Digital democracy: the MSPs who show their party allegiance on Twitter

Public Entrance Scottish Parliament

Following a BBC report looking at which parties' MPs do not show their party allegiance on Twitter, I sought to answer the same question for Scotland’s MSPs. Here are the results.

The BBC report found that while around 9 in 10 Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs showed their party allegiances on Twitter, that was the case for just 43% of Tory MPs who use the social media site. But what about the Members of the Scottish Parliament? How many of its members show their allegiance on Twitter?

In the Scottish Parliament, there are 129 MSP, 73 of which are elected via FPTP while a further 56 are elected via the top-up list system to increase proportionality at the parliament. Here are the results for each of the five parties represented in the chamber.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats

The number of Liberal Democrats in the Scottish Parliament can be counted on one hand: Willie Rennie, Alex Cole-Hamilton, Mike Rumbles, Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott. The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie displays his allegiance as do Liam McArthur and Alex Cole-Hamilton. Tavish Scott does not while Mike Rumbles does not appear to have a Twitter account. Excluding, Rumbles, the Liberal Democrats have a 75% display rate.

The Scottish Greens

Out of the six Scottish Green MSPs, all have Twitter and all say that they represent the Greens. This amounts to a 100% display rate.

The Scottish Labour

Out of 23 MSPs, excluding Ken Macintosh who serves as the chamber's presiding officer, all have Twitter and all but one of them display their party allegiance either via a note in their bibliography or via a photo that contains “Labour” in some form or another.

The only exception is Elaine Smith MSP. Her bibliography states she is the MSP for Central Scotland. Her picture is of her while her cover photo contains the name of the group, “Campaign for Socialism” and a CFS logo. The Campaign for Socialism is a “left-wing, democratic socialist group comprised of Scottish Labour Party members and supporters”, so while there is a clear link to Smith’s party, there is no direct mention of it

Scottish Labour’s Twitter party allegiance rate is therefore 96%.

The Scottish Conservatives

Currently in second place at Holyrood, the Scottish Conservatives have 31 MSPs. For Conservative MPs at Westminster, just 43% show which party they belong to while the figure is significantly higher at Holyrood. Of the 31 Scottish Conservative MSPs in the chamber, all but four have Twitter. Of the 27 remaining, a further four do not display they party they represent.

Therefore, a total of 85% of Tory MSPs show which party they are a part of. The only exceptions are Murdo Fraser, Brian Whittle, Oliver Mundell and Dean Lockart.

The Scottish National Party (SNP)

In May 2016, the SNP lost its majority at Holyrood, and now has just 62 seats out of 129. But how many of those 62 MSPs have Twitter and how many display which party they belong to?

Just five SNP MSPs do not have Twitter, leaving 57. Three of these did not have direct SNP reference (Gillian Martin, Jenny Gilruth and John Swinney), but have obvious SNP signs like the “Stronger for Scotland" slogan or pictures with Nicola Sturgeon so have been included with those who display their party. Therefore, including them, out of the 57 SNP MSPs with Twitter, 51 showed which party they belong to, resulting in a rate of 89%. This is higher than the Scottish Conservatives' rate, but lower than Scottish Labours’.

Summary:

  • Scottish Greens: 100%
  • Labour: 96%
  • SNP: 89%
  • Conservatives: 85%
  • Liberal Democrats: 75%