Saturday 2 November 2019

A deprivation by constituency chart

Yesterday I decided to update a little chart I made after the 2017 General Election. It was inspired by a histogram that Owen Boswarva made and the idea was very simple: put England's 533 constituencies into 10 columns, with the most deprived on the left and least deprived on the right, and then colour it by party. The image below is the result. UPDATE: I have now done a full-UK version of this - see below. Also includes an animation and the individual frames which show one party at a time. Read the notes on the UK chart for more information.

Link to slightly higher resolution version

Full size version

Easier to decipher as a gif




Liberal Democrats


Sinn Féin

Plaid Cymru


Independent (at 2017 General Election)


I did this out of curiosity the last time and then after speaking to my colleague Philip Brown about data, elections and suchlike I decided to update and try to improve the older chart, which was informative but a bit of an assault on the eyeballs. I then saw that the House of Commons Library team re-ran their analysis aggregating the English Indices of Deprivation for the 533 English constituencies, so that was all I needed. And, by the way, the House of Commons Library team are in my opinion doing some of the best data curation, manipulation and analysis out there - really great team. 

Of course, the results are hardly surprising but I didn't expect the sorting to be quite so stark. Naturally I tweeted the graphic and lots of people also found it interesting. So, I've done a slightly different version below which has the constituency names in the boxes - but you'll have to click and zoom to read those.

Full-size version here

Zoomed-in extract of the image above

It's not possible to do a full UK-wide one using a single dataset from the same time point, because the deprivation indices for each country of the UK are slightly different and cover different time period but it would be nice to have been able to - and at least in Scotland the colours would be quite spread across the deprivation spectrum. UPDATE: as you can see above, this last statement is true and I've also done the full-UK chart.

I also did one more version of the graphic, this time in a very long single column vertical one, the original of which is here, with a lower resolution one below. The tends to work great on a mobile but needs a bit of zooming in and out in most browsers. I've added the 'required swing %' figure to this one, showing what percent vote shift it would take for a constituency to change hands.

Click to see full size

Looks like this when full width on screen

There wasn't any great agenda or rhyme or reason behind this, I just wanted to see what it looked like and in particular how much the colours would be grouped and where the obvious anomalies were.

Given what I do for a living I'm duty-bound to point out the following obvious but important things:

  • Correlation is not the same as causation (yawn! but true).
  • I don't believe voting Labour makes you poor, or that voting Conservative makes you rich, as some people online seem to have implied - or even that 'the poor' vote Labour or 'the rich' vote Conservative - and I certainly wasn't trying to demonstrate either of these but understand that's sometimes how people see things.
  • There is a reasonably high amount of variation within most constituencies in relation to levels of deprivation, although at the top and bottom of the scale a lot less than you might imagine - I'm currently working on a project all about this kind of thing.
  • Colours - they are the html values for the party colours from the respective party websites.
  • The aggregation method used to derive the constituency rankings could be done a number of different ways, and therefore can produce slightly different results based on how you do it but the order of places would always be broadly the same.

That's all for now.