Whether or not you’re in the ‘boring, boring, election’ camp, and whatever colour of the rainbow you choose today at the ballot box, there is no doubt that the next 48 hours – and coming weeks – has the potential to be one of the most defining in the political history of this United Kingdom.
With the battle for legitimacy already underway, I fully expect it to erupt into war as blows are traded between politicians, commentators, hacks, and flacks, as soon as the polls close at 10pm tonight.
With many more of the UK’s population on twitter in 2015 (est. 9.5 million) compared to 2010 (est. 3.4 million), consuming news and insight about this election has already been a unique experience, and opinions will be shared most vociferously via social channels – primarily via Twitter.
Twitter continues to be an extraordinarily rich channel to listen to conversations and opinions on political and social issues. It’s also incredibly influential too, with recent research showing that 47% of users aged 18-34 have reconsidered their views on a specific issue as a result of using it.
You will, of course, be tuned into Dimbleby, Humphreys, Paxman or Snow on your TV, but 30 million active mobile social users in the UK will also be consuming news, views and opinions across their tablets, smartphones and watches.
So to get you through the highs and lows of the long nights to come I’ve curated a series of Twitter lists for you to subscribe to so you can make sure you never miss a result, point of view, or occasional brain fade.
#1 – Major political players
It is not unfair to say that competition in contemporary politics is now between personalities rather than between political parties. That is, political parties today reflect their leaders, their personalities and their beliefs rather than the leaders reflecting their parties, their beliefs and their traditions. For right or for wrong, what they say, how they say it, and who they say it to, is of even more importance than it was 20 years ago. Just see the rise of Nicola Sturgeon for evidence.
This list combines the current cabinet (remember – Ministers will stay in place if no government is immediately formed), the shadow cabinet, and key figures from all the other UK political parties. Whether or not these tweets are actually coming from the horses mouths, I’ll leave that for you to decide.
#2 – Marginal candidates
Marginal seats are where elections are won or lost. This time, with the polls tied so closely, they matter more than ever. Effective local organisation and strong doorstep campaigning has been an incredibly important factor in this election and will play a big part in the end result.
Curated from the Guardian’s fantastic interactive overview of each UK parliamentary constituency, here you will find 170 candidates with the champagne on ice across more than 80 of this general election’s key political battlegrounds.
#3 – Hacks, bloggers and commentators
The media and commentators continue to have a significant influence – and this election has seen the print media very much set the agenda for broadcasters and bloggers alike. The economy and taxation initially dominated but as the battle for legitimacy got underway, negative press treatment of Miliband and Labour has intensified as the campaign entered its final stages.
The impact of the news agenda will be played out at the ballot box, but it is a fact that the televised leadership events in this campaign have attracted less than half the levels of commentary found for the leadership debates in 2010.
What’s written, spoken and shared from 10pm will however continue to set the tone for the days to come – and with reporters closer to the action than ever before, with the world at their fingertips, this list contains over 100 must follows that will be fashioning our fish and chip paper for the foreseeable weeks and months.
#4 – Party HQ and flacks
On the other side of the fence are the eyes, ears and mouths of party political HQs, led by their army of communications experts and so called “s**n d*****s”. How these campaigns have been run by each party has been unique, and it is without question that the SNP have reigned supreme.
Digital has also been key, and whilst as the Conservatives plough more money than most into social targeting – as Labour invest much time and effort into a massive grassroots campaign, Ed Miliband’s party remains the most-followed party across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+, by more than 20%.
The messaging from each official source will reach a huge amount of people and watching how each party approaches any negotiations, in full public glare, will give lessons learned whatever your comms background.
#5 – Pollsters and data geeks
Who is going to win the UK general election? Speak to a pollster at any point over the past 12 months and they’ll all have showed you the data to let you know, with every day creating a new headline – but in reality, nothing has changed. The pollsters and data geeks will be crunching the numbers throughout the night – and will also be measuring opinion on any deals or coalitions from dawn on 8 May.
#6 – Political parodies
From Larry the Downing Street Cat and to the magnificent General Boles – there will be cause to stop frantic finger nail biting and have a giggle over the next few days. Chin chin old bean!
#7 – ‘Celebs’ and top tweeters
With a combined following of over a couple of billion you can’t deny the influence of this list of UK ‘celebs’ and top tweeters. Whether or not they actually share their opinion on the election, the result and the aftermath is yet to be seen – but Charlotte Church did get all crazy chick on David Cameron last night, and what this group has is an unparalleled reach across UK and beyond.
- Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5687590513
- Getty: http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article9922690.ece/alternates/w620/jim_murphy.jpg
- Geograph: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1844330
- Wikimedia: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Peter_Capaldi_June_2014.jpg
- Wikimedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StateLibQld_1_388165_Beach_tug_of_war_at_Southport,_1917.jpg
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_(cat)#/media/File:Larry_the_Cat_-_May_2011.jpg
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Church#/media/File:Charlotte_Church_Focus_Wales_2013.jpg