May 11 2015

Everyone is awesome, no one is to blame

The Liberal Democrats have members from all walks of life. I, for example, am a scientist and sometime software developer. To be honest I’m more of a manager than a developer. There are many tools for software management, one of them is the Agile framework. This is a relatively new innovation and the details are unimportant here but I think there are a couple of things we can learn from Agile. The first is the title of this blog post:

Everyone is awesome, no one is to blame

This mantra is something we bear in mind when we look back over a period or a particular event. The benefit of this approach is most apparent when you are faced with a situation where the mantra is left behind: “You messed up, you are to blame”. Under these circumstances the protagonists in the retrospective become entrenched in their positions and unwilling to open up as to why something happened. It becomes more important to defend your side and make sure someone else is to blame. This approach is unhelpful, and ultimately you have to go forward and continue working with those found to be to blame in a poisoned atmosphere.

We as Liberal Democrats face this risk. I’ve been a member of the party since 1988, it was only after the 2010 general election that I realised that the Liberal Democrats had factions! In a former life I worked with a student from Yugoslavia, she had fled the country with her family at the time of the war. We talked about Yugoslavia and I asked her once whether she knew in her class at school who was a Serb and who a Croat. She said: “Of course not, we were all the same”. In Yugoslavia demagogues dredged up division where none previously existed.

I joined the Liberal Democrats because I wanted to be with people like me, not with some people like me and that other bunch who I couldn’t abide. Schism is for socialists ;-) We mustn’t let any dissection of what is coming to be known as “Cockroach Thursday” become an excuse for factionalism and finger pointing, other parties have tried that approach and it doesn’t work.

The second tool for analysis you might enjoy is “5 whys”. Parents of toddlers will know be somewhat familiar with this technique, used for establishing root causes. It’s very easy to jump to a cause for an event in one bound but it isn’t necessarily right. The “5 whys” method invites you to question the first cause you come up with repeatedly with further “whys”.

  1. Why did we lose? We broke our promise on tuition fees
  2. Why did we make our promise on tuition fees? Because the NUS presented us with a pledge to sign
  3. Why did we sign the pledge on tuition fees? We wanted the votes of students
  4. Why did we want the votes of students? Because we wanted to win parliamentary seats
  5. Why did we want to win parliamentary seats? So we could implement our policies which we feel are best for Britain.

The important point here is not my particular responses to the questions rather that I haven’t stopped at the first one, and each answer leads to further questions which we may return to later.

For my next post I will highlight the use of the Gedankenexperiment in the analysis of political problems.

May 08 2015

A cockroach emerges…

I’m a Liberal Democrat. Our party president, Tim Farron, once described us being like cockroaches in our indestructability.

Today the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party has dropped from 57 parliamentary seats to 8, slightly lower than was achieved by the Liberal Party in 1979. Since 2010 Liberal Democrat local councillors have experienced this level of defeat, as have the party’s Members in the European Parliament. It looked like things might be different for the parliamentary party, but they weren’t.

The writing was on the wall from the moment Nick Clegg and David Cameron stepped into the Downing Street rose garden in May 2010. Our opinion poll ratings plummeted from that moment, before we’d done anything else but form the Coalition.

Today, in May 2015 we lost seats to Labour because of the “Great Betrayal”, we lost seats to the Tories because people thought of the Coalition “I actually quite like this government” and then backed the lead partner, we lost votes to UKIP and the Greens because they are the new repository of the protest vote, we lost seats to the SNP because nationalism trumps all.

The night had virtually no redeeming features. I particularly feel the loss of MPs like Lynne Featherstone, Jo Swinson and Julian Huppert all of whom made significant contributions in parliament on equality, science and anti-authoritarianism. All of whom appeared to be popular local MPs, all of whom were swept aside by the national tide.

Nick Clegg retained his seat, for which I’m rather pleased. Outsiders don’t realise quite how dependent a Lib Dem leader is on their party. The things Nick Clegg took the blame for were the things we as Liberal Democrats had collectively decided. He has been the one that has born the brunt of outrage against the Liberal Democrats with good grace. He is the one, more than any of the three main party leaders, who has talked with the public.

