Monday 19 December 2016

Top 100 Tweeting Politics Commentators 2016

If you're one of the thousands of people who pop by once a year to check out this list, welcome back. Have we got an interesting list for you. But before we go there, let's recap the rules.

This list is not a best of. This list is not a best of. Quality doesn't matter. The content of opinion doesn't matter. It is, as always, a simple compilation of 100 commentators on UK politics with the most followers on Twitter. This doesn't include professional politicians nor people who exclusively use Twitter as their outlet of choice, but it does include activists, campaign groups and think tanks - where they provide a steady stream of comment. It might be broadcasting, writing, or another new-fangled way of talking about politics, the medium and the message is irrelevant. And that's pretty much it. If on this occasion you have fewer than 41,000 followers, then you're not appearing on this list.

Why bother with this annual time sink? As I've done this since 2009 (with a break in 2011), it's chronicled the impressions left on Twitter by the gradual subsumption of independent, online political comment by the traditional media outlets. Glancing down the list, there are a handful of journalists and broadcasters who started with nothing more than a keyboard and internet connection, but the independent commentator without the backing of an established title or broadcaster is almost entirely absent. You might not find that terribly interesting, but geeks like me do.

Enough padding. Here's what you really came here for:

1. (RE) Russell Brand (12.1m followers)
2. (1) Piers Morgan (5.32m followers)
3. (2) Jon Snow (1.11m followers)
4. (3) Robert Peston (794k followers)
5. (5) Nick Robinson (712k followers)
6. (4) Katie Hopkins (667k followers)
7. (7) Andrew Neil (566k followers)
8. (10) Laura Kuenssberg (552k followers)
9. (6) Owen Jones (512k followers)
10. (9) Evan Davis (441k followers)
11. (11) Krishnan Guru-Murthy (422k followers)
12. (8) Alastair Campbell (363k followers)
13. (13) Kay Burley (349k followers)
14. (16) Paul Mason (347k followers)
15. (12) Andrew Rawnsley (343k followers)
16. (15) Danny Finkelstein (332k followers)
17. (14) Mehdi Hasan (290k followers)
18. (18) Guido Fawkes (219k followers)
19. (17) Alan Rusbridger (189k followers)
20. (24) Faisal Islam (171k followers)
21. (19) George Monbiot (167k followers)
22. (21) Laurie Penny (153k followers)
23. (23) Fraser Nelson (145k followers)
24. (20) Polly Toynbee (139k followers)
25. (26) Michael Crick (136k followers)
26. (22) Mark Steel (133k followers)
27. (25) Cathy Newman (131k followers)
28. (40) James O'Brien (122k followers)
29. (35) Maajid Nawaz (121k followers)
30. (30) Mary Beard (116k followers)
31. (27) Kevin Maguire (114k followers)
32. (29) Niall Ferguson (112k followers)
33. (31) Tim Montgomerie (111k followers)
34. (34) Paul Waugh (104k followers)
35. (28) Louise Mensch (102k followers)
36. (36) Adam Boulton (102k followers)
37. (32) David Aaronovitch (98.9k followers)
38. (33) Aditya Chakrabortty (91.2k followers)
39. (43) Isabel Hardman (90.2k followers)
40. (NE) Hadley Freeman (89.5k followers)
41. (NE) Britain Elects (85.8k followers)
42. (37) Jack Monroe (84.9 followers)
43. (41) Iain Dale (83.6k followers)
44. (39) Will Black (82.7k followers)
45. (48) John Rentoul (82.3k followers)
46. (42) Hugo Rifkind (78.9k followers)
47. (NE) Jonathan Freedland (77.7k followers)
48. (38) Fleet Street Fox (76.5k followers)
49. (49) Dan Hodges (75.4k followers)
50. (56) Sophy Ridge (74.8k followers)
51. (53) Emily Maitlis (70k followers)
52. (44) Peter Tatchell (69.7k followers)
53. (NE) Jamie Ross (66.4k followers)
54. (50) Sunny Hundal (65.5k followers)
55. (63) Nick Ferrari (64.4k followers)
56. (47) Will Self (64.2k followers)
57. (57) Patrick Wintour (63.5k followers)
58. (66) 38 Degrees (63.4k followers)
59. (83) Douglas Murray (63.3k followers)
60. (46) Left Foot Forward (62.8k followers)
61. (77) Nick Cohen (62.4k followers)
62. (48) Zoe Williams (62.1k followers)
63. (59) Harry Cole (61.2k followers)
64. (64) Eoin Clarke (61k followers)
65. (70) Janan Ganesh (60.3k followers)
66. (92) Julia Hartley-Brewer (60.2k followers)
67. (55) Andrew Sparrow (59.2k followers)
68. (58) Helen Lewis (58.8k followers)
69. (51) Artist Taxi Driver (58.3k followers)
70. (52) Suzanne Moore (58.1k followers)
71. (93) Isabel Oakeshott (57.5k followers)
72. (NE) Jim Waterson (57.3k followers)
73. (61) Gideon Rachman (56.9k followers)
74. (60) Toby Young (56.5k followers)
75. (54) New Economics Foundation (55.6k followers)
76. (96) Tim Shipman (55.2k followers)
77. (67) British Politics and Policy at LSE (54.7k followers)
78. (62) LabourList (54.1k followers)
79. (75) Conservative Home (52.9k followers)
80. (72) James Landale (52.8k followers)
81. (76) John Pienaar (52.6k followers)
82. (71) Gaby Hinsliff (52k followers)
83. (69) Janet Street-Porter (51.5k followers)
84. (80) Allegra Stratton (51.4k followers)
85. (73) Gary Younge (50.9k followers)
86. (81) Open Democracy (49.9k followers)
87. (68) Michael White (49.3k followers)
88. (NE) George Eaton (49.2k followers)
89. (NE) Tom Newton Dunn (48.9k followers)
90. (65) Wings Over Scotland (48.8k followers)
91. (100) Sam Coates (48.7k followers)
92. (74) Bella Caledonia (47.3k followers)
93. (89) Bonnie Greer (46.3k followers)
94. (95) Danny Blanchflower (46.3k followers)
95. (82) Political Scrapbook (44.9k followers)
96. (90) Iain Martin (44.7k followers)
97. (79) Stop the War Coalition (43.9k followers)
98. (91) The Spectator Coffee House (43.1k followers)
99. (NE) Chris Mason (42.6k followers)
100. (85) C4 News FactCheck (42.4k followers)

