Friday 19 December 2014

Top 100 Tweeting Politics Commentators 2014

This year I have bitten the bullet. Since 2009 (with a gap in 2011) I have been tracking the one hundred most popular political bloggers on Twitter (see here, here, here and here). All told, it's been jolly click bait. But for the academic geek in me, these lists have recorded the progressive professionalisation of what was once an amateur's market. Each year it has become increasingly tenuous to hold on to a strict definition of blogging as most mainstream news sites now integrate what were once considered the accoutrements of blogs (comments, hyperlinks, etc.) as a matter of course. And so this year I've abandoned the distinction altogether. The top 100 tweeting politics bloggers now becomes the top 100 politics commentators on Twitter. Yes, like a crafty badger nemesis of Owen Paterson's I have moved the goal posts.

The rules for inclusion on this list are relatively straightforward. The below all provide comment on UK politics regularly, and use print, radio, television, video and the internet to do it. They also have serve up something other than just tweets. Folks are listed in order of followers accumulated.

Remaining on the list are dedicated blogging sites that act as collective commentators. So old favourites like Guido and CiF are staying put. The line is drawn at newspapers and magazines. If there's a dedicated blogging platform associated with them, the feed for that platform is listed here. However, we bid adieu to blogging politicians, prospective parliamentary candidates, and members of the Lords. No Tom Watson, John Prescott, or Lord Ashcroft I'm afraid. This is 100% pure commentariat.

The numbers in brackets indicate the position held in last year's round up.

Right, that's quite enough from me for the moment. Did you make the list?

1. Russell Brand (8.77m followers)
2. Piers Morgan (4.31m followers)
3. (1) Jon Snow (572k followers)
4. (2) Robert Peston (440k followers)
5. (4) Nick Robinson (319k followers)
6. (3) Alastair Campbell (286k followers)
7. Katie Hopkins (274k followers)
8. (5) Owen Jones (237k followers)
9. Andrew Neil (195k followers)
10. Evan Davis (174k followers)
11. (8) Krishnan Guru-Murthy (155k followers)
12. (9) Mehdi Hasan (153k followers)
13. Laura Kuenssberg (149k followers)
14. Alan Rusbridger (146k followers)
15. (7) Guido Fawkes (139k followers)
16. (10) Comment is Free (114k followers)
17. (12) Paul Mason (111k followers)
18. George Monbiot (111k followers)
19. Polly Toynbee (108k followers)
20. (11) Laurie Penny (103k followers)
21. Mark Steel (95.3k followers)
22. (13) Louise Mensch (87.9k followers)
23. (17) Faisal Islam (84.3k followers)
24. (19) Fraser Nelson (79.6k followers)
25. Mary Beard (77.7k followers)
26. (18) Michael Crick (76.2k followers)
27. (20) Cathy Newman (75.5k followers)
28. Kevin Maguire (75.4k followers)
29. Fleet Street Fox (72.5k followers)
30. David Aaronovitch (68.3k followers)
31. (36) Jack Monroe (63.9k followers)
32. Will Black (62.5k followers)
33. Tim Montgomerie (61.6k followers)
34. Adam Boulton (61.2k followers)
35. Paul Waugh (56.7k followers)
36. (21) David Allen Green (54.7k followers)
37. (22) Iain Dale (54.1k followers)
38. Peter Tatchell (51.6k followers)
39. Will Self (51.4k followers)
40. James O'Brien (50.4k followers)
41. Hugo Rifkind (50.3k followers)
42. (25) Sunny Hundal (50.2k followers)
43. (23) Left Foot Forward (49.3k followers)
44. Suzanne Moore (47.1k followers)
45. Zoe Williams (46.2k followers)
46. (28) Helen Lewis (41.9k followers)
47. (32) New Economics Foundation (41.9k followers)
48. (34) John Rentoul (41.6k followers)
49. (31) Gideon Rachman (41.5k followers)
50. (27) Toby Young (40.9k followers)
51. The Artist Taxi Driver (39.4k followers)
52. (30) Michael White (38.5k followers)
53. (33) Andrew Sparrow (37.9k followers)
54. (43) Eoin Clarke (37k followers)
55. Wings Over Scotland (36.8k followers)
56. (40) Harry Cole (36.7k followers)
57. (41) Sophy Ridge (36.6k followers)
58. Nick Ferrari (36.2k followers)
59. Deborah Orr (36.2k followers)
60. (39) LabourList (35.9k followers)
61. (38) Political Scrapbook (35.2k followers)
62. (42) British Politics and Policy at LSE (35.1k followers)
63. (35) FT Westminster Blog (33.8k followers)
64. Patrick Wintour (33.6k followers)
65. Mohammed Ansar (33.2k followers)
66. (37) C4 News FactCheck (32.7k followers)
67. (46) The F-Word (32.3k followers)
68. Conservative Home (32.1k followers)
69. (48) Dan Hodges (31.8k followers)
70. (70) Isabel Hardman (31.4k followers)
71. Janet Street-Porter (31.2k followers)
72. (88) Bella Caledonia (30.6k followers)
73. (45) Caroline Criado-Perez (29.8k followers)
74. (52) 38 Degrees (29.2k followers)
75. (51) Nick Cohen (28.6k followers)
76. (47) Demos (28.4k followers)
77. (53) Open Democracy (27.8k followers)
78. James Landale (27.3k followers)
79. The Fabians (27.3k followers)
80. Isabel Oakeshott (27.1k followers)
81. (50) The Spectator Coffee House (26.7k followers)
82. Kirsty Wark (26.4k followers)
83. (55) David Blanchflower (25.9k followers)
84. Seamas Milne (25.9k followers)
85. Allegra Stratton (25.7k followers)
86. (54) Iain Martin (25.5k followers)
87. Bonnie Greer (25.4k followers)
88. (49) False Economy (25.4k followers)
89. Matt Frei (25.3k followers)
90. Jane Merrick (23.9k followers)
91. (56) Richard Murphy (23.8k followers)
92. Alex Andreou (23.7k followers)
93. Sam Coates (23.7k followers)
94. Tim Shipman (23k followers)
95. Paris Lees (22.5k followers)
96. (60) James Delingpole (22.3k followers)
97. James Chapman (21.9k followers)
98. (57) Gary Gibbon (21.7k followers)
99. Aditya Chakrabortty (21.6k followers)
100. (73) Jennifer Izaakson (21.4k followers)

