What the news-makers are saying about current issues on social media…
A discussion on the media, journalism, social media, technology and modern day politics.
Oct 15

PMQs 15 October 2014

James Donald

Ed Miliband had a post-conference trick up his sleeve as he surprised David Cameron with a question about comments made by Lord Freud. Miliband claimed that at a Conservative conference fringe event Lord Freud said disabled people should be paid below the minimum wage. Labour MPs were quick to express their outrage and calls for his resignation, posting over 100 tweets.

There was much attention on Douglas Carswell’s first question as a UKIP MP, on the Recall Bill, and Cameron’s decision to give a polite response.

PMQs 15 Oct Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Sep 10

#Indyref: more interest in #RoyalBaby, but only briefly…

James Donald

At the start of the week the undisputed biggest story of the moment was the Scottish independence referendum. What was previously a comfortable lead for No had been wiped out; one poll even showed Yes having taken the lead.

But then came the announcement that a second Royal Baby is on the way. There were the inevitable jokes and questions about what this meant for the outcome of the Indyref campaigns, but just what impact did it have on coverage of the referendum? Did it remain the biggest story?

Royal Baby Scotland

Whilst the royal announcement briefly distracted from the referendum, overall Scotland remained the most tweeted about story.

There were only 47 tweets from politicians on the royal baby compared to 1265 on the referendum. Journalists showed more interest in the royal story, but tweets on the referendum still outnumbered tweets on the baby 2743 to 1350. As the graph below shows, royal baby tweets from journalists only briefly outnumbered referendum ones.

Indy Ref graph
Tweets per hour from journalists, 8 Sep – 9 Sep

When the announcement was made at 10:30 on Monday, tweets about the royal baby hugely outnumbered those about the referendum. But just a few hours later, from 14:00 onwards, the referendum was tweeted about more and this is how it remained until the end of Tuesday. There was a big drop off after the initial announcement, from a peak of over 500 tweets in the first two hours to fewer than 50 an hour for most of the rest of the two days.

Following the morning news cycle on Tuesday, talk about the royal baby completely tailed off whereas tweets about the referendum increased when David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg announced they were skipping PMQs to go to Scotland.

The royal baby announcement may have created a lot of buzz initially, but it’s proved to only be a temporary distraction as the referendum gets ever closer.

Posted in Scotland |
Sep 03

PMQs 3 September 2014

James Donald

PMQs 3 Sep Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Jul 18

The Scottish Independence Referendum – the failings of the vote yes social media campaign…

Joe Ibrahim

The referendum on Scottish independence is a huge talking point, and nowhere more so than among politicians themselves. But what effect is this political conversation having on the polls? The short answer is ‘not a lot’. While there is far more noise being generated by the yes campaign (with 70% of the posts supporting vote yes), the results from the polls show that around 60% of decided voters are still going to vote no. Could the social media campaign have been more effective? Yatterbox has had a look at the figures.

One key problem for vote yes has been the lack of individual politicians supporting their cause. Although they are creating more noise, there are fewer politicians arguing for vote yes. Of the 151 politicians posting about the referendum, only 47 are in the vote yes camp  and one third of all vote yes posts came from just two politicians – Christina McKelvie and Angus Macneil. This means that the Yes campaign is limited in terms of the breadth of its readership on social media. Sending the same message to the same group of followers over and over may have less effect than a more diverse campaign that reaches more people.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the polls match more closely with the numbers of politicians campaigning for each side than they do with the amount of noise being made by the respective camps.

pie charts

It is also interesting to look at the support bases for each side: vote no have seen posts from members of 8 different political parties (including Labour, Conservatives, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats), whereas vote yes has only received posts from 2 (the SNP and Plaid Cymru) with 90% of posts coming from the SNP. This exacerbates the problem of a lack of breadth to yes campaign’s readership.

But this isn’t the whole story. We have seen some powerful campaigns pushed by just one politician or a small group of individuals. Stella Creasy, for example, was influential in the #banknotes and #onebillionrising campaigns. So why is it different for the yes campaign?

