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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EU Referendum Statistics

Sanity is not statistical.” The political rhetoric in the aftermath of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom has brought us closer to Orwell’s infamous state of Airstrip One then one could have possibly envisaged. Each side of the debate twists and turns the statistics and ‘facts’ to keep supporting their argument, while neither political party has yet managed to end the political stalemate in the country, which finds itself in a state of ‘post-truth democracy‘ that it slowly entered during the pre-referendum campaigns. All sides claim what can be best explained with the German word ‘Deutungshoheit’ (a form of prerogative of interpreting the numbers behind the result as the ultimate truth). The real truth perhaps is that there is no truth, and the deeper you delve into the results, the more complexity you find. So here are some more less-talked about findings that emerge when taking a second look at the EU referendum statistics.
As mentioned in my earlier piece on mapping the referendum outcome, of all those who were allowed to vote in this referendum, 13 million people did decide not to cast their vote, which – despite the higher than currently usual turnout – is a significant number that could have made a difference in the close outcome either way. Amongst those that voted the immediate picture that emerged from the polls published after the referendum was confusing. Several polls, such as those paid for by Lord Ashcroft and used for this analysis, agreed that the older people were those who were more likely to vote for Leave, while the youngest had the largest share voting for Remain. However, when taking the total electorate into account, and considering those who – according to SkyData – chose not to vote (or spoilt their ballot), this picture became far less clear than it first seemed:

EU Referendum 2016 Statistics: Age groups

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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

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
(click for larger version)

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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
(click for larger version)

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