And there you have it, a list utterly dominated by professional journalists and opinion writers. By my reckoning, less than 20 listed here started off life in the comment equivalent of a suburban garage. Bloggers who began with nothing but an internet connection and no prior relationship to party and media elites are even more sparse.

I believe writing a new blog post should be an educational experience, and I found out quite a few things while compiling this. That, for instance, I've been blocked by Toby Young. No idea why as I've had no interaction with this peculiar little man. Presumably at a point in time 140 characters worth of my wisdom were tweeted into his timeline by persons unknown and caused him some annoyance. Good.

I also discovered that no matter which way I looked at it, I could not avoid including Katie Hopkins. Yes, she's a professional troll with no redeeming features and even fewer things of interest to say, but she does regularly write on and mouth off about politics. This list does not adjudicate the quality of what our commentators say. If it did she'd be off it quicker than you can say "and take James Delingpole with you".

And another finding coloured me gobsmacked. Our most popular commentators are blokes. Only 24 are women, 56 are men and 20 are collective efforts. I don't know where our commentariat live, but most of them look like Londoners too. That's consistent with a little study I did last year. Lastly, just six are drawn from minority ethnicities and only three, to my knowledge, openly identify themselves as LGBT.

As is always the case, someone gets left out. That obvious commentator always glaring you in the face who you cannot see. This year, Kevin Maguire and Laura Kuenssberg almost fell foul of that. Is there anyone else? Do let me know below and I'll amend the list. Think of it as a rough, unready beta in need of a patch. I'll update the post with any subsequent revisions.

The traditional top 100 independent politics bloggers will follow on New Year's Day as per.

Update 20/12
Thanks to the helpful watchers in the comment box, there have been a few additions to the list. There is Will Black at 32, James O'Brien at 40, Sam Coates at 92, Tim Shipman at 93, and lastly James Chapman at 96. The prospect of adding Charlie Brooker was raised but I'm afraid I've ruled him out as he is not a regular churner-outer of political comment. Sorry to disappoint, fella.

Are there more I've missed? Probably. Do let me know if someone else should be on this list. *And remember*, this is ordered by accumulated Twitter followers, nothing else.

Update 28/12
One glaring oversight - Hugo Rifkind has now bounced into number 41, meaning the Adam Smith Institute fall out of the bottom. Shame.


Anonymous said...

James O'Brien has >50k followers, he is a Labour party bloke moonlighting on LBC.

Anonymous said...

@samcoatestimes @jameschappers @shippersunbound

Anonymous said...

Wow, Katie Hopkins and James Depondlife (or whatever his name is) but no Charlie Brooker, Will Black or Peter Jukes.

Phil said...

Don't rub it in. Update to come.

Anonymous said...

I can't spot Tom Pride there. Certainly more prolific than many on the list and worthy of inclusion

Phil said...

You won't because at 13,200 followers he's significantly off the 21.2k needed to get on the list.

Why don't people just read things?

ejh said...

Have you considered putting (A) next to the non-professional commentators, like they do in golf?

Phil said...

I hadn't, but I think it's superfluous considering the independent list is coming on New Year's day.