Election 97

VRML animation
New dimensions

Add a third dimension to your understanding of the 1997 general election - load up some of our VRML worlds and find out where the votes really are. Regional commentaries by Robert Waller and VRML by Fin Fahey

The world of the Internet is a fast-moving one. When the 1992 General Election took place, it is probable that not one person in 100 in the UK had heard of the World Wide Web. Now it is on almost everyone's lips. In this year's election, the full power of the Net can be trained on explaining, analysing and commenting on the contest. New technologies, not even conceived of in 1992, are available to help you make up your own mind about what's happening. Among them is VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language), invented in 1994, which enables us to present the political map of Britain as you've never seen it before - in three dimensions.

Wales VRML If you've never encountered VRML, never fear. Take a look at our help page, which will tell you all you need to know to get started. But here's a quick summary of the situation - if your browser is...

Netscape 3: You should have no difficulty loading our VRML pages, since this carries the necessary plug-in, Live 3D Version 1.0. Note, however, that Live 3D is ever changing, and you may wish to download Netscape's latest version of Live3D 1.0 or their beta version of Live 3D 2.0, a VRML 2.0 plug-in with which these maps should work very well.

Minimal Netscape 3: If you have downloaded this cut-down version to save line time, you will now need to download the Live 3D 1.0 plug-in from Netscape.

Netscape 2 or earlier: See minimal Netscape 3.

Internet Explorer: Microsoft's VRML add-in for Explorer is now available as a download from the Microsoft site. Based on Intervista Worldview, it is slightly faster than Netscape's plug-ins, but this is offset by the crudity of its rendering.

Any other browser: Well, and this goes for everyone, take heart, there are more options around than simply those provided by Netscape and Microsoft - many stand-alone VRML browsers actually offer the best performance. Watch the links section on our help page for more info.

A broad range of views
Throughout the election campaign, we shall be presenting a range of 3D representations of the British political map, showing you where the masses of votes are, where the parties' support is, where people turn out in droves to vote - and where they stay home.

You are welcome to use screen captures of our VRML worlds on your site, or in your publication, provided that you credit The Internet Factory Ltd - and, in the case of the web, include a link to this site.

We kick off with a series of regional VRML worlds that show you how the constituencies would vote if the result were exactly as in 1992 - and how many electors there are in each constituency.

Conventional flat maps of British elections suffer from a fatal flaw - they can show what areas voted in each party, but they offer no inkling of the true size of the constituency units in population terms. The result is particularly chastening for Labour supporters - the nation appears as a mass of Tory blue, with a few tiny concentrations of red. Those tiny red blobs, however, represent great swathes of the UK population. Britain was the first country in the world to move away from a primarily agrarian economy, and it is still one of the most urbanised in the world, especially when compared with other European countries and the United States.

The VRML worlds depicted here will correct that view. Each constituency is coloured according to the party that would probably have won in 1992:

Red: Labour
Blue: Conservative
Yellow: Liberal Democrat
Green: Nationalist (Scottish Nationalist in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales)

The constituency boundaries are the new ones, as determined by the Boundary Commission in 1996. However each constituency is represented as a bar, where the height represents the density of electors in that division. This makes for a volumetric map - the volume of an area is proportional to the total numbers of votes cast in that area. On this view, you can clearly see the red Labour mountains looming over a largely blue countryside.

It's time to take a look for yourself so, without further ado, here are all the regions of Britain in 3D. If you have a lower performance machine with restricted memory, kill all applications apart from your web browser and start with one of the smaller regions like East Anglia. Click and enjoy.

Regional imagemap East Anglia

The East Midlands

The North

North West England

Scotland

South East England

South West England

Wales

The West Midlands

Yorkshire & Humberside