Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Which politicians suffer the most abuse on Twitter?

Researchers found the type of angry messages directed at Scottish MPs tended to differ from their English counterparts.

A Conservative has topped a list of Westminster politicians who faced the most hostility on Twitter.

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston used machine learning software to analyse all the tweets sent to MPs between December 22 and May 9.

A total of 681,084 single @message tweets in English were examined and ranked as either positive, neutral, disagree or hostile.

Tim Loughton topped the list. (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Conservative Tim Loughton came top of the list for receiving hostile Twitter messages, which spiked after he attended the Baftas and criticised director Ken Loach’s speech as “pathetic drivel”.

He was Tory MP for East Worthing and Shoreham at the time, and is the party’s candidate in the General Election on Thursday.

Labour’s Chi Onwurah was second, dealing with a sharp rise after she tweeted about Prince Philip’s financial security upon retirement, compared to women with reduced pensions. She is fighting to retain the Newcastle Central seat this week.

Chi Onwurah also featured heavily. (David Parry/PA)

Scotland’s only Labour MP in the last parliament, Ian Murray, came third followed by Tory George Freeman, who faced a rise in hostile messages after saying that people with physical disabilities should be prioritised over people with mental health difficulties.

Mr Murray was one of four Scots who featured in the top 10, with Scottish Secretary David Mundell at number five, the SNP’s Mhairi Black in sixth place and her party colleague Callum McCaig at number eight.

Researchers found the type of angry messages directed at Scottish MPs tended to differ from their English counterparts, broadly focusing on political issues rather than responding to a specific comment.

Labour MP Ian Murray faced a different kind of abuse. (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Murray and Mr Mundell were found to face recurring bouts of extreme hostility, peaking around the triggering of Article 50 in March.

The study found many hostile tweets aimed at Mr Mundell referenced terms including Brexit, EU, independence, union, Scotland, Scottish, unfair, democracy, and referendum.

Those aimed at Mr Murray often referenced Scotland, Corbyn, Brexit, disaster, destroying and independence.

Researcher Amy Binns said: “The hostility aimed at the Scottish MPs appears to be of a different type to hostile tweets experienced by MPs in the rest of the UK. It is a more regular feature of their Twitter streams.

“It comes in recurring waves, though it is linked to events such as the triggering of Article 50. There seems to be more invective aimed at the Conservative Mr Mundell than the Labour MP Mr Murray.”


From Belfast Telegraph