The political landscape won’t remould itself, it won’t be remoulded by online petitions. It won’t be remoulded by the “progressive alliance” engaging in rounds of recrimination. It won’t be remoulded by endless venting on twitter, or invoking the apocalypse. It won’t be remoulded by the lion’s roar, or an idiot with a pair of trews.

It will be remoulded by people like me who spend their spare time doing local politics: sitting in interminable meetings in their evenings, posting leaflets through doors, standing for local elections, helping local people and breaking out once every 5 years or so to fight a General Election.

I’m still a Liberal Democrat. I’m proud of what we achieved in coalition in the last 5 years, it’s been the best time to be a Liberal Democrat since I joined the party in 1988.

I’m going to go back to trying to win seats at elections and making sure the liberal voice is heard.

May 07 2015

General Election 2015–expected declaration times

There is a General Election being held in the UK today, along with local council elections in some parts of the country. The count will take place commencing at 10pm this evening, and the count will likely finish sometime around noon tomorrow.

Should you stay up awaiting all the results?

My advice is “no” but that’s because I’m getting old and like my sleep! My plan is to stay up for the BBC exit poll at 10:15pm and then go to bed, probably to awake with the dawn chorus at 4am.

If you do stay up then what can you expect? The Press Association list of estimated declaration times from here, they’re based on council estimates and previous declarations where the council provides no estimates. My experience is that the more interesting results are delayed beyond their estimated time.

As you can see from the chart below, aside from a scattering of seats, things start to pick up around 2am. Results start to pour in around 3am and by 7am it is all over bar a few stragglers.

If you want a more narrative description of what will happen and some anticipated milestones then The Guardian has a report (here).

times

For the record, and for readability here is the complete list:

