FEAR AND HOPE BY REGION
Figure 81 shows how many clusters the average town in each region falls into. The West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber fall into the highest number of clusters – well over four clusters in the case of each, compared to a towns average of 3.17. The average town in the south east, meanwhile, falls into just 1.96 clusters.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: Many medium-sized towns in the West Midlands have struggled to adapt to change – with higher proportions of residents in the active enmity and latent hostile groups. These Black Country towns have experienced extreme deindustrialisation, and have ageing populations. The proximity of Birmingham means that they have seen significant changes at the local level. Commuter towns in these areas are more likely to lean towards the liberal tribes – tending to have younger populations looking for affordable housing.
What the clusters tell us: Towns in the West Midlands are much more likely to fall into the clusters than the average town. However, the clusters they fit into reflect a similar distribution to towns across the UK (with the exception that, for obvious geographical reasons, there are no towns with coastal challenges). This reflects the diversity of West Midlands towns, but also the multifaceted challenges the region faces.
YORKSHIRE AND HUMBERSIDE
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: As with the other regions of England and Wales, towns with the greatest share of hostile attitudes in Yorkshire and Humberside tend to be in coastal and post-industrial areas. There is a story of decline both in small former mill towns such as Mexborough and in larger ones like Castleford. These narratives of loss often relate not just to industry, but to the departure of the traditional way of life that accompanied this work.
What the clusters tell us: Towns in Yorkshire and Humberside are again much more likely to fit into clusters than the average town. And the spread is again fairly even. But towns in this part of the world are particularly likely to have ‘visible decline’ and ‘shrinking and ageing’ populations.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: Nottingham hosts the East Midlands’ greatest proportion of confident multiculturals. The East Midlands generally leans towards the more hostile tribes overall, with the greatest affiliation to the Latent Hostile and Active Enmity groupings found in New Towns like Corby and in ex-industrial places like Ollerton. Regional inequality in the East Midlands shows the greatest gap outside of London, with high-wealth households 12 times more wealthy than those worse off.
What the clusters tell us: Towns in the East Midlands fall disproportionately into the ‘uncertain industrial futures’, ‘strong national identity’ and ‘fewer cultural opportunities’ clusters. This reflects these areas having had more recent industrial decline – thanks to the departure of lighter manufacturing jobs during the 2000s – coupled with, historically, more nationalist sentiments. Taken together these things could enflame one another, with a sense of loss fuelling nativism.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: The North East of England as a region shows a closer affiliation to the hostile tribes than to the liberal groups. The exception to this is Newcastle – parts of which sit within the top 100 LSOAs for confident multiculturalism. The strongest affinity to the most hostile tribes is in large towns. This contrasts to other regions, where it is small towns that foster the greatest affinity. This could be due to the North East’s relative isolation, meaning that larger towns like Middlesbrough and South Shields are particularly cut off.
What the clusters tell us: Towns in the North East fall most heavily into the ‘cross-cutting deprivation’, ‘shrinking and ageing’, ‘less connected’ and ‘traditional demographics’ clusters. This very much reflects the characteristic of the region, with longstanding industrial deprivation and loss being the abiding feature – rather than demographic change, population churn or cultural identity.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: Liberal views in the North West are most prevalent in the core cities of Manchester and Liverpool, as well as in the region’s villages and commuter towns. Medium and large towns are most likely to express hostile perspectives – especially post-industrial places or coastal towns, like Ince-in-Makerfield and Bootle.
What the clusters tell us: Towns in the North West are particularly likely to fall into the ‘shrinking and ageing’ and ‘visible decline’ clusters. There is also very high deprivation. The big qualitative difference from the North East is the much greater likelihood of towns falling into the ‘migration in the community’ cluster – thanks to the large south Asian populations in many Lancashire towns.
EAST OF ENGLAND
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: The East of England hosts no core cities, but the region’s university towns buck the regional trend, leaning more towards the liberal tribes. Cambridge and Norwich are among the most liberal places in the country. The most hostile attitudes are concentrated in the region’s coastal towns – such as Jaywick, which has been named the most deprived area in England.
What the clusters tell us: Towns in the East of England fall disproportionately into the ‘competition for resources’ cluster, with places like Wisbech having grown in recent years thanks to the arrival of EU migrant workers. Tensions have often occurred in places where towns lack the infrastructure or resources to support growing populations. The over-indexing for ‘authoritarian footprint’, meanwhile, reflects the historic electoral grip of UKIP in places like Clacton and Basildon.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: In the South West the ‘core city’ of Bristol leans most towards the liberal tribes – although different areas of the city cannot be homogenised, with some of the most liberal and most hostile attitudes emerging in the city’s contrasting sides. Small and medium towns are most likely to have higher proportions of the latent hostile group.
What the clusters tell us: Many South West towns fall into the ‘less connected’ cluster, especially those in Devon and Cornwall. The likes of Penzance face unique challenges in that they are very isolated and face the challenges of other seasonal tourist economies – while also being prime locations for second home ownership for those living in cities. Meanwhile South West towns also under-index for ‘uncertain industrial futures’. Areas like Chard and Bridgewater are not typically thought of as post-industrial areas, but have seen significant decline in manufacturing and a shift towards logistics and distribution centres.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: Of all regions in England and Wales, the South East holds the strongest affiliation to the liberal tribes. This reflects there being more wealth and opportunity, as well as more diverse populations. Interestingly there is a distinct difference between inner and outer London, with inner London much more positive. Hostility is greatest in seaside towns and in regions of Kent, meanwhile, where pockets of major deprivation remain.
What the clusters tell us: South East towns are more likely to have ‘Coastal challenges’. Sheerness, for example, has seen industrial decline and Havant has lost out on economic renewal compared to areas like Brighton. South East towns are also more likely to fall into the ‘Fewer heritage assets’, ‘Rapid change’ and ‘Competition for resources’ clusters. All of these things reflect, in different ways, the proximity to London – which means more commuter suburbs and New Towns, faster demographic change and greater population pressures.
What the Fear and Hope attitudinal data says: The most hostile attitudes emerge in Wales’ post-industrial areas. These are small ex-mining communities in the valleys and isolated rural regions, which have faced socioeconomic decline thanks to the closure of the region’s pits. Conversely, Cardiff shows a stronger affiliation to the confident multicultural tribe, a lively city with a large student population.
What the clusters tell us: Welsh towns face significant challenges of ‘shrinking and ageing’ populations, ‘cross-cutting deprivation’ and ‘fewer cultural opportunities’.