Today is the launch of State of the Nation, a new website for understanding the state of Britain in numbers, words, maps and charts. We hope you enjoy it and become a regular visitor.
In 2013 I, alongside my late best friend Lily Jayne Summers, agreed to set up Britain Elects. Initially, we used it to cover the ever (un)important slew of council by-elections that happen up and down the UK every other Thursday. The political junkies paid it due attention, taking to our coverage of election results with the same enthusiasm a football fan has for match reports.
But from there we realised we were onto something. Here is a country – that we live in – that we actually know very little about and that people want to understand a great deal better. When friends expressed incredulity that Britain had voted to leave the EU – “How could we, I don’t know anyone who voted Leave!” – we realise not many people, truly, know the country they actually live in.
And so we introduce State of the Nation. A healthy democracy is a well-informed one. Helping people to understand why others think the way they think, and why this country is not voting the way they want, has been the focus of much of my time both as the head of Britain Elects and as a New Statesman journalist. State of the Nation only deepens this focus. It presents the state of Britain in layman’s terms through easy-to-understand visuals and pieces. It will examine questions such as: where, exactly, is unemployment highest and why? Where in the country do the Conservatives still lead and among whom? How much of a crisis is the NHS in? And, the most googled question of them all, how popular is Boris Johnson really – and why?
These are but some of the areas my work will focus on. The cost of living is often talked about, but we still struggle to grasp how big the gap between wages and prices has really become. In time, State of the Nation will tell that tale and leave you, our audience, hopefully more informed than you were before.