I love me some paradoxes. This year is a story of movement, but also of stasis. Russell Brand is back talking about politics again, hence his reclaiming of the top spot with his 12 million plus followers. And so everyone's had to shuffle around to accommodate him. There are some big climbers, few spectacular falls, and a handful of new entries. But almost without exception, folks who've dropped off the list are professional journos replaced by ... more professional journos.

As per previous years, is the politics Twitter establishment a party for white blokes? Alas, the proportion of women have fallen; this year there are 23 vs 63 gents and 14 group blogs/outlets. In 2015, 10 of our list were from black and minority ethnicity backgrounds. Has representation improved any this year? The answer is ... no change. And for open LGBT folk, I make six (again, statsisville).

To repeat, what a list of tweeters demonstrates in this case is the impressions the field of politics comment makes on our favourite social media platform. The number of followers work as a rough metric for standing and bankability within the dense web of the media/Westminster nexus. Therefore, it is not and cannot a good thing that politics commentary is dominated by a narrow range of people with broadly similar backgrounds and broadly similar life experiences. It means discussion and debate across our media is framed in particular ways, its preoccupations conditioned by shared values and stakes of an increasingly narrowly circumscribed field. News stories outside the experience of most are seldom accorded the importance they deserve. It also follows the kinds of biases exercising the Faragists and Corbynists are not systematic conspiracy, but a consequence of a narrow media that's incredibly difficult for outsiders to break into.

Right, that's my two penneth done. If there's anyone I've missed (it's inevitable, innit?) let me know in the comments below and it will be duly updated.

Update 24/12
Yes, I missed a few off. They are respectively Hadley Freeman at 40, Britain Elects at 41, Jonathan Freedland who crashes in at number 46, and Buzzfeed's Jim Waterson who finds himself at a comfortable 71. That means the Fabians, Nicky Tyrone, The F Word and the FT Westminster blog have fallen off the bottom of the list.


jim mclean said...

You are blocked from following @bellacaledonia and viewing @bellacaledonia's Tweets.
You are blocked from following @WingsScotland and viewing @WingsScotland's Tweets.
You are blocked from following @mrmarksteel and viewing @mrmarksteel's Tweets.

only blocked by 3%, must try harder,

jim mclean said...

Strong Nationalist contingent, as an alternative, @BrianSpanner1 @ianssmart @LondonIWW are good for the smaller strikes/campaigns and @Brut_Football love the pics on Brutalist football visual commentary