Artillery Row

Cabinet Wars – Episode 2

Comparing the Cabinet on Twitter might suggest who is on manoeuvres – and who’s dropped the social media ball

It’s partly a bit of fun, but measuring the Twitter rankings of Cabinet Ministers vs their opposite number in the shadow cabinet can perhaps give us some clues as to why certain departments have stronger messaging than others, and also perhaps who is looking for a higher position than the one they currently have. I previously looked at how the rise of Rishi Sunak was mirrored in his social media output, with slick, personalised graphics pumping out the Treasury message. Now it’s the next five on my list. The Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy, Health, Justice and Defence departments versus their shadow Labour Ministers.

Cabinet Office: Gove beats his shadows
Michael Gove, one of the longest serving Cabinet Ministers has two Labour shadows. As the Minister for the Cabinet Office, he easily trumps his shadow Minister and MP for Dulwich, Helen Hayes with nine times as many followers. Gove, who initially set up a Twitter account to run for leader after the referendum, is ranked 22nd amongst all MPs on Twitter, whereas Hayes is ranked 199th. The shadow minister’s Twitter bio says she is “Tweeting in personal capacity” – it would be interesting to see how powerful that disclaimer is if she ever tweeted out something offensive, a la Rebecca Long Bailey

Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Gove’s other job) is ranked 42nd. Although she has many more followers than Hayes, it’s still not enough to beat the reach of old-hand Gove.

Healthy lead for the Tories
You’d expect the Health Minister to be well followed in a crisis and Matt Hancock does not disappoint. But his Labour shadow Jonathan Ashworth needs to up his social media game if he’s hoping to cut through to make the most of Labour’s “Tory incompetence” line. Hancock has three times the number of followers as his Labour sparring partner and is ranked 12th amongst all MPs on Twitter compared to Ashworth’s paltry rank of 46. That means MPs like Andrea Leadsom (#33) and Iain Blackford (#40) have more followers than the Shadow Health Minister.

Justice denied
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland has been completely trounced by his shadow David Lammy in the Twitter rankings. Lammy has devoted a huge amount of his time to cultivating a following over the last 12 years and is 6th in the rankings of all MPs. The only MPs with more followers than Lammy are current or former Labour and Conservative party leaders. Whilst Lammy was berating Buckland and the Prime Minister on Twitter to his enormous follower base over the government’s admission that they intended to break international law, Buckland was retweeting clips of himself on Sophy Ridge discussing whether women can give birth with partners present.

Another win for Labour. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recently caused uproar when he accused Labour of fighting “illegal wars” (which the Tories supported at the time) and it seems he spends as much attention to detail on his social media output. The Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey has 66% more followers than Wallace and tweets regularly about his support for Royal Navy ships built in Britain and plenty more.Wallace seems to spend most of his time online re-tweeting the MOD and other official military accounts.

Episode 1 featuring the PM, the Home Secretary, the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary is here.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover