute truth in them. In a collaboration with the Office for National Statistics I was involved in the creation of a little interactive visualisation feature that sheds light on some key statistics that show life in the constituencies around the country. Using a conventional map and a hexagon cartogram of the United Kingdom we looked at house prices, income, public sector employment, education, age, migration, and health which can be interactively explored and compared in both map views. The following map is one example from that feature, showing the share of people not born in the United Kingdom:

Cartogram and map showing the share of the population born abroad in the United Kingdom
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Rising high: A brief history of the housing market

House price monopoly would be a better name for what has turned into a defining political issue ahead of the 2015 general election. As the ONS states in its latest release of long-term housing sales data, “the average price of sold houses in England and Wales has more than doubled since 1995” and “nearly a million properties were sold in 2013.” The dynamics of the housing market is about more than people looking for a place to live. It has become a substantial part of the British economy.
The following cartogram animation puts this trend into a vivid perspective. It shows the absolute value of all housing stock sold in a year for the regions of England as well as the boroughs of London, which itself becomes ever more dominant over the past two decades. Only in economic weaker times it loses some of its pace compared to the rest of England, but stays way ahead of any other region. The animation also takes the absolute value displayed in each map into account by resizing England according to the total value represented in each map, so that the full cartogram itself grows (and shrinks after the crash in 2008) over time:

Cartogram animation of sold housing value from 1995 to 2014
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20’s not so plenty: Road safety in Britain

“20’s Plenty for Us is a voluntary organisation that campaigns for the introduction of a default 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit for residential streets and urban streets. By seeking to obtain implementation across a complete local authority or community then the organisation believes that worthwhile speed reductions can be achieved without the usual physical calming features.” (Wikipedia) In collaboration with Rod King of 20’s Plenty and Danny Dorling of Oxford University we looked at how far the campaign has gotten so far with convincing local authorities to implement a speed limit of 20 mph in residential areas. Today 12.5 million people live in areas where cars travel more slowly. Although nationally pedestrian deaths on the road are still rising, it marks a first step towards more road safety by a very simple measure. Looking at the spatial patterns, the implementation can be observed all across the United Kingdom, though there appear to be very little on a conventional map. Looking at the issue through an equal-population projection reveals the real extent and puts a spotlight on these areas that really matter for this measure: the most densely populated areas. Here it can be seen that the majority of Scottish people live in areas where 20 mph zones are prevalent, just as the Liverpool-Manchester region (and Sheffield) have seen very successful campaigns, while in other parts of the country the red patches are still covering very large shares of the population:

Cartogram visualisations global forest production, consumption and trade
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British War Deaths

2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. As all around Europe, the British government made extensive plans to commemorate this accordingly (Prime Minister David Cameron’s words of the commemoration saying something about the British people like the Diamond Jubilee celebration were commented critically, while meanwhile commercial advertisers have discovered the emotional power of World War I). So-called Remembrance Day in November saw the display of a poppy field at the Tower of London as a commemoration of soldiers who died in war, a symbol which was introduced following the aftermath of World War I in 1921. But while today’s times are often referred to as the post-war era since the end of World War II, wars keep being fought, and soldiers from countries such as the United Kingdom keep dying in conflicts around the world. Last months the Independent Newspaper published figures from the UK Ministry of Defence (which I spotted on one of Alan Parkinson’s blogs) listing all 7,145 British military deaths since World War Two (including a count of deaths in Northern Ireland). I used that data and edited it according to today’s geography (such as splitting the number of British casualties during the 1950-1954 UN intervention in Korea equally between South and North Korea or assigning the deaths in the former British colonies to today’s independent countries) to draw the following Worldmapper-style cartogram that shows how far we are from living in a post-war era:

Map of the distribution of British War Deaths since 1945
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