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Who to follow on Twitter to break the echo chamber

A montage of faces from figures accross the left- right spectrum

We’ve suggested 10 political commentators from the right and 10 from the left to ensure you’re always fully across the narrative

At this point, it’s hard not to be aware of the “echo chamber” phenomenon. 

In the lead up to the December election, everyone on the left felt a surge of euphoria over the impending change in government and definite bright future. Twitter feeds were flooded with all the fights that Labour were winning, and all the good that Jeremy Corbyn would bring once in power. 

But the right knew that many leftists were deluded, that they had a leader who instilled no hope in the majority of voters and that the only way forward for Britain was with a One Nation Tory government.

Most of us still prefer to remain safely cloistered within a bubble of commenters whose views harmonise with our own feelings. But it’s arguably more important now than ever to diversify our intake, to know what the narrative is on the other side of the line, and to understand our opposition. 

Below we have compiled 10 influential Twitter presences from both ends of the political spectrum we suggest you follow, to ensure that from now on you’ll have a better idea of what’s happening on the other side of the aisle. We’ve steered clear of the loud-mouthed antagonists and picked intelligent thinkers who make their arguments in cogent ways. So even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, their tweets shouldn’t send you into a phone-smashing rage. Hopefully.

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Right-leaning people

 

Iain Dale – @IainDale

Iain Dale is a longstanding and award-winning presenter of a weekday evening radio show on LBC, where he takes on callers from across the spectrum to discuss the week’s most topical news stories. Every year he and his colleagues vote on and compile the ‘Top 100 Most Influential Conservatives’ (he used to do one for the left, but this seems to have fallen by the wayside). His Twitter feed is fairly balanced, willing to promote and challenge people working on both sides.

 

 

Sir Iain Duncan Smith – @MPIainDS

The former leader of the Conservative Party might not be as high-profile as he once was, but the Right Honourable is certainly an active Twitter user. He is a columnist at The Daily Telegraph, and often retweets articles from them, or Daily Mail pieces that support his views on issues like tighter immigration and Britain’s hard line negotiations with the EU.

 

 

Conservative Home – @ConHome

This website labels itself ‘The Home of Conservatism’ and claims to provide “comprehensive, independent coverage of the UK Conservative Party”. It may not be the flashiest looking site, but it covers the Conservatives in granular detail with a dozen or more news posts every day – and a “LeftWatch” section, so you can see what they’re making of what’s happening on the other side.

 

 

Anna Mikhailova – @AVMikhailova

As deputy political editor at The Telegraph, it is Anna Mikhailova’s job to be closely covering what’s happening in the Conservative government, so perhaps aligning her with the right might be pushing it. However, the tone and angle of her coverage shows tacit support for what Boris and his bunch are up to – and she does it with salience and clarity.

 

 

Nick Ferrari – @NickFerrariLBC

Anyone who has watched Nick Ferrari hosting Sky News’ political debate show The Pledge will have no doubts about his right-alignment, given his conservative views on immigration and tax. However, he would probably like to think of himself less biased, as he likes to vote in the leadership elections for every party and on his LBC breakfast show he is willing to listen to – and challenge – people from all corners.

 

 

Julia Hartley-Brewer – @JuliaHB1 

On the one hand, Julia Hartley-Brewer wore a Union Jack dress on the night of 31 January to celebrate Britain’s exit from the EU. On the other hand, her she/her pronoun preference is listed on her Twitter profile, which is something more often associated with “liberal lefties”. The talkRADIO presenter is certainly an outspoken character, and frequently uses her platform to poke fun at people (usually the left), which makes her Twitter feed quite lively.

 

 

Peter Hitchens – @ClarkeMicah 

Often seen as a Conservative commentator, as he is a columnist for The Mail on Sunday (and has his own blog on the site), Peter Hitchens doesn’t really seem to agree with any of it. In 2009 he published the book Broken Politics: How Britain Lost its Way, in which he argued that the ‘left’ and ‘right’ don’t really stand for anything anymore. His Twitter feed seems to be a continuation of that, challenging views continually throughout the day.

 

 

Liz Truss – @trussliz 

Having been made Secretary of State for International Trade in summer 2019, Liz Truss’ public profile is on the rise. The MP for South West Yorkshire is capitalising on her growing popularity  by ensuring her Twitter timeline stays active and positive, promoting anything that’s projecting a bright future for Britain’s post-Brexit trade, including her own articles for The Telegraph.

 

 

James Forsyth – @JGForsyth 

In his role as political editor of The Spectator, James Forsyth is always striving to ensure a balanced output, so he might object to being aligned to the right, but his weekend column in The Sun gives a little more indication as to which way he leans. His commentary is one of the highlights of The Spectator’s Coffee House Shots daily podcast and his insightful analysis of all angles has seen him nominated as Political Commentator of the Year at this year’s National Press Awards.

