This week’s Polls, Politics and Policy section covers the new book by Roger Borrows and TCC partner Richard Webber, The Predictive Postcode. The book explores the geodemographics changes afoot in the UK, and we look, in particular, at the Liberal Metropolitan Elite and whether they vote ‘against their interests’. (There’s a discount code included, for anyone looking to buy the book!)
Meanwhile, sticking with the cosmopolitan vibe, our Values Lab explores the values of Londoners. And our Engagement Hub looks at the so-called ‘toddler brain’ and how it applies to contemporary populism. And Charlie’s Attic is here as usual – this week including a recently washed-up message in a bottle from back in 1886.
Later this month, SAGE Publishing will release The Predictive Postcode, the new and acclaimed book by TCC partner Richard Webber, of Webber-Phillips, and Roger Burrows. The book uses years of Acorn and Mosaic postcode data to paint a geodemographic picture of the UK, based on postcode research. The result promises to be a fascinating read, regardless of whether you’ve deployed geodemographic tools before. The authors use ultra-granular data to help address many of the big questions about social and political change in the UK.
At TCC we’re lucky enough to have glimpsed some of the chapters already. In particular, we were interested by Chapter 6, ‘Citizens of nowhere?’ which looks at the ‘Liberal Metropolitan Elite’ (LME) through a geodemographic lens. The findings are interesting, not just through their ability to pinpoint the sub-segments into which the LME might fit, but via their capacity to match LME groups with areas most likely to vote ‘against’ their economic interests (the below map shows, alongside the front page of the book, a diagram of the Mosaic segments among whom Labour and the Tories ‘overperform’). Richard and Roger chart the earliest instance of this as Labour’s victory in Hampstead in 1966, but suggest the phenomena has now gone mainstream. This chimes with recent work on ‘open’ and ‘closed’ voting, which finds that voters have never been more willing to cross party lines.
The book is out on March 23rd and is well worth a read for anyone interested in society, politics and geography. It is available at 20% off with discount code UKGEOG20 on sagepub.co.uk. Valid until 30 April 2018.
An interesting psychology article this month draws parallels between marriage counselling and the standard of the present political discourse. It finds that a number of ‘toddler brain’ characteristics are shared by both. ‘Toddler brain’ behaviours – that is, traits which come from following your primitive instincts in moments of intimacy and stress – are the opposite of more sophisticated ‘adult brain’ regulations that we learn over time. Traits apparently common to messy breakups and political anger include: all-or-nothing thinking, inability to account for other perspectives, intolerance of differences, denial of responsibility and avoidance of the real issues. The result is apparently that, rather than just disagreeing over issues, political opponents – like rowing couples – increasingly tend to view each other as the problem.
This raises questions about engagement, and the role it has to play in mediating and diffusing tensions – both politically and in the local community. Listening and responding is clearly vital, and engagement professionals know that methods which myth-bust with ‘the fasts’ do worse than those that respond to how people feel. But there’s also a fine line between approaches that meet people where they are and those that have the effect of indulging gut instincts.
In writing about LME groups, The Predictive Postcode includes the following passage:
Such is the growth in size and influence of [LME] group that it has arguably come to dominate not just the higher echelons of the Labour Party, but the media, entertainment, education and caring professions. Its prevailing ethos is that one should not be seen to be advancing one’s own class interests, should be observing due process rather than gut instinct and guard against mistreatment of groups disadvantaged by imbalances in power. These orientations apply to members of the LME in both their professional and private lives. What was once marginal has now mainstreamed.
We found the interaction between this and values interesting. The group described above sound very much like Pioneers. On that note we thought we’d put the residents of London – the home of Britain’s LME elite – in the Values Modes Petri dish.
The results, shown above, are interesting. The Weekly has looked at Values Modes in the North East and Scotland in recent weeks, and values in London are markedly less Settler-leaning than in the former, and more Prospector-driven than the latter. The purple patch in which London over-indexes seems to be socially liberal Prospectors and more individualistic Pioneers, perhaps indicating the blend of economic liberalism and social liberalism which makes the capital such fertile territory for LME values.
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, TCC’s once-a-week reversion to ‘Toddler Brain’: