Here are some 3d maps showing population density across England and Wales

Oooooooooooh. Image: Parallel.

Pssst. Wanna see some good maps? Try this on for size:

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That is the population density of the Greater London area, represented by both colour and bar height: flat, tall, blue areas are the countryside; tall, dark red ones are basically Hong Kong on Thames. The tallest bar, poking so far out of the East End that from this angle it seems to reach into Hertfordshire, is Canary Wharf, where a lot of people live in a very small space.

All this the work of Leeds-based mapping and data visualisation studio Parallel. (The science part: it's mid-2015 population estimates for the lower super output areas used by the Office for National Statistics.) The map on their site is fully interactive. So you can rotate it, to look down from above:

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...which mostly goes to show how under populated the London borough of Bromley is compared to all the others.

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If you keep zooming out – which, admittedly, involves changing your browser settings (Ctrl + -) ­– you can start to see the shape of the capital’s commuter belt. It seems to extend further from west to east, along the Thames from Reading to Southend, than it does from north to south, where hills start to get in the way.

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Up in the Midlands, you can see how Birmingham and Wolverhampton are a single conurbation, but Coventry is separated from it by several miles of open countryside – just one of many smaller cities with close ties to Birmingham.

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It's a similar effect in the north east where green belt means Sunderland still stands slightly apart from the rest of Tyne & War.

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Looked at like this, Liverpool and the Wirral look like one city, but the towns of the borough of Sefton (Southport, Formby) look separate.

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Greater Manchester looks more coherent, although Wigan, far to the west, doesn't look much more integrated than Warrington.

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Zoom  out, and you can sort of see how Manchester sits at the centre of a network of northern towns and cities.

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Even if you zoom further out, sort of. I've circled Manchester in yellow, to highlight the point:

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We've not really talked about Wales. Mostly because it's basically empty.

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You can even spin the map round, if that's your bag.

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Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

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I'm going to stop there because I could keep going all day. Anyway – you should go play with the map yourself, is the point. Here's the link.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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Tatton MP Esther McVey thinks Leeds is south of Birmingham for some reason

Great hair, though: Esther McVey. Image: Getty.

Earlier this morning, while everyone was focused on the implosion of the Labour party, former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey decided it was the perfect moment to promote her campaign against High Speed 2.

A quick reminder of the route of the proposed high speed rail link. Phase One will run from London to Birmingham. Should Phase Two ever go ahead, it will split just beyond Birmingham to create a y-shaped network, with one arm running to Manchester and the other to Leeds.

The map McVey tweeted this morning suggests that she doesn't know this. But that is, at worst, the seventh worst thing about the map, because, look:

Let’s look at that a big more closely:

Yep. How many things are wrong with it? Let’s count.

1) Manchester is not east of Leeds;

2) Leeds is not south of Birmingham;


3) Both Manchester and Leeds are further from London than Birmingham, rather than, as this map suggests, closer;

4) To get from London to Manchester you kind of have to pass Birmingham, Esther;

5) There is no railway line that runs from London to Leeds to Birmingham because that would be a really stupid way round, what with Leeds being quite a long way north of Birmingham;

6) Should the government decide to boost the north by scrapping Hs2 and improving east-west lines instead, those improved east-west lines will not cross the proposed route of HS2 Phase One because they are quite a long way to the north of it.

Okay I'm going to stop there and get back to staring at the flaming bin fire that we loving call the Labour party. But for the record, Esther: I'm not taking advice on transport policy from anyone who doesn't know where Leeds is.

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.