Lib Dems Hold the Balance of Power on Twitter

Research by Virgin Media Business has revealed that the Liberal Democrats have made the greatest strides of all UK political parties in using Twitter to match their new-found political power with online influence.

Virgin Media Business's research discovered that Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is the UK's most powerful political Tweeter. He was rated the world's 4,060th most influential Tweeter out of more than 7 million users by fewer than 2,000 places behind the world's most powerful man, President Barack Obama. The UK's next most influential political Tweeter is shadow foreign secretary and Labour leadership candidate David Miliband, who is 5,761st in the global rankings. No Conservative politician featured in the Global top 10,000, in spite of the party's general election strategy of encouraging candidates to use Twitter as a way of engaging directly with voters.

Virgin Media Business provides government and public sector bodies with high speed communications through the UK's only national fibre optic network. It conducted its study into the use of Twitter across Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont to determine how effectively politicians are harnessing internet-based communications tools to change the way they talk to voters and the media.

Among Westminster politicians Virgin Media Business found that 40 per cent of sitting MPs used Twitter. 57 per cent of Liberal Democrat MPs (30 out of 57), including all five of the party's members who sit in the coalition cabinet, are active Tweeters. Their coalition partners, the Conservatives, were less advanced, with only 33 per cent of MPs (102 of 306) signed up to the service and a mere three Tweeting cabinet ministers. On the opposition benches, Labour just beat the Parliamentary average with 42 per cent uptake among MPs, but numbered an impressive 15 out of 29 Tweeters in the shadow cabinet.

Outside of London, the Welsh Assembly emerged as the UK's second-most Twitter friendly elected chamber, with a take-up rate of 35 per cent among its members. Here Labour and the Conservatives trailed significantly behind the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru. In Northern Ireland, general uptake among members of the Stormont Assembly was 27 per cent, with Tweeters' party affiliations reflecting the Province's unique political makeup.

Scotland was where Virgin Media Business uncovered the greatest mismatch between devolved and Westminster politics when it came to social networking. It found that only 18 per cent of Holyrood's MSPs were Twitter users, compared to 45 per cent uptake among Westminster MPs with Scottish constituencies. The Scottish National Party also emerged as the least engaged of all ruling political parties when it came to Twitter, with only four Tweeters among its 47 MSPs.

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