Compare the following campaign tweets from Angus MacNeil and Christina McKelvie with one from Stella Creasy:

combined tweets

The argument from Angus MacNeil seems only tangentially relevant to the independence debate and Christina McKelvie’s post doesn’t present any idea in the message itself. In contrast, the third post from Stella Creasy has a clear idea (we should celebrate women), a clear and simple objective (get the Prime Minister to agree with this statement) and a clear action (RT if you agree). This seems more effective.

With the yes campaign making up 70% of the social media conversation from MPs, it seems that it is putting concerted effort into using social media as a campaign tool. But achieving an impact on social media requires more than just creating a lot of noise. We are seeing more and more political and brand campaigns on Twitter and Facebook, but in this case, at least, it seems like the Yes campaign is falling short of the mark.

Posted in Political Monitoring, Scotland, Social Media |
Jul 16

PMQs 16 July 2014

James Donald

This week’s reshuffle was the top issue in the final PMQs before the summer recess with questions from both Ed Miliband and the backbenches.

Miliband decided to focus on Michael Gove’s move from Education Secretary to Chief Whip but there was little reaction from MPs on Twitter to either this or women in the Cabinet.

In an exchange on the economy David Cameron accused Labour of wanting to raise taxes for middle earners. Several pundits on Twitter predicted this will be a common Conservative line in the run up to the election, unless Labour rule it out.

PMQs 16 Jul Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Jul 09

PMQs 9 July 2014

James Donald

Ed Miliband returned to A&E waiting times after the House of Commons Library called David Cameron’s claims in PMQs last week ‘simplistic’. Cameron refused to admit fault, but it was widely felt by journalists that Miliband hadn’t landed the blows he might have.

Miliband also raised questions on recent alleged child abuse cases. Cameron’s view that it ‘may well be time’ to make failure to report abuse a crime drew particular attention on Twitter.

PMQs 9 Jul Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Jul 02

PMQs 2 July 2014

James Donald

The NHS was the top issue in today’s PMQs with Ed Miliband particularly interested in access to cancer treatment. In response David Cameron was quick to bring up the Labour run NHS in Wales, but Miliband claimed he only wanted to talk about Wales because he didn’t want to talk about his record in England.

Several journalists saw this line of questioning as an attempt for Miliband to escape his troubles by focusing on Labour’s strongest issue.

Two questions on rent prices provoked a reaction on Twitter. Diane Abbott asked about tenants in her constituency facing steep increases and Jeremy Corbyn called for rent controls claiming “social cleansing is coming to London” because of high prices.

PMQs 2 Jul Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Jun 25

PMQs 25 June 2014

James Donald

After a quiet PMQs last week MPs had more to tweet about today with Andy Coulson’s guilty verdict in the hacking trial.

Miliband used all his questions on Coulson pushing Cameron on his judgement and the vetting process at the time of the appointment. Cameron’s main defence was the findings of the Leveson Inquiry, which he repeatedly used in response to Miliband.

Towards the end of the session a question from Sir Gerald Howarth on Juncker and the European Commission presidency rallied Conservative backbenchers and ensured there were some tweets on something other than Coulson.

PMQs 25 Jun Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Jun 18

PMQs 18 June 2014

James Donald

Iraq was the top issue in today’s PMQs with questions on the ongoing crisis from backbenchers as well as Ed Miliband. A range of factors in the current situation were covered including the problem of British militants, Iran’s position, and what aid is being given by Britain.

There was no shortage of tweets from journalists and commentators on Iraq, but MPs tweeted less about the issue. Labour in particular were quieter than usual especially during Cameron and Miliband’s exchange. They did however have a little more to say when Natascha Engel asked a question about NHS waiting times signalling the return of some partisan points scoring.

PMQs 18 Jun Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |
Jun 11

PMQs 11 June 2014

James Donald

With the Queen’s Speech last week, today saw the first PMQs of this session. Ed Miliband split his questions between attacks on the Department for Education, following the row over extremism, and the Home Office after passport delays. The Labour party were clearly keen to push these issues hard in contrast to the Government whose MPs tweeted less than usual.

PMQs 11 Jun Small

Posted in Infographics, PMQs |