pollitician : Toolmakers and Haribo - how Sky's election event unfolded online

pollitician : Toolmakers and Haribo - how Sky's election event unfolded online
pollitician : Toolmakers and Haribo - how Sky's election event unfolded online

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:46 PM

newsonline - While Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer spent yesterday evening trying to convince voters in Grimsby to back their parties during Sky's TV event, another audience was analysing the pair from afar - on social media.

From confessions of the prime minister's love for "sugary" treats to others reminding Labour how many times Sir Keir Starmer has said his dad is a toolmaker, there was a lot going on.

This is how the audience online received the debate.

Using social media listening tool, TalkWalker, Sky News has analysed how well-received both leaders were during the event on TikTok, YouTube and X.

The data from TalkWalker shows a large majority of social media users talking about the two leaders were not positive in sentiment - but either negative or neutral.

Our search looked at posts using 'Keir Starmer' and 'Rishi Sunak' from accounts which set their location to the United Kingdom and were posted during the hours of Sky's TV special programme. Sir Keir only narrowly beat the prime minister on posts with positive sentiment - scoring 7.2% versus Rishi Sunak on 4.5%.

Read more:
Starmer performed best overall in Sky News leaders' event - poll
Starmer reveals 'worry' for family if he enters No 10

The platform uses AI to measure the sentiment of chatter online whether positive or negative - but doesn't include Meta products like Facebook or Instagram.

This compares to a snap YouGov poll following last night's event which shows that almost two-thirds - 64% - of those questioned said the Labour leader came out on top, compared to 36% who thought the prime minister did better.

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Sir Keir's father was a toolmaker - did you know?

Image: Pic: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

First in line for grilling was the Labour leader. Pushed on issues like the economy and abandoned pledges, one of the biggest reactions from the audience was his response to taxes and how much he earns.

Sir Keir said he accepts that he earns a lot of money in his current role (over £126k), proceeding to repeat a line many have heard from him before. The line didn't just make the audience in Grimsby laugh but was one of the most viral moments from the event online.

He said: "When I grew up my dad was a toolmaker, he worked in a factory, it's true, and my mum was a nurse... and actually we couldn't make ends meet, which isn't actually a laughing matter."

One version of the clip posted on X gained over 700,000 views in the first two hours and is now almost at two million impressions.

Others joked online that it's a phrase the Labour leader has used many times before - even the gambling company PaddyPower seemed to jump on the trend posting a video of the popular gif of football fan Lee Judges saying "he's done it again...."

Sunak's guilty pleasure... are Haribos

Could you tell the audience something that might make them like you a bit more again?

Mr Sunak said people might think he has a "healthy lifestyle", but in fact he admitted to having an "appalling diet" and eats an "enormous amount of sugar" - with the prime minister naming Haribos and Twix among his favourites.

Memes of the prime minister and his love for sugar soon emerged on X. Other parody accounts tweeted "vote for me because I eat Haribos" - featuring a picture of the prime minister last night.

What were the other parties doing?

While last night's programme only featured the Labour and Conservative leaders, some of the other parties did chime in.

The Liberal Democrats took to X to jab at the prime minister - although it wasn't focused on policy and more on his appearance.

Meanwhile, the SNP shared a post from candidate Alison Thewliss which claimed Sir Keir's answers in last night's event "confirmed" that Labour are "not serious about child poverty".

As last night's event was taking place, Sky News analysis of the TikTok, Facebook and X official accounts of the other parties - Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Reform UK, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, shows that most of the parties seemed rather quiet on their social media accounts with few or no posts about last night's event.

Meanwhile the official accounts for the Green Party, Reform UK and Plaid Cymru show the parties instead posted about their own campaigns and did not react online to Sir Keir and Mr Sunak's performances in the event.

This article is part of the Online Election project - a Sky News initiative to cover how the campaign is playing out online, led by Tom Cheshire who is our Online Campaign correspondent throughout.


The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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