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.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.