There is a lot to be said for a British general election. It is brutally fast in delivering the people’s verdict. It uses technology that everyone can understand and is impossible to hack remotely. And in returning to Rick Wakeman’s prog-rock classic, the BBC has given it back its theme music.
But elections alone are a pretty thin form of democracy. Those who shifted from Labour to vote Conservative did so because of Jeremy Corbyn, because of the party’s far-left manifesto, because of Brexit, because they like Boris Johnson or a mix of these and others. The reasons will come out in surveys and interviews, but aren’t a formal part of the results and the government can ignore them. Continue reading “How to build democracy with technology away from elections”
The Office for National Statistics has just published its annual population estimates for mid-2018. I have updated a map I first produced two years ago, showing how each area’s population has changed between 2008 and 2018. As well as the colour-coding, you can see the percentage change by hovering over an area. The data is derived from sheet MYE5 of this spreadsheet.
There are 14 council areas whose populations have fallen over the decade (shown in blue), while the UK’s population as whole grew by 7.5%. Most of them are rural and coastal areas: in England they include Cumbria, the Isles of Scilly and (an exception to the rural bit) Blackpool; in Wales, Ceredigion, Powys and Blaenau Gwent. In Scotland, seven council areas have fallen in population, mostly on the west coast: Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles), Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire.
Continue reading “Littler Britain: the 14 council areas with falling populations”
A new version of my e-book Britdata is available here (£9.99) and on Leanpub (US$11.99 plus VAT). I have updated it with the recently-released population estimates from the Office for National Statistics, as well as information on how GDPR affects subject access requests.
Whether on Leanpub or direct, buyers automatically get updated versions when they come out – I have just sent this new edition to those who had already purchased it – and it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee. To give you an idea, you can read the introduction here and the list of contents here.
If I have a data journalism specialist subject, it is Britain. Writing about its public sector means finding out how to extract information on it through Freedom of Information, parliamentary written answers and open data on spending; knowing how to use official published data on Britain’s localities; and understanding the often-messy structure of local public services including councils, police, fire and NHS organisations.
I have just published a new e-book, Britdata: Finding data on the UK for journalists, researchers and campaigners, covering these areas and others, including tips on dealing with data and specific information on all of the UK’s top-tier local authority areas. A PDF of the introduction is here with more information here.
Continue reading “My new data journalism e-book, Britdata”
According to recently-released data from the ONS, there were 4.82 million more people in the UK on this date in 2016 than on 30 June 2006, an increase of 7.9%. Many cities and big towns are growing much faster, with Manchester, Coventry, Peterborough, Luton, Milton Keynes, Slough and Bournemouth all up by more than 15%.
But 22 top-tier council areas (unitaries or county councils) have actually seen a fall in population over that decade. With one exception, they fall into two groups. Some are badly-off remote rural areas including Cumbria, Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles) and Ceredigion in Wales. Others are badly-off urban and suburban areas in the north of England and Scotland including Blackpool, Knowsley and Sefton on Merseyside and several authorities around Glasgow – although not the City of Glasgow itself, which grew 8.2%.
Continue reading “Britain’s shrinking councils: Blackpool, Ceredigion… Kensington and Chelsea”