320 Houghton & Sunderland South 23:00
603 Washington & Sunderland West 23:30
551 Sunderland Central 00:01
216 Durham North West 00:30
14 Antrim North 01:00
175 Dagenham & Rainham 01:00
215 Durham North 01:00
255 Foyle 01:00
435 Nuneaton 01:00
176 Darlington 01:30
214 Durham, City of 01:30
221 Easington 01:30
347 Lagan Valley 01:30
407 Na h-Eileanan an Iar 01:30
584 Tyrone West 01:30
586 Upper Bann 01:30
588 Vale of Clwyd 01:30
12 Angus 02:00
13 Antrim East 02:00
28 Barking 02:00
38 Battersea 02:00
45 Belfast East 02:00
46 Belfast North 02:00
47 Belfast South 02:00
48 Belfast West 02:00
66 Bishop Auckland 02:00
71 Blaenau Gwent 02:00
106 Broxbourne 02:00
125 Canterbury 02:00
131 Carmarthen East & Dinefwr 02:00
132 Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South 02:00
134 Castle Point 02:00
139 Chelmsford 02:00
142 Chesham & Amersham 02:00
150 Christchurch 02:00
202 Down North 02:00
217 Dwyfor Meirionnydd 02:00
223 East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow 02:00
226 Eastleigh 02:00
239 Epping Forest 02:00
250 Fife North East 02:00
269 Glenrothes 02:00
285 Halton 02:00
345 Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath 02:00
348 Lanark & Hamilton East 02:00
375 Llanelli 02:00
427 Northampton North 02:00
428 Northampton South 02:00
443 Oxford East 02:00
462 Putney 02:00
487 Rutherglen & Hamilton West 02:00
530 Staffordshire South 02:00
542 Strangford 02:00
552 Surrey East 02:00
562 Tamworth 02:00
574 Tooting 02:00
647 Ynys Mon 02:00
570 Thornbury & Yate 02:15
15 Antrim South 02:30
143 Chester, City of 02:30
151 Cities of London & Westminster 02:30
153 Cleethorpes 02:30
189 Devon East 02:30
211 Dundee East 02:30
212 Dundee West 02:30
227 Eddisbury 02:30
234 Ellesmere Port & Neston 02:30
251 Filton & Bradley Stoke 02:30
287 Hampshire East 02:30
296 Hartlepool 02:30
302 Hemel Hempstead 02:30
308 Hertford & Stortford 02:30
330 Inverclyde 02:30
334 Islington North 02:30
335 Islington South & Finsbury 02:30
342 Kilmarnock & Loudoun 02:30
344 Kingswood 02:30
359 Leicestershire North West 02:30
367 Lichfield 02:30
379 Ludlow 02:30
385 Makerfield 02:30
399 Mitcham & Morden 02:30
402 Montgomeryshire 02:30
412 Newbury 02:30
474 Rochdale 02:30
533 Stirling 02:30
615 Westminster North 02:30
621 Wimbledon 02:30
636 Workington 02:30
646 Yeovil 02:30
1 Aberavon 03:00
2 Aberconwy 03:00
6 Airdrie & Shotts 03:00
10 Alyn & Deeside 03:00
11 Amber Valley 03:00
16 Arfon 03:00
17 Argyll & Bute 03:00
29 Barnsley Central 03:00
30 Barnsley East 03:00
33 Basildon South & Thurrock East 03:00
41 Bedford 03:00
49 Bermondsey & Old Southwark 03:00
75 Bolsover 03:00
76 Bolton North East 03:00
77 Bolton South East 03:00
78 Bolton West 03:00
81 Bosworth 03:00
84 Bracknell 03:00
89 Brecon & Radnorshire 03:00
90 Brent Central 03:00
91 Brent North 03:00
100 Bristol North West 03:00
102 Bristol West 03:00
111 Bury North 03:00
112 Bury South 03:00
113 Bury St Edmunds 03:00
117 Camberwell & Peckham 03:00
130 Carlisle 03:00
154 Clwyd South 03:00
155 Clwyd West 03:00
156 Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill 03:00
160 Copeland 03:00
170 Croydon Central 03:00
171 Croydon North 03:00
172 Croydon South 03:00
179 Delyn 03:00
181 Derby North 03:00
182 Derby South 03:00
184 Derbyshire Mid 03:00
185 Derbyshire North East 03:00
186 Derbyshire South 03:00
209 Dunbartonshire East 03:00
213 Dunfermline & Fife West 03:00
