How the UK media responded to the election manifestos

Posted on Categories News

With only hours until the polls open, we looked at how the UK media responded to the three major political party manifestos since their launch. Using Signal to search the volume of articles for each party alongside ten key policy pillars of; Healthcare, Brexit, Taxation, Infrastructure, Defence, Pensions, Education, Housing, Energy and Transport, we reveal which topics were talked about most, and when.

It doesn’t matter what you say; there’s the same space to fill

We analysed the volume of coverage in the UK Media for the three major parties around their manifesto launches, in conjunction with ten key policy pillars. No matter what the objective, Labour achieved an almost identical number of unique stories with 4,388 pieces of coverage published on leak day (11th-12th May) and 4,400 on the official announcement day (16th-17th May). On the day the Conservatives announced their manifesto their total was 4,472 (18th-19th May). The Lib Dems on the other hand, were significantly less with only 1,392 (17th-18th May) unique stories.

Labour – Taxation has its moment

At the time of the Labour manifesto leak, Brexit and Health dominated their UK media coverage with over half of the party’s coverage discussing these issues (52%). However, if we look at what happened around the 16th May and the party’s official announcement, Taxation jumped to the top of the list pushing Brexit down to second place. This cycle didn’t last long, as a week later Brexit remained the hot topic, cementing its dominance.

Policy Pillar 11th and 12th May (leak) 16th and 17th May (actual announcement) 25th and 26th May
Brexit 1,273 1,364 1,264
Health 1,105 1,329 688
Taxation 844 1,456 525
Education 622 757 427
Energy 694 656 175

Conservatives – Perplexing Pensions

When analysing how the UK press reacted to the Conservative manifesto over the 48 hours following the announcement on the 18th May, here is how the key policy pillars ranked in terms of article volume:

  1. Brexit (1,535)
  2. Healthcare (1,215)
  3. Taxation (1,027)
  4. Education (772)
  5. Pensions (672)
  6. Housing (460)
  7. Energy (427)
  8. Infrastructure (373)
  9. Transport (274)
  10. Defence (258)

The ranking for the following week was almost unchanged, but there was less volume, as expected.

  1. Brexit (734)
  2. Healthcare (618)
  3. Taxation (485)
  4. Education (394)
  5. Defence (371)
  6. Housing (275)
  7. Infrastructure (246)
  8. Transport (195)
  9. Pensions (181)
  10. Energy (164)

However, over this period, the issue of Pensions dropped to ninth place, generating only 181 mentions. There was a dramatic decline in UK coverage that featured Pensions as a topic, following the policy U-turn on the 22nd:

Liberal Democrats

Unsurprisingly, the Lib Dems generated a significantly lower volume of coverage across the ten topics on the day of their manifesto launch with 674 unique stories. Their manifesto announcement fell in the hammock slot in between the two major parties’ manifesto launches. Tracking the volume of stories over the 48hr period of the 17th-18th May indicated how the most talked about policies ranked in the UK media:

  1. Brexit (676)
  2. Healthcare (535)
  3. Tax (496)
  4. Education (352)
  5. Housing (253)

The Big Issues

This analysis across the three traditional main parties media coverage of core manifesto pillars demonstrate that the two biggest issues for every party this election campaign are Brexit and Healthcare, posing two questions:

  1. Who is going to be the best negotiator for Brexit?
  2. Who is best placed to look after the NHS?

No policy can get away from either issue with almost half of all articles in the UK media 48 hours after the manifesto launches covered Healthcare and/or Brexit, with Brexit the more frequent topic.

Party Number of articles that mention Brexit Number of articles that mention Healthcare Total of Brexit and Healthcare / Total articles % of article share that mentions Healthcare and/or Brexit
Labour 1,364 1,329 2,693/4,400 61%
Conservatives 1,535 1,215 2,750/4,472 62%
Lib Dems 676 535 1,211/1,392 87%

Over a longer period, Labour has had more coverage on Healthcare throughout this election cycle than any other party, showing their core focus versus the conservatives who have put a greater emphasis on Brexit. Since the start of May, Labour was mentioned in 14,242 unique stories in relation to Healthcare, Conservatives were mentioned 10% less (12,796) and Lib Dems 69% less (4,356). However, the gap is narrower for articles relating to Brexit with 17,847 mentions of the Conservatives and Brexit, 17,718 (1% less) for Labour, and 6,035 for Lib Dem (66% less). However, it is clear Brexit and Healthcare was high, but consistent for Labour and Conservatives, at 61% and 62% respectively, the Lib Dems clearly focused on the two topics, which constituted 87% of their coverage.

Signal Monitor allows you to look into wider topic areas, not just your brand and or spokespeople with our unlimited search at no extra cost. You can search in real time, allowing you to pick up articles as they go live. This analysis is just one example of how you can investigate a story and draw trends. Trial Signal Monitor for yourself.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *