Twitter v newspapers: the most talked about

Personalities, parties and topics.

When we repeat this exercise for the fourth and final full week of the campaign, there's little doubt that one name will be competing with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg as the most written about and most tweeted.

Gillian Duffy -- tagged on Twitter, if a little unfairly, as #bigotedwoman -- is to the UK general election 2010 what Joe the Plumber was to the US presidential election of 2008.

But, here -- from the pre-Bigotgate era -- are the personalities, parties and topics that have dominated:



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Clegg's game-changer (© all media outlets) came in the middle of week two. As you can see, the number of mentions on Twitter and in newspapers grew accordingly: by week three, he was the subject of more coverage than either the PM or the leader of the opposition.

It's interesting also to note how the newspapers can't quite shake off their Blair obsession, whereas the Twitter chatter tends to reflect more quickly -- and more prominently -- those who pop up in the election, such as Ellie Gellard, the über-Tweeter who opened for Brown at the event where he launched the Labour manifesto.


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As above, the Lib Dem mentions rose when Nick Clegg's stock rose. It is also interesting that there is little between Labour and Tory mentions in the national newspapers during each week. On Twitter, however, Labour is mentioned consistently more often than the Conservative Party. But, as the disclaimer explains below, mentions shouldn't be confused with popularity.


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The newspapers have been in no doubt where the election will be decided. With the exception of talk about a possible (probable) hung parliament come 6 May, the economy has been the dominant topic of conversation -- "tax", "National Insurance", "cuts" and the "economy" itself all feature prominently.

"National Insurance" in week one was largely mentioned in connection to the Conservatives promise to scrap the government's intended NI rise. It all seems a very long time ago now.

In the Twittersphere, meanwhile, the discussion has been more varied -- an obsession with the leaders' debates and an issue close to the hearts of the digerati, the rushed-through Digital Economy Bill, are among the topics dominating debate.

Note: These numbers are based on how frequently parties and people were mentioned on Twitter and in the main national newspapers between 6 and 26 April. The Twitter figures are adjusted to make sure that only mentions relating to the general election are considered. Mentions can be positive, negative or neutral, and should not be confused with popularity. The NS Digital Dashboard is powered by Resolver Systems.

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Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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Harriet Harman warns that the Brexit debate has been dominated by men

The former deputy leader hit out at the marginalisation of women's voices in the EU referendum campaign.

The EU referendum campaign has been dominated by men, Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman warns today. The veteran MP, who was acting Labour leader between May and September last year, said that the absence of female voices in the debate has meant that arguments about the ramifications of Brexit for British women have not been heard.

Harman has written to Sharon White, the Chief of Executive of Ofcom, expressing her “serious concern that the referendum campaign has to date been dominated by men.” She says: “Half the population of this country are women and our membership of the EU is important to women’s lives. Yet men are – as usual – pushing women out.”

Research by Labour has revealed that since the start of this year, just 10 women politicians have appeared on the BBC’s Today programme to discuss the referendum, compared to 48 men. On BBC Breakfast over the same time period, there have been 12 male politicians interviewed on the subject compared to only 2 women. On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, 18 men and 6 women have talked about the referendum.

In her letter, Harman says that the dearth of women “fails to reflect the breadth of voices involved with the campaign and as a consequence, a narrow range [of] issues ends up being discussed, leaving many women feeling shut out of the national debate.”

Harman calls on Ofcom “to do what it can amongst broadcasters to help ensure women are properly represented on broadcast media and that serious issues affecting female voters are given adequate media coverage.” 

She says: "women are being excluded and the debate narrowed.  The broadcasters have to keep a balance between those who want remain and those who want to leave. They should have a balance between men and women." 

A report published by Loughborough University yesterday found that women have been “significantly marginalised” in reporting of the referendum, with just 16 per cent of TV appearances on the subject being by women. Additionally, none of the ten individuals who have received the most press coverage on the topic is a woman.

Harman's intervention comes amidst increasing concerns that many if not all of the new “metro mayors” elected from next year will be men. Despite Greater Manchester having an equal number of male and female Labour MPs, the current candidates for the Labour nomination for the new Manchester mayoralty are all men. Luciana Berger, the Shadow Minister for mental health, is reportedly considering running to be Labour’s candidate for mayor of the Liverpool city region, but will face strong competition from incumbent mayor Joe Anderson and fellow MP Steve Rotheram.

Last week, Harriet Harman tweeted her hope that some of the new mayors would be women.  

Henry Zeffman writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2015.