224 East Lothian 03:00
241 Erewash 03:00
244 Exeter 03:00
245 Falkirk 03:00
256 Fylde 03:00
260 Gedling 03:00
262 Glasgow Central 03:00
263 Glasgow East 03:00
264 Glasgow North 03:00
265 Glasgow North East 03:00
266 Glasgow North West 03:00
267 Glasgow South 03:00
268 Glasgow South West 03:00
273 Gower 03:00
290 Hampstead & Kilburn 03:00
293 Harrogate & Knaresborough 03:00
298 Hastings & Rye 03:00
299 Havant 03:00
310 Hertfordshire South West 03:00
314 High Peak 03:00
316 Holborn & St Pancras 03:00
318 Hornsey & Wood Green 03:00
323 Hull East 03:00
324 Hull North 03:00
325 Hull West & Hessle 03:00
326 Huntingdon 03:00
333 Isle of Wight 03:00
337 Jarrow 03:00
343 Kingston & Surbiton 03:00
346 Knowsley 03:00
376 Londonderry East 03:00
386 Maldon 03:00
393 Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney 03:00
395 Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East 03:00
403 Moray 03:00
406 Motherwell & Wishaw 03:00
408 Neath 03:00
417 Newport East 03:00
418 Newport West 03:00
421 Norfolk Mid 03:00
436 Ochil & Perthshire South 03:00
445 Paisley & Renfrewshire North 03:00
446 Paisley & Renfrewshire South 03:00
450 Perth & Perthshire North 03:00
451 Peterborough 03:00
460 Preston 03:00
469 Renfrewshire East 03:00
471 Ribble Valley 03:00
481 Rother Valley 03:00
482 Rotherham 03:00
486 Rushcliffe 03:00
513 Skipton & Ripon 03:00
514 Sleaford & North Hykeham 03:00
515 Slough 03:00
516 Solihull 03:00
517 Somerset North 03:00
522 South Shields 03:00
528 Stafford 03:00
535 Stockton North 03:00
536 Stockton South 03:00
540 Stone 03:00
550 Suffolk West 03:00
558 Swansea East 03:00
559 Swansea West 03:00
560 Swindon North 03:00
561 Swindon South 03:00
565 Telford 03:00
571 Thurrock 03:00
589 Vale of Glamorgan 03:00
608 Wellingborough 03:00
610 Welwyn Hatfield 03:00
611 Wentworth & Dearne 03:00
623 Windsor 03:00
641 Wrexham 03:00
642 Wycombe 03:00
643 Wyre & Preston North 03:00
8 Aldridge-Brownhills 03:30
35 Bassetlaw 03:30
40 Beckenham 03:30
42 Bedfordshire Mid 03:30
44 Bedfordshire South West 03:30
69 Blackpool North & Cleveleys 03:30
70 Blackpool South 03:30
72 Blaydon 03:30
82 Bournemouth East 03:30
83 Bournemouth West 03:30
104 Bromley & Chislehurst 03:30
109 Burnley 03:30
121 Cambridgeshire North West 03:30
122 Cambridgeshire South 03:30
136 Charnwood 03:30
141 Cheltenham 03:30
164 Cotswolds, The 03:30
201 Dover 03:30
203 Down South 03:30
206 Dulwich & West Norwood 03:30
210 Dunbartonshire West 03:30
222 East Ham 03:30
233 Edmonton 03:30
237 Enfield North 03:30
238 Enfield Southgate 03:30
272 Gosport 03:30
276 Great Grimsby 03:30
292 Harlow 03:30
368 Lincoln 03:30
369 Linlithgow & Falkirk East 03:30
374 Livingston 03:30
377 Loughborough 03:30
396 Midlothian 03:30
419 Newry & Armagh 03:30
442 Orpington 03:30
463 Rayleigh & Wickford 03:30
468 Reigate 03:30
521 South Ribble 03:30
544 Streatham 03:30
548 Suffolk Coastal 03:30
553 Surrey Heath 03:30
569 Thirsk & Malton 03:30
576 Torfaen 03:30
585 Ulster Mid 03:30
590 Vauxhall 03:30
593 Walsall North 03:30
594 Walsall South 03:30
598 Warley 03:30
607 Weaver Vale 03:30
612 West Bromwich East 03:30
613 West Bromwich West 03:30
614 West Ham 03:30
634 Worcestershire Mid 03:30
640 Wrekin, The 03:30
5 Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine 04:00
7 Aldershot 04:00
19 Ashfield 04:00
23 Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock 04:00