 

 

Michelle Dewberry@MichelleDewbs 

The fact that Michelle Dewberry stood as a Brexit Party candidate in the 2019 election might mean that many would see her as too right, but the truth is that she is someone who knows what she wants and is willing to speak out and fight for it. She came into the spotlight as winner of the second series of The Apprentice in 2006, and the fact that she has managed to remain a sharp and renowned political commentator all these years later is testament to her intelligence and insight.

 

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Left-leaning people

 

Gary Younge – @garyyounge 

While he has just retired as columnist for The Guardian to pursue a role as professor of sociology, Gary Younge remains an essential follow for views from the left. His compassionate columns retain their vitality even long after the events that provoked them, and his Twitter timeline is still a place in which he speaks out in support of his beliefs  – workers’ and immigrants’ rights being chief among them.

 

 

Nicola Sturgeon – @NicolaSturgeon 

As leader of the SNP and first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is always out and about making press appearances with communities and organisations whom she cares about. Her Twitter profile lovingly follows all these movements, and it’s nice to see a national leader who seems to be out there for genuine reasons, not just for cynical vote baiting. She also retweets a lot of articles on topics she believes are pressing: housing, immigration and what the Conservative government has in store for Scotland.

 

 

Owen Jones – @OwenJones84

Guardian columnist Owen Jones has risen rapidly to become one of the most well-respected political commentators in the land, thanks to his clear and incisive arguments for equality and criticisms of current government structures  – although this has also earned him plenty of haters too. Nonetheless, Jones tweets uninhibited, straddling both UK and US politics in his wide-ranging feed.

 

 

Marina Hyde – @MarinaHyde

At this point it would be hard not to know who Marina Hyde is, given how frequently her guffaw-inducing columns are shared around the internet. For those on who felt (or still feel) like the years of Brexit have been utter hell, Hyde’s uncanny ability to cut through the noise and find humour in everything – while still making strong political arguments – has been a salve. She’s also a pop culture commentator par excellence, so expect to see plenty of that on her timeline too.

 

Sir Keir Starmer – @Keir_Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer seems dead set to be the new leader of the opposition, so following his feed seems like a no-brainer for anyone wanting to keep track of the narrative that Labour is pushing. His Twitter is currently in self-promotion overdrive, as he thanks everyone who has pledged their support for him in the upcoming leadership election, but nestled in there is are his writing for The Independent and some retweets from The Guardian, which will surely become more frequent once he’s confirmed as the new Labour leader.

 

Frances O’Grady@FrancesOGrady

As General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady’s campaigns for workers’ rights and solidarity with the unions naturally align her with the left. As the face of the TUC, she is a dogged fighter, and her feed is filled with messages of hope and pleas for unity among the British population, while still ensuring that the most pressing matters are highlighted in no uncertain terms.

 

Jon Lansman@jonlansman

While Jeremy Corbyn’s stock may now be falling, Momentum remains fully committed to bringing about a more socialist future. Jon Lansman is the founder and chair of the organisation, and the self-described “Lifelong Labour Leftie” does not seem too perturbed about having to live in a majority Conservative government for the next few years. At the moment his feed is throwing all support behind Rebecca Long-Bailey for next Labour leader, but still has plenty of time to be a thorn in the side of Conservative thinkers.   

 

Chuka Umunna@ChukaUmunna

Chuka Umunna and the rest of the Change UK splinter group that departed Labour last year certainly received their fair share of flak for the decision, but as the group’s spokesperson he has remained bravely in the firing line. Although his main drive, to keep Britain in the EU, has now failed, Umunna remains an active commenter on the nation’s internal and international relationships, writing regularly for The Independent.  

 

Afua Hirsch@afuahirsch

Afua Hirsch is not afraid to challenge what Britons hold dear. Born in Norway to British and Ghanaian parents and a Jewish grandfather, then brought up in London, she has observed and been victim of countless inequalities shown towards immigrants and people of colour, and this has been the through line of a lot of her writing and campaigning. This has often brought her to points of high contention, like asking in The Guardian whether Nelson’s Column should be removed and hosting a show on Channel 4 where she argued that Winston Churchill was far from the heroic figure that he is held up to be. It’s brought her no shortage of haters online – but that just fuels her further.

 

Femi Oluwole@Femi_Sorry

The founder of the People’s Vote campaign may have been expected to lose hope and fade from sight after it never materialised and Article 50 was officially enacted. However, Femi Oluwole has only upped his presence, now appearing regularly on Sky’s The Pledge and continuing to be an antagonising commenter on the actions of the current government via his Twitter. 

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