Electoral Calculus has developed a large database giving very detailed political and demographic information.
It is based on very small localities, usually consisting of a couple of streets or a few postcodes. These localities – officially called Census Output Areas – are the smallest geographic areas used to report the results of the 2011 Census. There are about 227,759 of these in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), having on average around 200 voters each.
Using Electoral Calculus models, we can estimate the political affiliation and attitudes of people within each locality, based on the demographic variation between each locality and its district council ward.
But we can also look at the data across the whole country. One interesting approach is to look at the localities that are extreme (either extremely high or extremely low) for each of twenty demographic and political measures. There are around 30 of these extreme localities. (In theory there should be 40 extreme places, but some are uninteresting, such as "least SNP area".) Together they provide an insight into the diverse political and demographic geography of the country.
This article lists the places that are extreme for the eight census measures used. Each section defines the measure and its meaning, and describes the two localities with the smallest and largest score on the measure.
Notes: Analysis excludes those output areas with fewer than 50 voters (or 50 employed adults for the occupation and social grade questions). If several areas share the same extreme value, then the most populous area is used. Census data is taken as at 2011. Political affiliation is given as at the 2015 General Election. Picture, Map and Data credits are at the end of this page.
The census asks (question KS202) people for their national identity. There are a number of possible answers, such as British, English, Scottish, and so on. Our chosen key indicator is the proportion of people who chose British or a combination which included British, such as Scottish-British and Welsh-British. The national average response was 29% of adults felt British or partly British. Generally UK born respondents were more likely to select English, Scottish and Welsh than non-UK born people.
The locality which feels the most British is a neighbourhood in Oldham. The streets around the junction of Chadderton Way, Ruskin Street and Davies Street (example postcode OL9 6DH) have 85% of its residents feeling British or partly British.
The area is mildly left-of-centre and strongly Labour-supporting. It narrowly voted to leave the EU and only 57% of its residents were born in Britain. The overall level of education and economic status is below average.
The least British locality is Ballater Place in the Douglas and Angus neighbourhood of Dundee (example postcode DD4 8SE). Only 1 of the 99 respondents declared themselves to be British or partly British, giving a nationwide low score of 1% British, with 91% of people identifying as Scottish.
The residents are mildly left-of-centre, strongly SNP-supporting, and mostly UK born. The area voted to leave the EU, and has education and economic indicators significantly below average.
|Economic Position||15° Left||10° Left||0°|
|National Position||8° Int||7° Int||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||52%||54%||52%|
On health, census respondents are asked to rate their own health on a five-point scale of Very Good, Good, Fair, Bad and Very Bad (question KS301). Our indicator is the percentage of people who answered 'Very Good'. The national average for this is 48%, so that approximately half the British people rates their health as very good.
The healthiest locality in Britain is in Westhill, just outside Aberdeen. The area consists of the streets Carnie Crescent, Carnie Place and Carnie Close (example postcode AB32 6HU).
In terms of health, an impressive 92% of the respondents felt that they had very good health, which is the highest in the country.
This locality is also fairly right wing, staunchly Conservative, internationalist and voted strongly to Remain in the EU referendum. Inhabitants feel British, and have good education and economic status. They are younger than average and have high social grades.
From the indicators, this appears to be a prosperous middle-class area for younger professionals.
The least healthy locality also happens to be in Scotland. Like many similar areas, it consists entirely of a retirement home, where the average age is 80 years old.
This particular home is in Airdrie on Inglefield Court (postcode ML6 9ET). Only 1% of the residents described their health as very good, though most thought that their health was good or fair.
Residents are also very left-wing, Labour supporters, very internationalist, strongly Remain in the EU referendum, UK born, and not well educated. Since almost all inhabitants are retired and not in employment, the census does not allocate Occupation or Social Grade categories, so these show a dummy level of 0% in the key indicators. But the SEC is reported for all residents, so the score of 28% reflects a focus on junior management and more routine work in their previous occupations.
This appears to be a residential retirement home in a traditional working-class area of Scotland.
|Indicator||Carnie Cr Pl Cl,|
|Economic Position||12° Right||40° Left||0°|
|National Position||15° Int||38° Int||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||31%||17%||52%|
A key political indicator comes from asking respondents which country they were born in. The census question QS203 asks this of all respondents. Our indicator looks at those people who were born in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, "GB Other" or "UK Other").
The national average for this measure is 88% (most people were born here), though the median level across localities is higher at 94%.
There are many localities which are 100% British-born, and the largest of these is in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. The locality consisting of Houseman Drive, Lowell Drive, Faulkner Place, Orwell Drive and Firbank Place in Longton (example postcode ST3 5RY) is the most British-born in the country by this measure.
The area is quite right-wing and very Nationalist, and voted by 82% to leave the EU. And people here say they are English rather than British. They are slightly older than the national average, and do not enjoy good health. The area is mildly below average for education and the economic indicators. Political affiliation is Conservative rather than UKIP or Labour.
In summary, this is a lower middle-class area which is getting by. There are no foreign-born inhabitants, but despite that there are very clear nationalist sentiments.
