Friday 27 December 2013

Top 100 Tweeting Bloggers 2013

That awkward interregnum between Christmas and New Year. What is one to do? For politicos should we go full bore on our hobby horses as if it was a normal week. Or should we ease off and enjoy the wine, the mince pies and our recently-acquired selection of woolly jumpers? I'm all for a mix of both, if I'm honest. A bit of r'n'r, a few reflective/year-in-review postings on here, and business-as-usual on everyone's favourite micro-blogging site. That's the cue to segue into my annual list-a-thon of the Top 100 Tweeting Bloggers on, erm, Twitter. Long-time readers know this is an annual thing for me, being obsessed as I am with the cataloging and listing of the irrelevancies of our (social) mediatised lives. You can see how the list below has evolved between 2009 and today (missing the hiatus year of 2011) by looking here, here and here.

I have to say this every year. I define political blogging in a particular way. If you refer to your site as a blog, but do not allow comments then no, you're not a blogger. That excludes most MPs at a stroke, for instance. If you blog behind a pay wall then no, you're not a blogger either. To qualify, our tweeting political bloggers have to be contributing to something that identifies itself as a blog, regardless of whether it's a traditional blogging platform, something bespoke, or a site hosted by a media organisation. As a general rule, self-definitions vary according to context. For example, speaking to Nick Cohen last year he said he saw himself as a journo/writer and not a blogger. But clearly he is, as he regularly rattles pieces off for Speccie blogs. However, journos like Polly Toynbee and Zoe Williams aren't bloggers - they write for The Graun proper and not Comment is Free, despite the site (like most newspapers) co-opting the accoutrements one would associate with blogging - extensive hyperlinking, comments, favourite and share buttons, etc.

That's 'blogger' sorted, but what about politics? I have a wide, encompassing definition. Some might say it's a slippery customer, an understanding that rolls around in KY jelly, yet it seems straightforward to me. If a blogger writes about politics, they're in. So David Allen Green, nominally a legal blogger, writes about legislative issues and matters of law that directly impinge on politics. Which is why he's listed. Newcomer-to-the-list Jack Monroe, ostensibly a food blogger, writes frequently about anti-poverty matters. That counts as a little bit of politics in my book, so she's in. I think you get the gist by now.

When does a blogger become an ex-blogger? When a) retirement has been announced, or b) there hasn't been a post by the blogger in question on either their independently-maintained site or another blog for some 45 days.

Okay, I'll shut up about definitions now. Please find below the top 100 blogging tweeters in politics for 2013, listed by number of followers. It is inclusive of individual bloggers and sites with Twitter feeds. How did you and/or your favourites fare?

