Labour landslide in the celebrity con-twit-uency

With the final live debate days away, Labour is leading the race when it comes to celebrity endorsements on Twitter. With a combined reach of 1,760,608 users, Labour has harnessed by far the most celebrity endorsement influence on Twitter. With only 27m voting in 2005, this influence is likely to give the party a significant boost when the country goes to the polls on 6 May.

The Liberal Democrats came a distant second to Labour with a celebrity reach of 74,121 Twitter-users, followed by the Green Party on 18,366, and the Conservatives on 11,138. Political campaigner and stand-up comedian Mark Thomas, who is using his Twitter feed to support Bristol independent Danny Kushlick, for whom he has written/compiled a manifesto, has 12,244 followers.

In assessing the political leanings of 150 celebri-twits, Halpern Cowan have found that the majority of Britain’s top celebrities are deliberately avoiding getting involved in political debates online, but that a core of very vocal celebrities are wielding considerable influence. Celebrity endorsements for Labour on Twitter come courtesy of Eddie Izzard (who has just recorded a television spot for the party), actor and comedian Alan Davies, and Duncan Bannatyne. Prominent Lib Dem supporters on Twitter include Boy George and actor and presenter Robert Llewellyn. Comedian Marcus Brigstocke is publicly backing the Green Party in his constituency of Brighton.

Position Tweeting Celebrity Affiliation Followers
1. Eddie Izzard Labour 1,529,986
2. Alan Davies Labour 128,687
3. Duncan Bannatyne Labour 69,674
4. Robert Llewellyn Lib Dem 39,358
5. Boy George Lib Dem 34,080
6. Anthony Cotton Labour 32,261
7. Marcus Brigstocke Green 18,366
8. Mark Thomas Independent (Danny Kushlick) 12,244
9. Toby Young Conservative 11,138
10. Floella Benjamin Lib Dem 699

We’ve seen politicians take to Twitter like ducks to water for a ‘social media election’ but they can still only dream of getting as much of a popularity surge as celebrities do from the platform; people follow the politicians whose views they already agree with, so candidates using Twitter are just preaching to the choir. Celebrities, on the other hand are trusted ‘faces’ who can influence voters across the political spectrum and across the country, get the apathetic to vote, swing the undecideds, and give politicians a much-needed boost to their online reputation.

Of course, celebs also have a lot to lose by announcing their politics on Twitter. If you’re famous and want to stay that way you need to appeal to as much of the public as possible, but taking sides on the kind of divisive issues at stake in the election is likely to turn a lot of people off, which is probably why most keep mum or stick to making jokes about Britain’s politics. Nevertheless, as it stands if the celebrity con-twit-uency went to the polls today, it would be a Labour landslide.

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