24 Ayrshire Central 04:00
25 Ayrshire North & Arran 04:00
27 Banff & Buchan 04:00
31 Barrow & Furness 04:00
32 Basildon & Billericay 04:00
43 Bedfordshire North East 04:00
55 Bexleyheath & Crayford 04:00
61 Birmingham Ladywood 04:00
67 Blackburn 04:00
88 Braintree 04:00
93 Brentwood & Ongar 04:00
94 Bridgend 04:00
95 Bridgwater & Somerset West 04:00
99 Bristol East 04:00
101 Bristol South 04:00
105 Bromsgrove 04:00
107 Broxtowe 04:00
114 Caerphilly 04:00
120 Cambridgeshire North East 04:00
124 Cannock Chase 04:00
133 Carshalton & Wallington 04:00
135 Ceredigion 04:00
140 Chelsea & Fulham 04:00
144 Chesterfield 04:00
145 Chichester 04:00
168 Crawley 04:00
173 Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East 04:00
177 Dartford 04:00
183 Derbyshire Dales 04:00
190 Devon North 04:00
191 Devon South West 04:00
192 Devon West & Torridge 04:00
194 Don Valley 04:00
195 Doncaster Central 04:00
196 Doncaster North 04:00
200 Dorset West 04:00
204 Dudley North 04:00
205 Dudley South 04:00
207 Dumfries & Galloway 04:00
208 Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale 04:00
225 Eastbourne 04:00
228 Edinburgh East 04:00
229 Edinburgh North & Leith 04:00
230 Edinburgh South 04:00
231 Edinburgh South West 04:00
232 Edinburgh West 04:00
236 Eltham 04:00
240 Epsom & Ewell 04:00
242 Erith & Thamesmead 04:00
243 Esher & Walton 04:00
246 Fareham 04:00
253 Folkestone & Hythe 04:00
258 Garston & Halewood 04:00
259 Gateshead 04:00
270 Gloucester 04:00
278 Greenwich & Woolwich 04:00
279 Guildford 04:00
280 Hackney North & Stoke Newington 04:00
281 Hackney South & Shoreditch 04:00
286 Hammersmith 04:00
289 Hampshire North West 04:00
291 Harborough 04:00
294 Harrow East 04:00
295 Harrow West 04:00
306 Hereford & Herefordshire South 04:00
311 Hertsmere 04:00
313 Heywood & Middleton 04:00
332 Ipswich 04:00
336 Islwyn 04:00
341 Kettering 04:00
361 Leigh 04:00
362 Lewes 04:00
363 Lewisham Deptford 04:00
364 Lewisham East 04:00
365 Lewisham West & Penge 04:00
380 Luton North 04:00
381 Luton South 04:00
383 Maidenhead 04:00
390 Mansfield 04:00
392 Meriden 04:00
401 Monmouth 04:00
409 New Forest East 04:00
411 Newark 04:00
413 Newcastle-under-Lyme 04:00
414 Newcastle upon Tyne Central 04:00
415 Newcastle upon Tyne East 04:00
416 Newcastle upon Tyne North 04:00
422 Norfolk North 04:00
429 Northamptonshire South 04:00
432 Nottingham East 04:00
433 Nottingham North 04:00
434 Nottingham South 04:00
437 Ogmore 04:00
438 Old Bexley & Sidcup 04:00
441 Orkney & Shetland 04:00
447 Pendle 04:00
448 Penistone & Stocksbridge 04:00
449 Penrith & The Border 04:00
452 Plymouth Moor View 04:00
453 Plymouth Sutton & Devonport 04:00
459 Preseli Pembrokeshire 04:00
467 Redditch 04:00
473 Richmond Park 04:00
476 Rochford & Southend East 04:00
478 Romsey & Southampton North 04:00
485 Runnymede & Weybridge 04:00
489 Saffron Walden 04:00
497 Scarborough & Whitby 04:00
501 Selby & Ainsty 04:00
502 Sevenoaks 04:00
523 Southampton Itchen 04:00
524 Southampton Test 04:00
525 Southend West 04:00
527 Spelthorne 04:00
529 Staffordshire Moorlands 04:00
546 Stroud 04:00
547 Suffolk Central & Ipswich North 04:00
549 Suffolk South 04:00
554 Surrey South West 04:00
555 Sussex Mid 04:00
556 Sutton & Cheam 04:00
557 Sutton Coldfield 04:00
578 Tottenham 04:00
580 Tunbridge Wells 04:00
581 Twickenham 04:00
602 Warwickshire North 04:00
606 Wealden 04:00