The least UK-born locality in the country is rather unexpectedly in the middle of the Suffolk countryside, and is officially an RAF Base. But RAF Lakenheath (example postcode IP27 9GN) is home to US Air Force units, and its main locality has only 6% of respondents who were born in Britain. A hefty 86% of the population was born in the USA.
Although most inhabitants will be unable to vote in British elections, demographics suggest that the area is extremely right-wing, quite nationalist and Conservative-inclined. Inhabitants are youthful and in good health, and with good jobs. Since most have foreign qualifications, the Education measure may be misleadingly low.
|Economic Position||12° Right||33° Right||0°|
|National Position||30° Nat||13° Nat||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||82%||49%||52%|
Education is not the most important demographic indicator, but it plays a useful secondary role. The census asks a couple of questions about educational attainment. The simplest (QS501) asks for the highest level of qualification gained. Results are expressed in terms of "Qualification Levels" which run from 1 (GCSE or equivalent) to 8 (PhD or equivalent). Our chosen indicator is the proportion of residents whose highest level of qualification is level 3 or above. This includes A-levels, higher education certificates, university degrees, etc. Across the nation, 39% of people have at least this much education.
The locality with the highest proportion of well-educated people is a residential block on Falmouth Road in the London borough of Southwark. The three buildings Bentham House, Shaftesbury Court and Russell Lodge (example postcode SE1 4JY) have an impressive 96% of residents with a good education.
The locality is quite right-wing, very internationalist and Lib Dem supporting. It voted 92% to Remain in the EU, and has a high proportion of foreign-born residents (17% from Europe, 22% from the rest of the world). The other economic indicators, such as occupation and SEC and social grade are also very high. It is a pretty young district, with an average adult age of just 32 years.
This appears to be a classic "yuppie" residential development with young urban educated professionals.
In a different large city, the least educated locality is a residential area in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow. The blocks of flats in Heron Street and Baltic Place (example postcode G40 3SR) have no residents with SVQ level 3 (Scottish Vocational Qualification) or a degree.
The residents are strongly Labour supporting, very left-wing, but balanced on the EU referendum. Mostly born in Britain, they feel Scottish, and have ordinary occupations.
This appears to be a traditional Labour working-class area of Glasgow where people have found it difficult to get a good education and achieve economic success.
|Economic Position||15° Right||23° Left||0°|
|National Position||52° Int||17° Int||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||8%||49%||52%|
The census asks a very detailed question (QS606) about respondents' occupation, for those people who have jobs. There are 90 separate categories for England and Wales, but only 25 categories in Scotland. The categories are defined by the Office of National Statistics (Standard Occupational Classification).
There are nine "major groups": Managers; Professionals; Associate Professionals; Administrators; Skilled Trades; Caring and Leisure; Sales and Customer Service; Process and Plant Operators; and Elementary Occupations. Our key indicator of "good job" is defined as the proportion of people in employment who are in the first four categories (Managers, Professionals, Assoc Professionals and Administrators). More details of SOC hierarchy from the ONS.
The national average is 51%, so about half the employees in the country have a job in the top four categories.
Note that some localities have few or no employed residents (such as retirement homes and student halls of residence), so they are excluded from this list and care should be taken in analysing those areas.
The locality with the highest proportion of people in good jobs is the eastern side of the Royal Crescent in the New Town of Edinburgh (example postcode EH3 6PZ). In this neighbourhood, every employed person has a good job. In fact, 77% of residents are in the top two occupation categories.
The area is SNP supporting and strongly internationalist and has a strong British identity. It voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU (95%), and has a high proportion of foreign-born residents. Health, education and other economic indicators are also very strong.
This appears to be an upper-middle class area in a desirable part of Edinburgh with a cosmopolitan and successful population.
At the other extreme is Timbrell Avenue and Smith Grove in Crewe, Cheshire (example postcode CW1 3ND). Here only 80 out of 192 working-age adults have jobs. And only 5% of these jobs are in the top four categories. Around half of the jobs are in the lowest two categories (Process Operators and Elementary Occupations).
The area is strongly Labour, mildly left-wing, mildly nationalist, and voted heavily to Leave the EU. Education and other economic indicators are also far below the national average.
This locality appears to be a disadvantaged area of a northern town where the residents do not enjoy economic success.
|Economic Position||1° Left||11° Left||0°|
|National Position||32° Int||9° Nat||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||5%||74%||52%|
Another demographic indicator is driven by the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (SEC). This is reported by the census as question QS609, and is determined by the classification of the "household reference person" for each address. There are eight analytic classes: Senior management and professionals; Middle management and professions; Intermediate occupations; Small employers/self-employed; Junior supervisors and Technical; Semi-Routine; Routine; Never Worked (long-term unemployed and students). Those not working (temporary unemployed, retired people, homemakers, sick and disabled) are categorised using their last main job. The ONS has more details of the NS-SEC Analytic classes.
The measure used is the proportion of people in the area whose household reference person has a job in the top four categories (Senior management to Small employers/self-employed). Nationwide 51% of the population falls into this category, or about one person in two.
The locality with the largest proportion of high SEC classification is an area of Larkhill near Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire (example postcode SP4 8LN).