1. (><) Jon Snow (371,137 followers)
2. (><) Robert Peston (317,272 followers)
3. (><) Alastair Campbell (259,021 followers)
4. (><) Nick Robinson (212,242 followers)
5. (+3) Owen Jones (154,600 followers)
6. (-1) Tom Watson MP (135,906 followers)
7. (-1) Guido Fawkes (120,704 followers)
8. (-1) Krishnan Guru-Murthy (115,176 followers)
9. (+8) Mehdi Hasan (106,240 followers)
10. (-1) Comment is Free (95,508 followers)
11. (><) Laurie Penny (85,458 followers)
12. (-2) Paul Mason (82,393 followers)
13. (NE) Louise Mensch (80,520 followers)
14. (+2) New Statesman (76,315 followers)
15. (-2) Caroline Lucas (70,610 followers)
16. (+3) Huffington Post UK (69,622 followers)
17. (-3) Faisal Islam (68,347 followers)
18. (-3) Michael Crick (64,135 followers)
19. (-1) Fraser Nelson (60,649 followers)
20. (+2) Cathy Newman (54,922 followers)
21. (-1) David Allen Green (47,071 followers)
22. (+1) Iain Dale (46,121 followers)
23. (+3) Left Foot Forward (40,894 followers)
24. (NE) Yvette Cooper (40,417 followers)
25. (+2) Sunny Hundal (40,015 followers)
26. (+2) Daniel Hannan (39,615 followers)
27. (-3) Toby Young (39,114 followers)
28. (+6) Helen Lewis (37,147 followers)
29. (+4) Benedict Brogan (36,088 followers)
30. (-1) Michael White (34,465 followers)
31. (+1) Gideon Rachman (34,271 followers)
32. (NE) New Economics Foundation (33,832 followers)
33. (-2) Andrew Sparrow (32,528 followers)
34. (+4) John Rentoul (32,238 followers)
35. (-5) FT Westminster Blog (30,911 followers)
36. (NE) Jack Monroe (30,656 followers)
37. (NE) C4 News Fact Check Blog (30,343 followers)
38. (-3) Political Scrapbook (30,227 followers)
39. (-2) Labour List (30,087 followers)
40. (-1) Harry Cole (29,957 followers)
41. (-5) Sophy Ridge (29,193 followers)
42. (NE) British Politics and Policy at LSE (26,888 followers)
43. (-3) Eoin Clarke (26,303 followers)
44. (><) Conservative Home (25,539 followers)
45. (NE) Caroline Criado-Perez (24,121 followers)
46. (+12) The F-Word (23,545 followers)
47. (-6) Demos (23,369 followers)
48. (+20) Dan Hodges (22,633 followers)
49. (-7) False Economy (22,447 followers)
50. (-5) The Spectator Coffee House (22,057 followers)
51. (+12) Nick Cohen (21,444 followers)
52. (-4) 38 Degrees (21,360 followers)
53. (-7) Open Democracy (21,228 followers)
54. (-7) Iain Martin (21,075 followers)
55. (+10) David Blanchflower (20,768 followers)
56. (-6) Richard Murphy (20,127 followers)
57. (-6) Gary Gibbon (19,165 followers)
58. (NE) Jim Murphy (18,638 followers)
59. (-6) Adam Smith Institute (17,923 followers)
60. (-4) James Delingpole (17,724 followers)
61. (+1) Douglas Carswell MP (17,360 followers)
62. (NE) Liam Byrne (17,329 followers)
63. (+1) James Kirkup (16,972 followers)
64. (-4) Lynne Featherstone MP (15,989 followers)
65. (-8) Charlie Beckett (15,424 followers)
66. (+1) Ellie Mae O'Hagan (15,270 followers)
67. (+4) New Left Project (14,468 followers)
68. (-2) Labour Uncut (14,339 followers)
69. (NE) John McDonnell (14,210 followers)
70. (NE) Isabel Hardman (13,355 followers)
71. (+25) Labour Left (13,303 followers)
72. (+1) Progress (13,177 followers)
73. (NE) Jennifer Izaakson (13,075 followers)
74. (+6) Mark Ferguson (13,037 followers)
75. (NE) Julian Huppert (12,815 followers)
76. (-4) Joey Jones (12,350 followers)
77. (-7) The Commentator (12,285 followers)
78. (NE) Dan Jarvis (12,252 followers)
79. (-4) Archbishop Cranmer (12,110 followers)
80. (-2) Dawn Foster (11,700 followers)
81. (-5) LibDem Voice (11,470 followers)
82. (+5) Mike Smithson (11,213 followers)
83. (NE) Esther McVey (11,184 followers
84. (NE) Mark Thompson (11,148 followers)
85. (+15) Jim Pickard (11,044 followers)
86. (+6) Another Angry Woman (10,815 followers)
87. (NE) Boycott Workfare (10,775 followers)
88. (NE) Bella Caledonia (10,585 followers)
89. (-7) Compass (10,445 followers)
90. (NE) Andrew Gwynne (10,366 followers)
91. (-10) Jacqui Smith (10,225 followers)
92. (-12) Jonathan Isaby (9,944 followers)
93. (NE) Libcom (9,920 followers)
94. (NE) Robert Halfon (9,897 followers)
95. (-6) Jon Worth (9,868 followers)
96. (-19) Cath Elliott (9,628 followers)
97. (NE) Andy Slaughter (9,538 followers)
98. (-14) Diary of a Benefit Scrounger (9,522 followers)
99. (NE) Paul Goodman (9,435 followers)
100. (NE) Telegraph Blogs (9,428 followers)

To absolutely no one's surprise the list is dominated by "professional" bloggers - those who blog for a living, or discharge a blog as part of their journo responsibilities. Falling out of the list from the top 50 this year are the recently-retired Liberal Conspiracy (though Sunny's still knocking about), ex-of-Sky Glen Oglaza, Tim Montgomerie who now does things behind the dirty digger's paywall at The Times, Adam Boulton who doesn't bother penning blogs any more and Stephanie Flanders. She traded last year's number 12 spot in for a reputed £400k/year at JP Morgan, so who can blame her?

On the face of it there are plenty of new entries, but many of these are MPs who happen to blog and have not been caught by the list in previous years. Still, kudos to all MPs who run proper blogs with proper comment facilities. The highest new entry is, of course, Louise Mensch. Content these days to moan about The Graun's role in exposing the NSA's global (and unconstitutional) wiretapping/internet monitoring surveillance programme and totally oblivious to the massive violation of freedom and civil liberties it embodies, she crashes in at number 13 (allow me this opportunity to plug this post on conservative feminism too).

