JUSTICE Secretary Kenny MacAskill today emerged as the king of Twitter among Lothian parliamentarians.
The SNP Edinburgh Eastern MSP has 8242 followers on the social networking site – more than any other MP or MSP in the area.
Labour’s Alistair Darling, who is leading the anti-independence Better Together campaign, had the second highest number of followers – 7512 – but in return he followed only one tweeter – the official Better Together campaign.
Fellow Labour MP Ian Murray had the third most followers – 6456 – possibly thanks to his role co-ordinating the fans’ rescue bid for Hearts as much as his political work.
When it comes to who is using Twitter most, there was a clear winner among Lothian parliamentarians – Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale, who has tweeted 8484 messages. Green MSP Alison Johnstone was the second most prolific tweeter, having sent 3956 messages.
Ms Dugdale said Twitter was crucial to the way she operated. “The first thing I do in the morning is check my Twitter. In a 24-hour news cycle, people expect their politicians to be engaging 24 hours as well.”
She acknowledged her own party needed to catch up with the SNP. She said: “The SNP is better at social media and training up their activists and politicians to understand its power.
“Politicians on Twitter can be quite dull – ‘I went to this coffee morning’ and so on – but I try to avoid that and promote issues I care about, like payday loans, as well as providing a little bit of colour and personality so people don’t think they are talking to a robot.”
At the other end of the league table, SNP MSP Colin Keir has the fewest followers – 71 – while Livingston Labour MP Graeme Morrice sent the fewest tweets – just 17, nine of them urging people to sign a petition against parking charges at Livingston Centre.
Some MSPs have resisted the temptation to get drawn into Twitter – so far. Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie said: “Sadly, I’m a twitterphobe – but I am seeking counselling. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the demise of the fax machine.
“The role Twitter played in the Arab Spring is an excellent example of the potential of social media.”
Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame uses Facebook, on the grounds “you can say more” and Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan said he intends to set up a Twitter account.
Some of their top tweets..
@KennyMacAskill: Johann Lamont thinks the way to save the Royal Mail is too plead with Lib Dem MPs. Ken Loach’s Spirit of 45 long since abandoned by Labour.
@TogetherDarling: Nicola Sturgeon on Radio Scotland said she was sure pension pledge was affordable...but couldn’t say how much it cost. Credible? #indyref
@kdugdalemsp: Now THAT is a bacon sandwich - thank you Brighton #lab13
@IanMurrayMP: Gr8 that announcement 2 scrap Bedroom Tax has been made & policy is fully funded. Right 2 scrap Shares 4 Rights & tackle bogus self employt.
@AlisonJohnstone: Please sign up to demand stronger regulations for online pet sales in Great Britain!
@Edinwestern: Sent part of afternoon at Craigroyston HS learning about their efforts to take part in F1 schools challenge in the U.S. Inspirational stuff.