Here every single person falls into this category, leading to a 100% rating. Larkhill is a garrison town for the British Army, with many residents having high-status jobs in the defence sector.The locality is Conservative-leaning and strongly right-wing, and it voted heavily to Remain in the EU. Residents are incredibly fit, averagely educated, and relatively young. They have good jobs and social grading.
Up in Nottingham, Teversal Avenue and Bute Avenue in the Radford area (example postcode NG7 1PY) have the lowest SEC grading. The score is actually 0% – no-one has a high-status job.
But this area has a high concentration of students, with 94% of residents being in full-time education. The census puts students into the same "never worked" category as the long-term unemployed by the census, so this does not necessarily reflect a high level of deprivation or low achievement.
The area is Labour-supporting, politically balanced, and voted strongly to Remain in the EU. People identify as British more than the average. The population is very youthful (average age 23 years), very healthy and well-educated.
This appears to be a couple of streets dominated by full-time students. Their current SEC status does not reflect their future prospects in life.
|Economic Position||13° Right||6° Right||0°|
|National Position||6° Int||10° Int||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||35%||32%||52%|
One of the simplest census questions is to ask the age of each respondent (QS103). Although the census reports the entire age distribution profile, for simplicity we use the measure of the average age of adults in years. 'Adults' are taken to be those whose age is 18 years or above.
The extremes of age are found in institutions which concentrate together either the young or the old.
The oldest locality in Britain is, not surprisingly, a retirement home. The home with the longest-surviving residents is Nightingale House on Nightingale Lane in the London borough of Wandsworth (example postcode SW12 8LZ). Residents have an average age of 85 years, with 8 centenarian residents (as at 2011).
Unsurprisingly, few residents reported "very good" health, but 83% said their health was "fair" or better, which seems pretty good going.
On other measures, residents are staunchly Conservatives, strongly right-wing and strongly internationalist. They voted clearly to Remain in the EU. Educational attainment is mildly below average (though university education was less common when the residents were young), and other measures are around the average.
Commendations to the Nightingale for being, on this measure, the best retirement home in Britain.
At the other end of the age spectrum are some university halls of residence in Ranmoor Student Village in Sheffield. The halls of Kinder and Windgather on Woodhead Way (example postcode S10 3AU) have the youngest population of any in Britain, with an average age of 21.7 years.
The students support Labour mostly, but also the Lib Dems (this is Nick Clegg's constituency) and the Greens. Nonetheless they are politically centrist, strongly internationalist and voted clearly to stay in the EU. They identify strongly as British and unsurprisingly enjoy good health and education.
Their other economic indicators are still weak because they have not yet entered employment. The social grade rating is misleading as it is based on a small number of non-students (such as resident academics) in the area.
|Economic Position||23° Right||4° Left||0°|
|National Position||35° Int||19° Int||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||27%||29%||52%|
The final key demographic indicator is called the Approximated Social Grade by the census (question QS611). It is better known to the public as the National Readership Survey social class with its six grades: A (upper middle), B (middle), C1 (lower middle), C2 (skilled working), D (working), and E (non-working). More details from the Wikipedia article NRS social grade.
We use the traditional key indicator of the percentage of the population which falls into the grades A, B and C1, which is broadly representative of the middle class. Overall, 53% of the country falls into this category.
This measure, like Occupation, is based on employment, so areas are excluded from analysis if they have only a small number of employed residents.
The most middle-class area of the country is the 44-storey Lauderdale Tower in the Barbican, City of London (example postcode EC2Y 8DP).
The tower was built in the modernist style in 1974 as part of the Barbican development. Jokingly described as "council housing for the middle classes", it lives up to its reputation with a 100% middle-class rating. Of the 90 employed residents, 79% are in the A and B social classes, and the remainder are in the C1 class. There are no residents in the working classes.
The residents are staunchly Conservative (56%) with some Lib Dems (24%). They are strongly right-wing and internationalist – they voted heavily for Remain in the EU referendum. Residents identify as British, though many are foreign-born, and have fairly good health. Their education levels are very good as are their jobs. Their age is around average.
This may not look like the poshest place in the country, but it is very solidly middle class.
The least middle-class area in the country is centred around blocks of flats on Pen-y-Llan Street in Connah's Quay in Flintshire in North Wales (example postcode CH5 4YX). Of the 85 people who were classified, only around 5% have a middle-class job. Most people were classified as D or E (working or non-working classes).
The residents are strongly Labour supporting, very left-wing, and strong supporters of leaving the EU. They tend to feel Welsh or English rather than British, and are mostly British born. Their health and education is poor, and their other economic indicators are significantly below the national average.
This appears to be a badly-off area in North Wales where human development and economic activity are not strong.
Comparison of the two localities shows that they are almost complete opposites on all of the indicators except age.
City of London
|Economic Position||22° Right||32° Left||0°|
|National Position||34° Int||2° Int||1° Int|
|EU Leave %||27%||68%||52%|
Next time, in the concluding part, we will look at the political extreme areas for economic attitudes, nationalism, EU referendum votes, and party political support.