616 Westmorland & Lonsdale 04:00
617 Weston-Super-Mare 04:00
618 Wigan 04:00
620 Wiltshire South West 04:00
626 Witham 04:00
628 Woking 04:00
635 Worcestershire West 04:00
644 Wyre Forest 04:00
18 Arundel & South Downs 04:30
26 Banbury 04:30
37 Batley & Spen 04:30
51 Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk 04:30
54 Bexhill & Battle 04:30
58 Birmingham Erdington 04:30
96 Brigg & Goole 04:30
138 Cheadle 04:30
147 Chippenham 04:30
148 Chipping Barnet 04:30
152 Clacton 04:30
157 Colchester 04:30
158 Colne Valley 04:30
159 Congleton 04:30
161 Corby 04:30
169 Crewe & Nantwich 04:30
178 Daventry 04:30
187 Devizes 04:30
193 Dewsbury 04:30
235 Elmet & Rothwell 04:30
271 Gordon 04:30
275 Gravesham 04:30
297 Harwich & Essex North 04:30
301 Hazel Grove 04:30
309 Hertfordshire North East 04:30
319 Horsham 04:30
322 Huddersfield 04:30
328 Ilford North 04:30
329 Ilford South 04:30
340 Kensington 04:30
349 Lancashire West 04:30
351 Leeds Central 04:30
352 Leeds East 04:30
353 Leeds North East 04:30
354 Leeds North West 04:30
355 Leeds West 04:30
360 Leicestershire South 04:30
394 Middlesbrough 04:30
400 Mole Valley 04:30
405 Morley & Outwood 04:30
420 Newton Abbot 04:30
424 Norfolk South 04:30
430 Norwich North 04:30
431 Norwich South 04:30
461 Pudsey 04:30
466 Redcar 04:30
496 Salisbury 04:30
498 Scunthorpe 04:30
503 Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough 04:30
504 Sheffield Central 04:30
505 Sheffield Hallam 04:30
506 Sheffield Heeley 04:30
507 Sheffield South East 04:30
510 Shrewsbury & Atcham 04:30
519 Somerton & Frome 04:30
532 Stevenage 04:30
534 Stockport 04:30
577 Totnes 04:30
582 Tynemouth 04:30
583 Tyneside North 04:30
619 Wiltshire North 04:30
627 Witney 04:30
630 Wolverhampton North East 04:30
631 Wolverhampton South East 04:30
632 Wolverhampton South West 04:30
9 Altrincham & Sale West 05:00
20 Ashford 05:00
36 Bath 05:00
39 Beaconsfield 05:00
52 Bethnal Green & Bow 05:00
53 Beverley & Holderness 05:00
56 Birkenhead 05:00
62 Birmingham Northfield 05:00
65 Birmingham Yardley 05:00
79 Bootle 05:00
80 Boston & Skegness 05:00
85 Bradford East 05:00
86 Bradford South 05:00
87 Bradford West 05:00
92 Brentford & Isleworth 05:00
97 Brighton Kemptown 05:00
98 Brighton Pavilion 05:00
110 Burton 05:00
115 Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross 05:00
116 Calder Valley 05:00
119 Cambridge 05:00
137 Chatham & Aylesford 05:00
146 Chingford & Woodford Green 05:00
149 Chorley 05:00
165 Coventry North East 05:00
166 Coventry North West 05:00
167 Coventry South 05:00
174 Cynon Valley 05:00
197 Dorset Mid & Poole North 05:00
198 Dorset North 05:00
199 Dorset South 05:00
218 Ealing Central & Acton 05:00
219 Ealing North 05:00
247 Faversham & Kent Mid 05:00
248 Feltham & Heston 05:00
249 Fermanagh & South Tyrone 05:00
252 Finchley & Golders Green 05:00
257 Gainsborough 05:00
274 Grantham & Stamford 05:00
282 Halesowen & Rowley Regis 05:00
284 Haltemprice & Howden 05:00
303 Hemsworth 05:00
304 Hendon 05:00
307 Herefordshire North 05:00
315 Hitchin & Harpenden 05:00
321 Hove 05:00
327 Hyndburn 05:00
331 Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey 05:00
338 Keighley 05:00
366 Leyton & Wanstead 05:00
370 Liverpool Riverside 05:00
371 Liverpool Walton 05:00
372 Liverpool Wavertree 05:00
373 Liverpool West Derby 05:00
378 Louth & Horncastle 05:00
384 Maidstone & The Weald 05:00