24, 35, 36, 41 and 44 sees entry into the top 50 from Yvette Cooper, Jack Monroe, C4 Fact Check, the LSE Politics Blog, and Caroline Criado-Perez. A proper riddle is the new arrival of independent blogger Oliver James at 57. And no, he's not this Oliver James. To have just shy of 20,000 followers off the back of a seldom updated and bland-looking blog is enough to raise an eyebrow. But still, this list does not care for how one acquires a Twitter audience. It is merely enough to note it, and move on.

Other notables are the 21 place climb from Dan Hodges, proving there is a bigger market than anyone thought for cricket commentary and anti-Ed Miliband Kremlinology. Also notable in the lower part of the list is the 25 point jump by Labour Left. Heading in the other direction is the 23 place fall by my Tory Twitter friend and Boris Johnson obsessive, Angela Neptustar. In all about a quarter of the list (not counting MPs) are made up of bloggers who do not rely on "professional" platforms to get their views out there. There's no reason to believe this squeeze on cool indie-types (like me) won't continue over the course of the next year, and as it does so I expect the "mobility" of people who make the list, especially near the top, will slow right down. This reflects the crystallisation of a comment establishment and the London-centric character of political blogging. This will partially be corrected by the arrival on New Year's Day of my annual countdown of the 100 most-followed tweeting independent bloggers.

Of course, as is the nature of these things the endeavour to be complete often means someone was inadvertently left out. If you think a tweeting blogger has been overlooked, let me know in the comments below.

Update 31st December
Thankfully I haven't had to make too many revisions this year. There are three blogs I missed off as per the definition who've now been included. And they are all new entries. In at 32 is the New Economic Foundation's blog. 73 sees an appearance from HuffPoUK blogger, Jennifer Izaakson and lastly at 96 is the new(ish) editor of Conservative Home, Paul Goodman.

Lastly, I have decided not to count the aforementioned Oliver James and have so removed him. Of course, I doubt very much he purchased followers so he could have a high ranking on this here list. But nonetheless as his musings only reach a few hundred real people and the rest appears on feeds manned by zombie Twitter accounts I don't think he should be recognised. Expect a future blog post on the meaning of Twitter followers very soon.

Update 1st January
Final additions are Mark of Mark Reckons fame at 84, Boycott Workfare at 87 and Libcom at 93, thereby pushing out Angela Neptustar, Richard Seymour and Mark Wallace of ConHome.


David Walsh said...

As you say, Londoncentric. I can only see 3 that are from outwith the M25 beltway,

Facing Reality said...

I don't use twitter really, so can Facing Reality enter? You may like my latest post, a festive Quiz on which Leninist group have done/said which crazy thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Wings Over Scotland isn't on your list.

With well over 100 000 unique visitors a month it is the leading political blog in Scotland.

As it meets your definitions on what grounds is it excluded?

Phil said...

These are ranked by number of Twitter followers. So while Wings may be a massive hit, its 6,000 or so followers means it falls far short of the 9,000-odd ti be included here. That said it should make the upcoming independents' list.

jimboo said...

Wings Over Scotland is mainly where Nationalists go to refresh their spirits after a hard day banging their heads against the brick wall of public indifference. I think it is hard for people outside Scotland to understand what a damp squib the whole referendum debate turned out to be.The moment Alex Salmond demanded that an Independent Scotland retain the pound under the control of the Bank of England reality was abandoned..

Dan Filson said...

Ranking by followers is unsound - tey could be people too idle to unfollow or who even have drfited away from even reading Twitter.

Phil said...

A better method would be ratios as that's a better indicator of someone's real world influence than a mere Twitter count. But frankly I haven't the time to stick all one hundred through ratio calculations.

Matt Wardman said...

Far be it from me to nasturtiums, but OliverJamesUK has some interesting patterns.

Jump from 13294 on Sep 8 2013 to 19139 on Sep 12 2013.

Collapse back to 15129 by Oct 12 2013.

Then jump to 20586 by Oct 20 2013.

Exclude him until he explains?

Phil said...

Cheers Matt. I've removed him from the list and he won't be featuring in tomorrow's independent round-up. Post to come on the meaning/importance of Twitter followers.

Anonymous said...

Is this 'OliverJamesUK' even a real person? Take a closer look at his Twitter photo - it looks like one of the faces they have on the players on the FIFA games.

Matt Wardman said...

> Post to come on the meaning/importance of Twitter followers.

That'll be short.

Let me provide you with your post.

"They save the rest of us time by enabling pretentious wankers to a engage in competitive pretentious wanking to themselves without anyone else needing to provide an audience."


"They save the rest of us from annoyance by channelling the outpourings of controversialists into channels that can be individually blocked."

Phil said...

It'll be somewhat more sociological than that ;)