Top Lib Dem media tarts: March – May 2008

by Stephen Tall on June 10, 2008

Which Lib Dem MPs received the most media mentions between 1st March and 31st May, 2008? To find out I trawled Lexis-Nexis’s online database of all UK national newspapers (and a huge number of regional ones), feeding in the names of each of our MPs in turn, and seeing how many returns were generated.

To qualify, the MP must have been mentioned either as a Liberal Democrat or Lib Dem. This will disadvantage those MPs who are working their regional media hard, but whose names do not appear under the party’s banners. Sorry, but them’s the rules.

Anyway, here’s the list in descending order of media mentions (with their Dec ‘07-Feb ‘08 positions in brackets):

1. (1) Nick Clegg – 1830
2. (2) Vince Cable – 639
3. (4) Ming Campbell – 411
4. (3) Chris Huhne – 323
5. (5) Norman Lamb – 256
6. (8) Lembit Öpik – 252
7. (7) Norman Baker – 237
8. (11) Nick Harvey – 220
9. (6) Charles Kennedy – 192
10. (15) Evan Harris – 133
11. (22) Don Foster – 132
12. (9) David Laws – 128
13. (17) Julia Goldsworthy – 128
14. (14) David Heath – 121
15. (20) Simon Hughes – 121
16. (21) John Hemming – 113
17. (13) Steve Webb – 108
18. (18) Alistair Carmichael – 107
19. (44) Tim Farron – 94
20. (30) Richard Younger-Ross – 91
21. (24) Sarah Teather – 88
22. (12) Ed Davey – 77
23. (42) Matthew Taylor – 76
24. (58) David Howarth – 73
25. (16) Greg Mulholland – 71
26. (35) Mark Oaten – 65
27. (10) Danny Alexander – 56
28. (47) Andrew George – 54
29. (55) John Pugh – 54
30. (26) Adrian Sanders – 53
31. (33) Alan Beith – 53
32. (56) Martin Horwood – 53
33. (19) Lorely Burt – 50
34. (50) Sandra Gidley – 50
35. (27) Lynne Featherstone – 49
36. (62) Alan Reid – 49
37. (39) Jenny Willott – 48
38. (37) Michael Moore – 46
39. (49) Phil Willis – 40
40. (40) Susan Kramer – 36
41. (45) Mark Williams – 36
42. (28) Jeremy Browne – 35
43. (31) Colin Breed – 35
44. (38) Stephen Williams – 35
45. (59) Paul Burstow – 32
46. (41) Bob Russell – 31
47. (25) Jo Swinson – 30
48. (51) Robert Smith – 30
49. (36) Mike Hancock – 29
50. (23) Roger Williams – 27
51. (34) Dan Rogerson – 27
52. (29) Malcolm Bruce – 26
53. (54) Annette Brooke – 21
54. (57) Paul Holmes – 19
55. (32) Tom Brake – 16
56. (61) Paul Keetch – 16
57. (53) Paul Rowen – 15
58. (43) Willie Rennie – 14
59. (52) John Thurso – 13
60. (48) John Leech – 11
61. (60) Mark Hunter – 9
62. (63) Andrew Stunell – 9
63. (46) John Barrett – 7

The list naturally comes with a heavy health warning – as I note whenever I produce these rankings, media mentions can be both positive and negative.

Nonetheless, as a party which often struggles to have its voice heard outside election time – when the broadcast media is forced by law actually to do its job, and report impartially – it’s clearly crucial that all our MPs do their utmost to ensure they and the party are as prominent as possible.

It’s worth noting that the total number of mentions of Lib Dem MPs decreased between March and May, compared with the previous three months – from 8,976 to 7,300. Even allowing for the fact that the December figures were skewed by the leadership election, there’s a clear warning to the party to ensure it doesn’t get squeezed by an old-fashioned media fixated on Tory-Labour battlegrounds to the exclusion of the Lib Dems.

It’s worth highlighting a handful of top performers.

In the shadow cabinet, Nick Harvey (defence) is back in the top 10: he might not be the most showbiz of spokesmen, but he’s respected by – and invariably quoted by – defence journalists. Norman Baker (transport) who was frequently quoted when on the backbenches is now gaining considerable coverage for the party with a key policy brief. And Don Foster (culture, media and sport) has leapt up the rankings, commenting on BBC website costs, the Olympics and TV quiz fixes inter alia.

Outside the shadow cabinet, Evan Harris and John Hemming in particular continue to show the impact that dogged, brave campaigning can have in terms of influencing public debate.

* Editor’s note: This is the fifth such list I’ve compiled: the first was back in March 2007 on my own blog; the second (Sept 2007), third (Dec 2007) and fourth (April 2008) were published on Liberal Democrat Voice.