391 Meon Valley 05:00
410 New Forest West 05:00
426 Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford 05:00
454 Pontypridd 05:00
455 Poole 05:00
456 Poplar & Limehouse 05:00
470 Rhondda 05:00
472 Richmond (Yorks) 05:00
475 Rochester & Strood 05:00
480 Rossendale & Darwen 05:00
483 Rugby 05:00
488 Rutland & Melton 05:00
490 St Albans 05:00
495 Salford & Eccles 05:00
499 Sedgefield 05:00
500 Sefton Central 05:00
508 Sherwood 05:00
509 Shipley 05:00
512 Sittingbourne & Sheppey 05:00
518 Somerset North East 05:00
526 Southport 05:00
541 Stourbridge 05:00
543 Stratford-on-Avon 05:00
545 Stretford & Urmston 05:00
564 Taunton Deane 05:00
572 Tiverton & Honiton 05:00
575 Torbay 05:00
591 Wakefield 05:00
592 Wallasey 05:00
595 Walthamstow 05:00
599 Warrington North 05:00
600 Warrington South 05:00
622 Winchester 05:00
624 Wirral South 05:00
625 Wirral West 05:00
633 Worcester 05:00
637 Worsley & Eccles South 05:00
648 York Central 05:00
649 York Outer 05:00
650 Yorkshire East 05:00
22 Aylesbury 05:30
34 Basingstoke 05:30
57 Birmingham Edgbaston 05:30
60 Birmingham Hodge Hill 05:30
103 Broadland 05:30
108 Buckingham 05:30
123 Cambridgeshire South East 05:30
188 Devon Central 05:30
277 Great Yarmouth 05:30
283 Halifax 05:30
520 South Holland & The Deepings 05:30
605 Waveney 05:30
3 Aberdeen North 06:00
4 Aberdeen South 06:00
63 Birmingham Perry Barr 06:00
64 Birmingham Selly Oak 06:00
74 Bognor Regis & Littlehampton 06:00
126 Cardiff Central 06:00
127 Cardiff North 06:00
128 Cardiff South & Penarth 06:00
129 Cardiff West 06:00
220 Ealing Southall 06:00
254 Forest of Dean 06:00
261 Gillingham & Rainham 06:00
288 Hampshire North East 06:00
300 Hayes & Harlington 06:00
305 Henley 06:00
350 Lancaster & Fleetwood 06:00
404 Morecambe & Lunesdale 06:00
423 Norfolk North West 06:00
425 Norfolk South West 06:00
444 Oxford West & Abingdon 06:00
464 Reading East 06:00
465 Reading West 06:00
477 Romford 06:00
484 Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner 06:00
492 St Helens North 06:00
493 St Helens South & Whiston 06:00
511 Shropshire North 06:00
537 Stoke-on-Trent Central 06:00
538 Stoke-on-Trent North 06:00
539 Stoke-on-Trent South 06:00
563 Tatton 06:00
566 Tewkesbury 06:00
567 Thanet North 06:00
568 Thanet South 06:00
573 Tonbridge & Malling 06:00
587 Uxbridge & Ruislip South 06:00
597 Wantage 06:00
604 Watford 06:00
629 Wokingham 06:00
638 Worthing East & Shoreham 06:00
639 Worthing West 06:00
21 Ashton Under Lyne 06:30
59 Birmingham Hall Green 06:30
118 Camborne & Redruth 06:30
162 Cornwall North 06:30
163 Cornwall South East 06:30
180 Denton & Reddish 06:30
457 Portsmouth North 06:30
458 Portsmouth South 06:30
491 St Austell & Newquay 06:30
531 Stalybridge & Hyde 06:30
579 Truro & Falmouth 06:30
68 Blackley & Broughton 07:00
317 Hornchurch & Upminster 07:00
356 Leicester East 07:00
357 Leicester South 07:00
358 Leicester West 07:00
382 Macclesfield 07:00
387 Manchester Central 07:00
388 Manchester Gorton 07:00
389 Manchester Withington 07:00
397 Milton Keynes North 07:00
398 Milton Keynes South 07:00
439 Oldham East & Saddleworth 07:00
440 Oldham West & Royton 07:00
479 Ross, Skye & Lochaber 07:00
609 Wells 07:00
645 Wythenshawe & Sale East 07:00
50 Berwick-upon-Tweed 12:00
73 Blyth Valley 12:00
312 Hexham 12:00
339 Kenilworth & Southam 12:00
596 Wansbeck 12:00
601 Warwick & Leamington 12:00
494 St Ives 13:00

