Ahead of the general election on May 7, many of Bournemouth’s prospective parliamentary candidates are trying to connect with voters directly through the use of social media.
Aspiring MPs have set up Facebook or Twitter accounts, with Conor Burns, the incumbent for Bournemouth West, being the most assiduous (and most followed) user. But candidates for most other parties running in the town’s two constituencies are also heavily involved on social networks, whether to express their political positions, engage with residents, or simply describe their daily errands. The only exception seems to be the Liberal Democrats. Despite the local branch having Facebook and Twitter pages, the actual PPCs for Bournemouth (Mike Plummer and Jon Nicholas) only have a limited online presence.
Using word clouds it is possible to clearly observe the recurring arguments of Bournemouth’s parliamentary candidates:
Conor Burns – Conservative MP for Bournemouth West
Both universities fall in his constituency, as well as the troubled St. Aldhelm’s Academy. He’s also a staunch opponent of the Navitus Bay project and, apparently, an avid snooker fan.
Elizabeth McManus – Green Party candidate, Bournemouth West
It’s the first time the Green Party fields a candidate in every constituency in Dorset, and their social media output reflects the party’s concerns on fracking and high-level tax fraud.
David Stokes – Labour candidate, Bournemouth West
Old school canvassing and grassroots involvement are the dominant themes. Stokes’s campaign is heavily coordinated with the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen, a Labour marginal seat.
Tobias Ellwood – Conservative MP for Bournemouth East
The keywords reflect Ellwood’s role as a Foreign Office Minister with the portfolio for North America, the Middle East and North Africa.
Martin Houlden – UKIP candidate, Bournemouth West
Among the local UKIP candidates, Martin Houlden has the highest degree of social network participation. His campaign is mostly on the offensive,and his tweets and posts frequently target the EU, Labour and the Tories.
Alasdair Keddie – Green Party candidate, Bournemouth East
nb: these projections were compiled with Wordle from Facebook and Twitter posts, starting from November 1st 2014. Most common words were excluded, and the word clouds were curated to ensure readability and comprehension.
Conor Burns MP says
What an interesting and fun piece of work. Well done!