UCL maps London surnames by ethnicity and popularity

James Cheshire's map reveals the pattern of London immigration over the years

James Cheshire, of UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, has followed up on mapping life expectancy on tube lines with a fun new map showing the top fifteen most common surnames in London by electoral ward.

Looking at the the most common surnames reveals the top-level trends to be roughly what you'd expect: overall, English names are the most common, with Indian and Bangladeshi names having sizeable hotspots (in northwest and northeast London for Indian names, and Tower Hamlets for Bangladeshi names). Welsh names are rather evenly spread throughout the capital, and Sikh, Jewish and Pakistani surnames each have their own focal points.

What's really fascinating is playing with the site's slider and comparing the most frequent surnames with the 10th or 11th most frequent. Some areas stay the same, but just move down the list of common surnames; so, for instance, Hounslow's most common name is Singh, and it's tenth most common name is Sidhu. Others have predictable ethnic mixes. Tower Hamlets, where the Bangladeshi surname Begum is the most common, breaks down to a mixture of Bangladeshi and Pakistani surnames when you get further down the list. And some, like Hammersmith and Fulham, reveal little pattern at all: scrolling through the list gets first English names, then Welsh, then Scottish, Pakistani, Irish and "other".

The full, scrollable, zoomable map can be found here.

The fully zoomed-out map.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Why Theresa May won't exclude students from the net migration target

The Prime Minister believes the public would view the move as "a fix". 

In a letter to David Cameron shortly after the last general election, Philip Hammond demanded that students be excluded from the net migration target. The then foreign secretary, who was backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid, wrote: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer. It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts." Universities and businesses have long argued that it is economically harmful to limit student numbers. But David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, refused to relent. 

Appearing before the Treasury select committee yesterday, Hammond reignited the issue. "As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy," he said. He added that "It's not whether politicians think one thing or another, it's what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that quesrtion." A YouGov poll published earlier this year found that 57 per cent of the public support excluding students from the "tens of thousands" target.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has also pressured May to do so. But the Prime Minister not only rejected the proposal - she demanded a stricter regime. Rudd later announced in her conference speech that there would be "tougher rules for students on lower quality courses". 

The economic case for reform is that students aid growth. The political case is that it would make the net migration target (which has been missed for six years) easier to meet (long-term immigration for study was 164,000 in the most recent period). But in May's view, excluding students from the target would be regarded by the public as a "fix" and would harm the drive to reduce numbers. If an exemption is made for one group, others will inevitably demand similar treatment. 

Universities complain that their lobbying power has been reduced by the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility from the business department to education. Bill Rammell, the former higher education minister and the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire, said in July: “We shouldn’t assume that Theresa May as prime minister will have the same restrictive view on overseas students that Theresa May the home secretary had”. Some Tory MPs hoped that the net migration target would be abolished altogether in a "Nixon goes to China" moment.

But rather than retreating, May has doubled-down. The Prime Minister regards permanently reduced migration as essential to her vision of a more ordered society. She believes the economic benefits of high immigration are both too negligible and too narrow. 

Her ambition is a forbidding one. Net migration has not been in the "tens of thousands" since 1997: when the EU had just 15 member states and the term "BRICS" had not even been coined. But as prime minister, May is determined to achieve what she could not as home secretary. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.