May 03 2015

Clown-car democracy

As the general election approaches we are being urged to vote, often with the pious imprecation that it doesn’t matter who we vote for just so long as we vote, because voting is important. After the election we will be told that we have spoken, meaning will be drawn from the deconstructed lemon cheesecake of the results.

But it’s all a bit of a lie: we live in a clown-car democracy.

Come May the 7th we’ll all leap into the clown-car and try to make it bend to our wishes. Some will try to honk the horn and get water squirted in the face for our troubles, others will wrench the steering wheel to the left or right and discover themselves heading in completely different directions. A bouquet of flowers will spring from the exhaust when someone puts an indicator on. The ringmaster will look cheery throughout.

We’ve all been trained to think that it’s entirely reasonable that a party might get 10% of the votes in the country but only one MP out of 650; that a party with a little over a third of the vote should have absolute power; that our political opponents can be described as “scum”. We’ve all been trained to accept sordid sexual metaphors when grown ups work together despite differences.

May 02 2015

Book review: The Information Capital by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti

Today I review TheInformationCapitalThe Information Capital by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti – a birthday present. This is something of a coffee table book containing a range of visualisations pertaining to data about London. The book has a website where you can see what I’m talking about (here) and many of the visualisations can be found on James Cheshire’s mappinglondon.co.uk website.

This type of book is very much after my own heart, see for example my visualisation of the London Underground. The Information Capital isn’t just pretty, the text is sufficient to tell you what’s going on and find out more.

The book is divided into five broad themes “Where We Are”, “Who We Are”, “Where We Go”, “How We’re Doing” and “What We Like”. Inevitably the majority of the visualisations are variants on a coloured map but that’s no issue to my mind (I like maps!).

Aesthetically I liked the pointillist plots of the trees in Southwark, each tree gets a dot, coloured by species and the collection of points marks out the roads and green spaces of the borough. The twitter map of the city with the dots coloured by the country of origin of the tweeter is in similar style with a great horde evident around the heart of London in Soho.

The visualisations of commuting look like thistledown, white on a dark blue background, and as a bonus you can see all of southern England, not just London. You can see it on the website (here). A Voroni tessellation showing the capital divided up by the area of influence (or at least the distance to) different brands of supermarket is very striking. To the non-scientist this visualisation probably has a Cubist feel to it.

Some of the charts are a bit bewildering, for instance a tree diagram linking wards by the prevalent profession is confusing and the colouring doesn’t help. The mood of Londoners is shown using Chernoff faces, this is based on data from the ONS who have been asking questions on life satisfaction, purpose, happiness and anxiety since 2011. On first glance this chart is difficult to read but the legend clarifies for us to discover that people are stressed, anxious and unhappy in Islington but perky in Bromley. You can see this visualisation on the web site of the book (here).

The London Guilds as app icons is rather nice, there’s not a huge amount of data in the chart but I was intrigued to learn that guilds are still being created, the most recent being the Art Scholars created in February 2014. Similarly the protected views of London chart is simply a collection of water-colour vistas.

I have mixed feelings about London, it is packed with interesting things and has a long and rich history. There are even islands of tranquillity, I enjoyed glorious breakfasts on the terrace of Somerset House last summer and lunches in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.  But I’ve no desire to live there. London sucks everything in from the rest of the country, government sits there and siting civic projects outside London seems a great and special effort for them. There is an assumption that you will come to London to serve. The inhabitants seem to live miserable lives with overpriced property and hideous commutes, these things are reflected in some of the visualisations in this book. My second London Underground visualisation measured the walking time between Tube station stops, mainly to help me avoid that hellish place at rush hour. There is a version of such a map in The Information Capital.

For those living outside London, The Information Capital is something we can think about implementing in our own area. For some charts this is quite feasible based, as they are, on government data which covers the nation such as the census or GP prescribing data. Visualisations based on social media are likely also doable although will lack weight of numbers. The visualisations harking back to classics such as John Snow’s cholera map or Charles Booth’s poverty maps of are more difficult since there is no comparison to be made in other parts of the country. And other regions of the UK don’t have Boris Bikes (or Boris, for that matter) or the Millennium Wheel.

It’s completely unsurprising to see Tufte credited in the end papers of The Information Capital. There are also some good references there for the history of London, places to get data and data visualisation.

I loved this book, its full of interesting and creative visualisations, an inspiration!

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