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Publication Detail
The Fractured Nature of British Politics
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Molinero C, Arcaute E, Smith D, Batty M
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
  • Keywords:
    physics.soc-ph, physics.soc-ph, cs.SI
  • Notes:
    13 pages, 7 figures, 1 table
The outcome of the British General Election to be held in just over one week's time is widely regarded as the most difficult in living memory to predict. Current polls suggest that the two main parties are neck and neck but that there will be a landslide to the Scottish Nationalist Party with that party taking most of the constituencies in Scotland. The Liberal Democrats are forecast to loose more than half their seats and the fringe parties of whom the UK Independence Party is the biggest are simply unknown quantities. Much of this volatility relates to long-standing and deeply rooted cultural and nationalist attitudes that relate to geographical fault lines that have been present for 500 years or more but occasionally reveal themselves, at times like this. In this paper our purpose is to raise the notion that these fault lines are critical to thinking about regionalism, nationalism and the hierarchy of cities in Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland). We use a percolation method (Arcaute et al. 2015) to reveal them that treats Britain as a giant cluster of related places each defined from the intersections of the road network at a very fine spatial scale. We break this giant cluster into a detailed hierarchy of sub-clusters by successively reducing a distance threshold which first breaks off some of the Scottish Islands and then reveals the very distinct nations and regions that make up Britain, all the way down to the definition of the largest cities that appear when the threshold reaches 300m. We use these percolation clusters to apportion the 2010 voting pattern to a new hierarchy of constituencies based on these clusters, and this gives us a picture of how Britain might vote on purely geographical lines. We then examine this voting pattern which provides us with some sense of how important the new configuration of political parties might be to the election next week.
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